THE 2015 sports calendar has thrown up highlights aplenty.
More than 120 million television viewers tuned into Super Bowl XLIX back in February, where Tom Brady steered the New England Patriots to an epic comeback win over the Seattle Seahawks.
It’s been a decent year for the men’s national teams of Australia, who won the Asian Cup football in January, the Cricket World Cup in March and the Hockey World League final in November.
The Wallabies almost added the Rugby World Cup to that list, but they came up short against the All Blacks of New Zealand in the final.
Serena Williams came agonisingly close to a quartet of her own after winning the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon singles titles, but her shock loss to Roberta Vinci at the US Open saw her miss out on that elusive calendar-year Grand Slam.
There was a renewed energy and competitiveness about the often one-sided Presidents Cup, with the United States beating a plucky International team by a single point in a fierce contest at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea.
Yet for all those standout moments and the many more we don’t have time to mention, 2016 is shaping up to be an even bigger year in world sport.
Here, in chronological order, are the top 10 sporting events to look forward to over the next 12 months.
Super Bowl 50
When: February 7
Where: Santa Clara, California
Super Bowl XIXL is a hard act follow, but the 50th anniversary of American football’s flagship game might just top it. The New England Patriots are joint $4.33 favourites with the Carolina Panthers at Sportsbet.com, while the Arizona Cardinals ($6.50), Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers (both $9) are also well liked to take out what is being dubbed the ‘Golden Super Bowl’.
ICC World Twenty20
When: March 11 – April 3
With the rapid growth of domestic Twenty20 leagues all over the globe, worldwide interest in short-form cricket has risen rapidly since the first ICC World T20 tournament back in 2007. Thus, the 2016 edition should be the most competitive yet. Online bookmaker CrownBet.com has India ($3.60) as short-priced favourites to win on their own patch, ahead of Australia ($6), South Africa ($7) and the title holders, Sri Lanka ($9).
ICC Women’s World T20
When: March 15 – April 3
It’s an exciting time for women’s cricket. The rise of the WBBL in Australia and the growing profiles of star players such as Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry means there will be plenty of interest in the 2016 Women’s World Twenty20, which will run parallel to the men’s event in India. Australia are the obvious favourites after winning back-to-back-to-back at the last three World Twenty20 tournaments.
When: April 7-10
Where: Augusta, Georgia
The Open Championship may be older, and the US Open may be tougher, but the Masters Tournament at Augusta National is the crown jewel of golf’s major titles. Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy (both $7.50) are the joint favourites in the early 2016 Masters betting markets at www.Sportsbet.com, with Jason Day ($9) and past winner Bubba Watson ($15) next in line.
Copa America Centenario
When: June 3-16
Where: United States
The Americas will join forces next June to commemorate the 100th anniversary of CONMEBOL – the world’s oldest continental football federation. An expanded field of 16 teams will feature the top-ranked nations from both the South American confederation and its northern equivalent, CONCACAF. Can the USA, Mexico, et al hang with the likes of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay?
UEFA Euro 2016
When: June 10 – July 10
The 15th edition of the UEFA European Championship will see Spain look to make it three titles on the trot. But have la Roja passed their prime? Crownbet.com has them at $6 in the Euro 2016 outright betting, behind host side France ($4) and three-time winners Germany ($4.25). Belgium, England (both $12), Italy and Portugal (both $19) round out the contenders in what will be the first Euros to feature 24 teams.
When: June 27 – July 10
Where: London, UK
Can anybody knock Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams off their respective perches at Wimbledon 2016? WilliamHill.com has Andy Murray ($4.50) and Roger Federer ($7) as the only real competition for Djokovic, who is paying $2.25 to take out the men’s singles once more. Sportsbet has the younger Williams sister pegged at $2.88 to win the women’s draw, ahead of Petra Kvitova ($6.50) and Maria Sharapova ($9).
Tour de France
When: July 2-24
Even though the reputation of professional cycling has take an almighty bashing in recent years, the Tour de France remains a permanent highlight on the sporting calendar. Defending champion Chris Froome is Sportsbet’s $2.10 favourite to take out the General Classification again in 2016, while Colombia’s Nairo Quintana ($3.50) and two-time winner Alberto Contador ($5) are also well fancied.
When: August 5-21
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Only two years after hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil will again play host to the biggest international sporting spectacle of the year. The 31st Summer Olympiad will feature 306 events across 28 sports and 41 disciplines, with more than 10,500 athletes expected to participate. Rugby sevens will make its Olyimpic debut at Rio 2016, while golf events will be contested for the first time since 1904.
When: September 30 – October 2
Where: Chaska, Minnesota
The battle for golfing supremacy between Europe and the United States will resume at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minnesota, where the visitors will hope to claim Ryder Cup glory for the fourth consecutive time. Sportsbet.com has Darren Clarke’s Europeans as $1.79 favourites to lift the cup once more, while the Americans are paying $2 to win outright on home soil.
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