Penny, Crosby, Rio Olympics: 10 big Canadian sport stories from 2016
In no particular order, here’s a look at 10 big Canadian sport stories from the past year:
ANDRE THE GIANT
Sprinter Andre De Grasse did more than just win three medals at the Rio Games.
He let the world know there might just be an heir apparent to Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, the long-standing owner of the world’s fastest man title.
De Grasse won silver in the 200 metres and bronze in the 100 and 4×100 relay in his Olympic debut.
The 22-year-old from Markham, Ont., could be hitting his peak at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Bolt, 30, is not planning to defend his titles at the next Games.
The World Cup of Hockey made its return in 2016 and Team Canada picked up where it left off when the tournament was last played in 2004.
The host side successfully defended its title last September by sweeping a best-of-three final against Team Europe.
Brad Marchand scored the winning goal in the final minute as Canada wrapped up the title with a 2-1 win at Air Canada Centre.
The victory extended Canada’s win streak in best-on-best competition to 16 games, dating back to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
WATCH ABOVE: Oleksiak has a breakout year
Penny Oleksiak picked the perfect time for a breakout performance.
The Toronto swimmer won four Olympic medals – including gold in the 100-metre freestyle – and carried the Maple Leaf into the closing ceremony at Maracana Stadium.
Oleksiak, at the tender age of 16, became Canada’s most decorated swimmer at a single Summer Games.
She had competed at the world junior championships just a year earlier.
Golfer Brooke Henderson became a force on the LPGA Tour in 2015. She showed this year that it was not a fluke.
Henderson won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last June to become the first Canadian to win a women’s golf major since 1968.
The 19-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont., also successfully defended her title at the Cambia Portland Classic.
Henderson posted 15 top-10 finishes on the season and finished the year ranked eighth in the world.
WATCH ABOVE: Milos Raonic does Canada proud at Wimbledon
Tennis player Milos Raonic keeps setting new Canadian benchmarks in his pursuit of that elusive Grand Slam title.
Raonic defeated Swiss ace Roger Federer in a thrilling five-set semifinal at Wimbledon last July to become the first Canadian to reach a men’s singles final at a major.
The 25-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., dropped a 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (2) decision to local favourite Andy Murray in the final.
Raonic beat Federer last January in Brisbane to earn his eighth career ATP World Tour title. He closed the season at a career-high No. 3 in the world rankings.
The Toronto Blue Jays ended a 22-year playoff drought in 2015. They didn’t wait nearly as long to make their return to baseball’s post-season.
Under new president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins, the Blue Jays made it to the American League Championship Series for the second year in a row.
Toronto needed extra innings to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in the wild-card game before sweeping the Texas Rangers in the AL Division Series. The Blue Jays eventually fell to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.
Cleveland and Toronto also reached the final four in the NBA. The Cavaliers defeated the Raptors in the Eastern Conference final and then beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA final.
WATCH ABOVE: Sidney Crosby brings Stanley Cup parade to hometown for 2nd time
Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby keeps finding new ways to top himself.
The 29-year-old forward from Cole Harbour, N.S., had a dream year in 2016.
Crosby helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup last spring and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player in the playoffs.
He also led Canada to gold at the World Cup of Hockey in September and was named tournament MVP.
WATCH ABOVE: Ottawa Redblacks win cities first Grey Cup in 40 years
Everything looked to be going the Calgary Stampeders’ way entering Grey Cup week.
The West Division champions were riding high after a 15-2-1 regular season and comfortable victory in the West Final. But the final hurdle could not be cleared as the Ottawa Redblacks ended the Stamps’ dominant season in an overtime thriller.
Ottawa quarterback Henry Burris threw for 461 yards and earned MVP honours. Ernest Jackson’s 18-yard touchdown catch was the difference.
Toronto’s BMO Field was home to another championship game less than two weeks later. The Seattle Sounders defeated Toronto FC 5-4 on penalty kicks.
WATCH ABOVE: Women dominating for Canada at Rio Olympics
The Canadian Olympic Committee’s goal at the start of the Summer Olympics was a top-12 finish in the medal standings.
Thanks to a 22-medal effort from Canadian athletes, it was mission accomplished.
Canada was 10th in the overall medal count after winning four gold medals, three silvers and 15 bronze medals.
Trampolinist Rosie MacLennan, swimmer Penny Oleksiak, high jumper Derek Drouin and wrestler Erica Wiebe won gold.
Many athletics fans were left scratching their heads when pole vaulter Shawn Barber struggled mightily at the Rio Games.
Big things were expected for the reigning world champ from Toronto, who had trouble in the qualifying round and ended up settling for a 10th-place finish.
It was revealed nearly two months later that Barber was only cleared to compete a few days before the Games after testing positive for trace amounts of cocaine.
Barber was permitted to compete in Rio after it was determined he unknowingly ingested the banned substance during a tryst with a woman in July.
© 2016 The Canadian Press