Sporting highlights of 2017 | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 29.12.2017
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Sporting highlights of 2017

Although 2017 was something of an off year in terms of major events, it did feature plenty of sporting hightlights nonetheless. Here is DW's look back at the sporting year that was.

Bolt bows out

It was a three-act play. In the first act of his grand farewell at the World Athletics Championships in London, superstar sprinter Usain Bolt finished third in the 100 meters. The Jamaican then skipped the 200 meters altogether.  Just a few meters into the 4 x 100 relay, the very last race of his career, Bolt suffered a cramp in his left thigh and went down in a heap. His teammates helped him across the finish line. Bolt would say afterwards that while he would miss the sport, he was looking forward to get on with his live and travel the world. The 31-year-old retired as one of the most successful athletes in history, looking back on a career in which he won eight Olympic gold medals and 11 world championship titles.

A 10th French Open crown

In June, Roland Garros was the scene for a historic victory. Spanish clay-court specialist Rafael Nadal won his 10th French Open. No other tennis player has one a single Grand Slam as many times as that. Nadal swept Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-2, 6-3, and 6-1 in the final – completing the tournament without losing a single set.

Super Bowl comeback

The New England Patriots 34-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI in early February was also one for the record books.  Not only was it the first Super Bowl to be decided in overtime, but Tom Brady's men came back from a 25-point deficit for the win, making it the biggest comeback in the history of the National Football League's title match. 

Ronaldo helps Real repeat

Real Madrid became the first team to repeat as European champions in the Champions League era by beating Juventus 4-1 in the final in May. Cristiano Ronaldo made it a one-man-show, scoring two of Real's goals. His first, which put his side up 1-0, was Real Madrid's 500th goal in their Champions League history. His second was the 600th goal in all competitions of his professional career. At the same time, his teammate Toni Kroos became the first German to win a third Champions League title.

Confed Cup 2017 - Finale - Chile - Deutschland (picture-alliance/Pressefoto ULMER/M. Ulmer)

Lar Stindl scored the goal that won Germany the Confed Cup. Can Germany follow it up with a World Cup win in 2018?

Aiming to make history

While German clubs failed to make a mark in Europe in 2017, it was a different story when it came to the national team. The very young and inexperienced team that head coach Joachim Löw took to the Confederations Cup in Russia featured just three of members of his 2014 World Cup-winning squad (Julian Draxler, Matthias Ginter and Shkodran Mustafi). All of the rest had either retired from international football, were injured or were left off the squad to that they could give their bodies some much-needed rest. To the surprise of many, though, Germany won the tournament and will travel to Russia next summer with the goal of becoming the first team to follow up a Confed Cup win with a World Cup title.

Le Grand Depart in Germany and a positive drug test

The first stage of the Tour de France was held in Germany for the first time in the 100-year-old race's history – this time it was Düsseldorf that hosted Le Grand Depart. Apart from that it was business as usual in the world's most famous cycling race: Chris Froome led the riders up the Champs Elysee in early July as he won the fourth Tour de France of his career. Germany's Marcel Kittel won the most stages, with five, but his Tour was done after the 17th, when he was injured in a crash.

In December, a cloud would be cast over Froome though, after world cycling's governing body (UCI) revealed that he had failed a doping test at the Vuelta a Espana, which he also won. The UCI said a urine sample had revealed an "Adverse Analytical Finding" linking him to a higher than permissable dose of his asthma medication salbutamol. The case is ongoing. 

Record transfer fee

Brazilian footballer Neymar didn't win any trophies in 2017, but he was still one of the year's biggest winners. Paris Saint-Germain swept in for the 25-year-old forward during the summer transfer window, triggering his €222 million ($260 million) release clause at Barcelona. This made him by far the most expensive footballer to date.

Bundesliga Berlin vs Bremen (picture-alliance/AP/M. Sohn)

Bibiana Steinhaus made history on Matchday 3

Groundbreaker

Bibiana Steinhaus made the headlines by refereeing the Bundesliga match between Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen on September 10. This made her the first woman to referee a game in any of Europe's top leagues.

"I don't really like the gender topic, but when it comes to refereeing I understand that it's a topic for others around me," she told DW afterwards.  "At the end of the day, the performance is what matters."

Paris, LA to host Olympic Games

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also made history in 2017 – by using its congress in Lima, Peru in September to award the right to host two Summer Olympic Games at the same time – for the first time in almost a century. Paris is to host the 2024 Games and Los Angeles is to do so four years later. The last time this happened was in 1921, when the IOC awarded the 1924 Games to Paris and the 1928 Summer Olympics to Amsterdam. Both Paris and LA had bid for the 2024 Games and the IOC was keen to avoid a situation in which the loser – and perhaps no other city from a democratic country – would have launched a bid for the 2028 Olympics.

New Ironman record

IRONMAN World Championship 2017 Patrick Lange (Getty Images/Ironman/S.M. Haffey)

Patrick Lange is the sixth German to win in Hawaii

Patrick Lange set a new record at theIronman World Championship in Hawaii, winning the event in eight hours, one minute and 38 seconds. In doing so, he became the sixth German after Thomas Hellriegel (1997), Normann Stadler (2004, 2006), Faris Al-Sultan (2005), Kienle (2014) and Jan Frodeno (2015, 2016) to win in Hawaii.

When ninth place is good enough

Any Formula One fans who were hoping for that the race for the drivers' title would go down to the wire in 20017 were disappointed.Lewis Hamilton clinched the championship by finishing in ninth place in the Mexican Grand Prix, the third-last race of the season. This was the Briton's fourth drivers' title, putting him on a par with Germany's Sebastian Vettel. Both have a bit of work ahead of them if they are to equal Michael Schumacher's record of seven drivers' championships.

A new Olympic team: The OARs

As the year drew to a close the IOC was back in the headlines again as it handed down its ruling in light of allegations of systematic, state-sponsored doping at the highest level of Russian sports stemming from the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. The IOC declined to impose a blanket ban on Russian athletes at the Pyeongchang Games, but it did set out strict conditions that would allow some of them to compete – under and Olympic flag.  It said only Russian athletes who have never committed an "anti-doping rule violation" and undergo "pre-Games targeted tests" would be allowed to compete. The team is to be called OAR – Olympic Athletes of Russia.

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