The beautiful face of 2016 sport

Karl Frey looks over the most heart-warming and poignant sporting moments of the last year

Asides from phenomenal success and excitement, sport has brought us some of the most touching and human moments of this year. Its capacity to unite is arguably more important than ever and something to remember as we enter 2017. Cherwell reveals its five beautiful faces of sport in 2016, who prove kindness and compassion need never be forgotten during competition.

1) Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino

Both Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino arrived at the Olympic games with the aim of winning that gold medal. Instead, however, the 5,000 metre runners were presented with the Fair Play award, the only award of its type in the 2016 Olympics. They made headlines around the world and were heralded for capturing the “Olympic spirit” when competing in the qualifying heat for the 5,000 metres.

With 2,000 metres left to go, New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin tripped and fell, thereby taking USA athlete Abbey D’Agostino down with her. The American stood up and helped her peer back on her feet. Soon later, D’Agostino felt down again, showing signs of a foot injury. This time Hamblin gave her a hand and the two began run the race together before falling into each other’s arms after they crossed the finish line.

2) Kenton Doust

Kenton Doust, a 15-year old Canadian and fervent Vancouver Whitecaps supporter, was found to have three brain tumours near his pituitary gland and began chemotherapy in October 2015. After a six-month battle with the illness he was declared cancer-free and was given the ultimate present for a fan of FIFA. EA offered Doust the opportunity to feature in FIFA 17 game. He now has his own special FIFA Ultimate Team player card, and with an overall rating of 95 he is one to watch out for.

Whilst Kenton’s was an inpatient at Vancouver BC Children’s hospital, Whitecaps defender Russel Teibert sent him boots and a signed jersey. He also visited Kenton on the day he received the all-clear notice. The boy emphasised how important the Whitecaps were throughout his journey with cancer and we can be sure that he will forever be grateful and proud to support such a beautiful club. 

3) Bradley Lowery

In 2013, two-year old Bradley Lowery was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Early in 2016, his illness was found to be terminal. Bradley, who is a Sunderland fan, was the guest of honour and scored a penalty past Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic before leading out the ‘Black Cats’ in the arms of Jermain Defoe.

Bradley proudly wore a Sunderland shirt donated by rivals Newcastle United and scored his penalty to “There is only one Bradley Lowery” chants from both sides of fans. The charitable event united football foes, who came together to forget about football rivalries and assist young Bradley in his battle against cancer.

4) Brownlee brothers

In the 2016 World Triathlon Series (WTS) final race in Cozumel, Mexico, Jonathan Brownlee began in second place in the standings.

His brother Alistair, the 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist, was out of contention to win the WTS title, having missed earlier races.

‘Jonny’ looked to be set for a second World Triathlon Series title, but with the finish line only 700 metres away, the British athlete started to lose control of his body and continued racing on the verge of collapse. Alistair, who had been in third place, put his brothers arm around him and carried him along the final few hundred metres. He pushed Jonny across the finish line to earn his younger brother 2nd place (ahead of him), behind South African Henri Schoeman. The medical staff at the WTS described Jonathan to be “as close to death as you can be”.

The silver medal meant that Jonathan Brownlee had just missed out on the title to Spanish triathlete Mario Mola. The following day, Jonny tweeted a picture in hospital to his fans, emphasising gratitude towards his brother. “Not how I wanted to end my season, but I gave it everything. Thanks Ali, your loyalty is incredible.”

The Brownlee brothers made history together and I’m sure that the world of sport will remember this moment of mutual affection and companionship much more vividly than if Jonathan had won and lifted the World Triathlon Series Title.

5) Muhammed Ali’s death

On the 4th of June 2016, boxing legend Muhammed Ali died at the age of 74, having had suffered from respiratory illness and Parkinson’s Disease. His death was an opportunity to remember an undeniable beautiful face of sport.

Nicknamed “The Greatest”, the American completed 61 fights throughout his career with an astonishing 56 wins, including 37 knockouts. Ali was crowned World Heavyweight Champion 3 times and won 1 Light-heavyweight Olympic gold medal.

Asked how he would like to be remembered, Muhammed once said: “As a man who never sold out his people. But if that’s too much, then just a good boxer…I won’t even mind if you don’t mention how pretty I was.”

Ali was widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 1900s. Indeed in 1999, he was crowned sportsmen of the century. He was a polarising figure both inside and outside the ring from the very start of his career. In 1967, Ali took the momentous decision of opposing the US war in Vietnam, a move that stripped his boxing licence for 4 years. After his conviction was overturned in 1971, Ali returned to the ring and fought in three of the most iconic contests in boxing history, helping restore his reputation with the public. He was handed his first professional defeat by Joe Frazier in the “Fight of the Century” in New York in March 1971, only to regain his title with an eighth-round knockout of George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) on 30 October 1974.

27196547240_3b6a89b4d2_c