The summer of 2016 is truly the summer of sport; the Rio 2016 Olympics, UEFA European Football Championships, a rugby test series in Australia, a home cricket series to Pakistan, the Silverstone Grand Prix, Wimbledon and the Ryder Cup to finish it all off at the end of September! Will Team GB’s athletes be able to match their magnificent medal haul in Rio? Will England’s footballers end the 50 years of hurt? And will Andy Murray claim his second Wimbledon title?
From Rio to the Ryder Cup
The 2016 Rio Olympics opens on the 5th August 2016 at the Maracana Stadium, which only two years ago played host to the football World Cup Final. Over 10,000 athletes will compete in this summer’s Olympics, the first of which to be held in South America. This year’s Olympics sees golf and sevens rugby union added to the list of sports, plus the relatively new sport of kitesurfing. Great Britain’s best medal hopes lie with household names Jessica Ennis-Hill in the heptathlon and Tom Daley in diving; both produced medals in London and the public hope they can deliver again this year.
Euro 2016 is already in full flow, with England facing Iceland on Monday evening in the round of 16. England’s results so far in the tournament have left a lot to be desired, with one Daniel Sturridge inspired win sandwiched between bore draws against Slovakia and Russia. The players and fans alike will be hoping Monday’s performance sees England at their best, with a calm Cahill at the back, rampaging Rooney in midfield and classy Kane upfront. It’s been fifty years since England last won a major tournament, with that notable World Cup win in 1966 being the only date England fans can look back on with fondness. This young England team will hope they can fulfil their side of the bargain against the unforgiving hopes of an expectant nation.
Elsewhere in Euro 2016, the home nations have all qualified for the first knockout-round. Gareth Bale’s Wales topped Group B, whilst Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland qualified from Groups C and E respectively. Against all odds, these teams have done remarkably well to get this far in the tournament and will no doubt be hoping they can push their luck one notch further and qualify for the quarter finals.
England’s rugby players secured their first ever test series win in Australia last Saturday and Eddie Jones’ men have the opportunity to complete a whitewash this coming Saturday in Sydney. A crestfallen Australian side failed to work their way around Dylan Hartley’s stubborn England in the second test in Melbourne, with some resolute defending from England helping to maintain a lead, plus a late try from Saracen Owen Farrell. This series win comes off the back of a superb Six Nations earlier in 2016 where England were grand slam winners. Added to this is Saracen’s European Cup victory in May 2016 which suggests English rugby is in quite a good place right now and there is certainly cause to celebrate!
Cricket at Lords
England’s cricketers take on Pakistan in the first test match at Lord’s on Thursday 14th July. Currently fourth in the ICC test rankings, England will be hoping to push on after their convincing series win against Sri Lanka earlier in 2016. Captain Cook brought up his 10,000th test run in that series and will look to build a partnership with big-hitting Alex Hales at the top of the order in this forthcoming series, all in long-term preparation for the Ashes in 2017. England’s women team meanwhile have just recorded their highest one-day total to win the series against Pakistan.
Strawberries and cream at Wimbledon
Murray Mount, SW14, currently lies in a dormant state patiently awaiting an eruption somewhere between the 27th June and 10th July, ideally on the 10th July and ideally caused by a flying Scotsman named Andy Murray. The green, sharp lawns of Wimbledon will be frequented by the world’s top tennis players come 1.00pm on Monday 27th June. Andy Murray will be hoping that turning back to his old coach Ivan Lendl will help to see him rise to defeat the imperious and in-form Novak Djokovic.
Johanna Konta has been seeded 17th in the women’s competition at Wimbledon and will hope to build on her success at the Australian Open earlier this year, in which she reached the semi-final. Konta is the first British female to be seeded at Wimbledon since Jo Durie in 1984 and will look to be the first British female to win the competition since Virginia Wade in 1977. Laura Robson has been handed a wildcard for Wimbledon and world ranked number 50, Heather Watson, is hoping to go one better than last year when she was within two points of defeating the legendary Serena Williams at the All England Club.
The British Grand Prix is set to be held at Silverstone on the 10th July 2016. Lewis Hamilton currently sits behind teammate Nico Rosberg, with only two wins so far this season. Although with Silverstone being Hamilton’s home race, he will hope to get one over his rival Rosberg and place some much needed pressure on the calm and collected German.
The final major sporting event of the summer is the Ryder Cup at the end of September. Darren Clarke’s Europe will take on Davis Love III’s USA at Hazeltine golf course in Minnesota, USA. With current Masters champion Danny Willett, magic Rory McIlroy and Europe’s ‘postman’ Ian Poulter, Europe stand as good a chance as any at defeating a strong USA team, likely to feature both US Open champion Dustin Johnson former Masters Champion, Jordan Spieth.
What are you going to watch this summer?
But why would anyone watch any of these sporting events? I mean, we don’t just watch them; we love them, we let them dictate our moods, our schedules, our social plans and we pay fortunes to go and watch them live, but why?
Sport can do one thing like no other, and that is bring people together. The electric atmosphere conjured by Super Saturday at the London 2012 Olympics was transferred to living rooms and screens across the country. Even the grumpiest man and his dog couldn’t resist a smile as Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford and Jessica Ennis displayed their brilliance at the Olympic Park in Stratford. This happiness and joy that sport can bring to individuals and to groups of people is what makes it so very special.
So what do you hope will be your special sporting moment of the summer? The Euros, the Olympics, the Ryder Cup? Well, there’s certainly enough on offer for you to choose from.