2017 is already 10 days old and some amazing sport is already underway, including the Dakar Rally. As we look forward to what 2017 will have to offer. So it’s an important thing at this point in time for us to diarise all the important things like children’s birthdays, anniversaries and other important things, but importantly I will be also adding the following 10 events to my calendar, amongst others. Here are the 10 events I am most excited for in 2017!
10 – The Comrades Marathon
After the drama of last year where Caroline Wostmann lost the race but won the adoration of South Africa for refusing to give up, you have to be a little bit excited for this year’s Comrades. It’s an up run, my personal favourite to watch as you can catch action at the Nedbank Green Mile and make it to the finish in time to see your loved ones home! Can South Africa continue their recent resurgent domination of the race?
9 – Women’s Cricket World Cup
In 2015 we had both the Men’s Cricket and Rugby World Cup. In 2017 it will be the turn of the ladies. I personally am not that enamoured by the rugby, but have a genuine sense of excitement about the cricket. Australia have been the consistent dominant force in the Women’s game, but the emergence of professionalism has helped the other countries develop. South Africa will be looking to improve on their best ever finish when we made the semi-final in 2005.
8 – PDC World Darts Championships
I have a genuine love for Darts and being able to see some of the recently completed World Championships won by Michael van Gerwen in record breaking fashion, I can’t wait for the season ahead. Of course there is the Premier League, the World Cup, the Masters and the Grand Prix to look forward to, but the big one will see out 2017 as the likes of Gary Anderson, Raymond van Barneveld and Phil Taylor try to stop the flying Dutchmen from defending his title.
7 – The Masters
The finest major in sports in surely the Masters. It is steeped in history and tradition and gives the winner a dapper new blazer to wear out rather than a trophy that they have to return immediately. Starting off with the family friendly Par 3 Challenge, the Masters produces sublime quality throughout the weekend and ultimately has given us some of the most climatic Sundays in golf. Will Spieth bounce back from his choke? Will Rory finally win the Green Jacket? Or will a South African produce the goods and give the country a fourth winner?
6 – FIH World League Semi-Final
This year Randburg Astro will play host to the Men’s and the Women’s World League Semi-Finals. It’s a massive tournament with massive ranking points and it gives South Africa the opportunity to play some of the World’s best teams in front of a home crowd. The men will welcome Australia, the top ranked side in the world, along with 2008 and 2012 Olympic Gold Medal winners Germany, Rio 2016 Runners Up Belgium, bogey side New Zealand, Spain and a few qualifiers from Round 2. The Ladies will host the Olympic Champions (kind of) England, the dominant Argentina, as well as USA, Germany and Japan. It’s the biggest hockey we have seen live in South Africa!
5 – The Ashes
There is no test series that draws the attention of the neutral quite as meaningfully as the Ashes. England have won 5 of the last 7, including the most recent series that they won 3-2. Of course the previous series in Australia will be remembered as one of the most one sided when Australia won 5-0. Australia of course are in a bit of a rebuilding phase themselves while England are relatively established. It all makes for one heck of a great series.
4 – FINA World Aquatics Championship
This year, the 17th FINA World Aquatics Championship heads to my favourite Eastern European City, Budapest. In 2015 South Africa won our 10th gold medal when Chad Ho snatched the Marathon swim, after Chad le Clos had earlier won gold in the 100m Butterfly. Of course the big hopes will once again be with Chad and Cameron, but with hopes that the likes of Sebastien Rousseau or Myles Brown can sneak a medal or two for the Green and Gold.
3 – Proteas Tour England
It’s been five years since we last had a test tour of England. That will always be a tour remembered for the career ending injury that happened to Mark Boucher just prior to the start of the series. It will also be remembered for the incredible 311* by Hashim Amla in the innings victory in the first test. South Africa also moved to World No. 1 after winning the series. In 2017 we go without Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis (and obviously no Abbott), but there is little doubt that a test series in England is one of the prime tours of your career. It also presents the Proteas with a chance of completing a very rare hat-trick of away series victories in England. Faf, over to you.
2 – The Presidents Cup
The Presidents Cup has lost its allure somewhat due largely to the ridiculous domination of the Americans. But for the South African fans this is as close as we get to a Ryder Cup and the team usually has good SA Representation. If he manages to get selected it might also be the last Presidents Cup for our favourite South African golfer, Ernie Els, and you have to hope he gets to go out on a high. Currently there are 3 Internationals in the Top 10 of the World Golf Rankings (Day (1), Matsuyama (6) & Scott (7)) with a further four in the top 26. The Internationals could feature an incredibly exciting line up to try and finally break the massive streak of the Americans. Heck if Trump can become president, anything is possible!
1 – IAAF World Athletics Championships
Why would you get excited about this as a South African? Akani Simbine. Wayde van Niekerk. Anaso Jobodwana. Caster Semenya. Luvo Manyonga. Just a host of names that have done us extremely proud in the athletics world in the past 24 months or so. London’s Olympic Stadium will play host to the Champs that will see South Africa legitimately trying to add to our tally of 8 golds, 6 silvers and 7 bronzes as well as emulating and beating our best performance of 2 gold medals at a Championship. Who are the 8 gold medal winners previously you ask? Marius Corbett (Javelin – 1997), 4 x 100m relay (2001), Hestrie Cloete (High Jump – 2001 & 2003), Jacques Freitag (High Jump – 2003), Caster Semenya (800m – 2009), Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (800m – 2009) & Wayde van Niekerk (400m – 2015). I can’t wait!
What event of the year are you most excited about seeing? To help you with all the sport this year we have also put together a monthly calendar highlighting 3/4 of the big events you can see in that month! Its going to be epic!