Jake Arrieta, baseball, United States
Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in a 16-0 win on 22 April 2016, his second no-hitter in two seasons. Arrieta helped himself at the plate by hitting two singles, drawing a walk and scoring a run. He finished the season with an 18-8 record, a 3.10 ERA and a 2-1 record in the postseason, helping the Cubs win the 2016 World Series.
Andrew Beckwith, baseball, United States
Coastal Carolina University pitcher Andrew Beckwith, college baseball’s national leader in wins at 15-1, went 5 2/3 innings in the final game after pitching two complete games and picked up his third victory of the NCAA College World Series. He was named the Most Outstanding Player as his team defeated the University of Arizona in June for the school’s first national championship.
Usain Bolt, sprinting, Jamaica
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt retained the title of world’s fastest man by winning the 100 meter dash in 9.81 seconds in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August. He is the only man to win three consecutive 100 meter dash Olympic titles. Bolt also won his third consecutive Olympic gold in the 200 meters with a time of 19.79 and helped the Jamaican team win gold in the 4×100 relay. He has won nine total Olympic medals.
Stephen Curry, basketball, United States
Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry was named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA for the second consecutive season, also recording the first unanimous MVP ballot in league history. In May, Curry broke the NBA record for three-point field goals in a single playoff series with 32, helping the Warriors reach the NBA Finals.
O.J. Howard, football, United States
O.J. Howard was instrumental in the University of Alabama’s victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship in January 2016. Named the game’s Offensive Most Valuable Player, Howard compiled 208 yards and two touchdowns on just five catches in a 45-40 win over Clemson. It was the most receiving yards ever by any Alabama player in a bowl game.
LeBron James, basketball, United States
LeBron James was unanimously named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals after the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 in June. Over the series, James averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 8.9 assists and became only the third player to record a triple-double in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. James scored 41 points in both Game 5 and Game 6, leading the Cavaliers to history as the first-ever team to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Championship. James now has two NBA Championships with the Miami Heat and one with Cleveland.
Jon Lester, baseball, United States
Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester had a 3-1 record with a 1.93 ERA and 26 strikeouts in October postseason play, which includes the playoffs and World Series. Lester was named the co-MVP of the National League Championship Series after going 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 21 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lester finished the season with a 19-5 record and a 2.44 ERA.
Rory McIlroy, golf, Ireland
At the final event of the 2016 PGA Tour season, Ireland’s Rory McIlroy won the Tour Championship and captured the FedEx Cup as the tour’s top golfer for the year. He also won the Deutsche Bank Championship and the Irish Open in 2016.
Andy Murray, tennis, Scotland
Scotland’s Andy Murray defeated Novak Djokovic to win the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour Finals in London on 20 November 2016. Murray beat Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 to win the season-ending event and retain his status as the world’s top ranked male tennis player.
Michael Phelps, swimming, United States
United States swimmer Michael Phelps won a total of six medals – five gold and one silver – in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Phelps won gold in the 200 meter butterfly, 200 meter individual medley, 4×100 meter freestyle relay, 4×100 medley relay and 4×200 freestyle relay, as well as silver in the 100 meter butterfly. Phelps now has an Olympic record of 28 total medals, 23 of which are gold.
Peter Prevc, ski jump, Slovenia
Slovenia’s Peter Prevc claimed victory in the first individual competition at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Ski Jumping World Cup Finals in Planica, Slovenia, in March. He won the ski flying event on his home hill with efforts of 223 meters (731.6 feet) and 232.5 meters (761.2 feet), giving him a winning tally of 426.5 points.
Cristiano Ronaldo, soccer, Portugal
Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo won the Champions League title with his team Real Madrid in May, the Euro 2016 title with Portugal in the summer, the Club World Cup and was named the winner of the 2016 Ballon d’Or for best men’s soccer player. Ronaldo has scored 48 goals in 52 total games for his club team and country in 2016.
Carson Wentz, football, United States
Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz, a National Football League rookie, led the Eagles to a 3-0 start in September. Wentz completed 66 of 102 passes for 769 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions and led the Eagles to wins against Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh. Through his first 15 games as a rookie, Wentz threw for 3,537 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Ben Zobrist, baseball, United States
Chicago Cubs utility player Ben Zobrist was named the World Series MVP after hitting .357 with 10 hits, two doubles, and a triple in seven games against the Cleveland Indians. Zobrist hit the go-ahead RBI double in the 10th inning of Game 7 on 2 November 2016 to seal an 8-7 win and clinch the Cubs’ first World Series championship since 1908.
Simone Biles, gymnastics, United States
American gymnast Simone Biles won four gold medals and one bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Biles won gold with Team USA in the women’s team all-around and won individual gold in the women’s individual all-around, women’s vault, and the women’s floor exercise. Her bronze medal came in the women’s beam. She also won the gold medal in the all-around competition at the 2016 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships in April and won the all-around title at the U.S. Olympic trials in gymnastics with an overall two-day total of 123.25 in July.
Morgan Foley, softball, United States
Morgan Foley, senior pitcher for the University of Indianapolis softball team, pitched 21 strikeouts in a win over Hillsdale College on Feb. 27 to set a NCAA Division II record for most strikeouts in a seven-inning game. It was her second record performance, as in May 2014 she struck out 30 batters in a 13-inning overtime win over Rockhurst University, setting a record for all NCAA divisions for most strike outs in a single game. She signed a professional contract with the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch league.
Kendra Harrison, hurdles, United States
Kendra Harrison of the United States won the 100-meter hurdles at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, with a time of 12.24 seconds, breaking the American record and just 0.03 seconds off the world record set in 1988. She also set a world record in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 12.20 seconds in July at the London Muller Anniversary Games.
Katinka Hosszu, swimming, Hungary
Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu won three gold medals and one silver medal in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In earning gold, she also broke the world record in the 400-meter individual medley and broke the Olympic record in the 200-meter individual medley. She also earned gold in 100-meter backstroke and silver in 200-meter backstroke.
Angelique Kerber, tennis, Germany
German tennis player Angelique Kerber defeated Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 4-6 and 6-4 to win the U.S. Open women’s title in September. The win was Kerber’s second Grand Slam singles title of the year and solidified her as the world’s top-ranked women’s tennis player. Kerber also won a silver medal in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Katie Ledecky, swimming, United States
American swimmer Katie Ledecky won five medals – four gold and one silver – at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August. She became just the second woman to sweep the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle races in the Olympics. In the 800 meters, Ledecky clocked a world record time of 8:04.79 and defeated her competition by several body lengths. She also helped Team USA win gold in the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay and silver in the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay. In November, Ledecky won a 1,650-yard freestyle National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) race for Stanford University with a time of 15:03:92, breaking the U.S. collegiate record by 20 seconds and her own American record by 10 seconds.
Simone Manuel, swimming, United States
United States swimmer Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to win gold in Olympic swimming history. Manuel won two gold medals and two silver medals in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August. She won gold in the women’s 100 meter freestyle with an Olympic record time of 52.70. Manuel also won gold in the women’s 4×100 medley relay and captured silver medals in the women’s 50 meter freestyle and women’s 4×100 freestyle relay.
Sandi Morris, pole vault, United States
American pole vaulter Sandi Morris set a new United States women’s outdoor pole vault record at 5.00 meters in the final Diamond League meet of the 2016 season in Brussels, Belgium. Morris is just the second woman in the world to clear 5.00 meters outdoors. The record capped a year in which Morris won an Olympic silver medal and a world indoor silver medal.
Candace Parker, basketball, United States
Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker was named the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) finals MVP as she helped the Sparks capture the WNBA title in Game 5 on in October. She scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rounds in the title game against the Minnesota Lynx.
Dominique Scott, running, South Africa
Dominique Scott, a University of Arkansas senior distance runner from South Africa, helped lead the lady Razorbacks to win the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., from 8-11 June 2016. Scott won the 5,000 meters with a time of 15 minutes 57.07 seconds and the 10,000 meters with a time of 32 minutes 35.69 seconds.
Breanna Stewart, basketball, United States
Breanna Stewart scored a game-high 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to lead the University of Connecticut Huskies to a fourth consecutive National Collegiate Athlete Association (NCAA) Women’s Tournament Championship with a 82-51 victory over Syracuse University. She finished her college career with numerous NCAA women’s tournament accomplishments, including third all-time in points (446), third in rebounds (207), and second in blocks (71).
Elaine Thompson, sprinting, Jamaica
Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson won the title of world’s fastest woman by winning gold in the women’s Rio 2016 Olympic 100 meter dash with a time of 10.71. Thompson also won gold in the women’s 200 meter dash with a season’s best of 21.78. Thompson earned her third medal, a silver, in the women’s 4×100 meter relay. The following month, Thompson won the women’s 100 meter race at the IAAF Diamond League meet in Brussels with her winning time being 10.72 seconds.
Lindsey Vonn, skiing, United States
American skier Lindsey Vonn won the gold medal and set a new women’s World Cup record for number of downhill race wins by winning her 37th in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, on Jan. 23, 2016. The next day, she won the Super-G race, setting a new record for most career World Cup wins in women’s skiing, with her 63 career victories topping the record set by Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell in the 1970s. The 2010 Olympic gold medalist is the winningest female skier of all time.
Serena Williams, tennis, United States
American tennis star Serena Williams won her 22nd Grand Slam title by beating Angelique Kerber in straight sets in the Wimbledon women’s singles final on 9 July 2016, her seventh Wimbledon singles title.
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