Top five performances that took the sporting world by storm in 2016

It’s fair to say nobody expected these rank outsiders to beat the odds and script history with their undying spirit.

Watching the underdogs overcome adversities and triumph is probably the best experience in the world of sport. Their undying passion and dedication in the sporting arena make for a great story. Moreover, these enthralling stories go on to inspire millions. Check out some of these that transpired in 2016.

Foxes’ undying spirit

ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP

Often considered ‘relegation battlers’, Leicester City outfoxed top teams to shock the sporting world by lifting the Premier League title for the first time in their history. After miraculously escaping relegation two years ago, who would have thought that the Foxes had it in them to do the unthinkable? Managed by Claudio Ranieri, Leicester at first didn't seem threatening, with a handful of bargain buys featuring in their campaign. But Ranieri inspired these players to demonstrate a world-class team effort. The Foxes went on to win 23 of their 38 games, winning the Premier League by 10 points.

‘Monica who?’ stuns top aces

LUIS ACOSTA / AFP

In a competition where players like Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber were expected to shine, Puerto Rico’s little-known 22-year-old Monica Puig took centre stage and snatched gold. At the Rio Olympics, the newbie pulled off a series of inspiring performances, forcing her opponents to bow down to her dazzling spirit. For someone who never went beyond the quarterfinals of a major tournament, facing two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova was like a mountain climb. Be that as it may, she beat the odds to see off the Czech ace and cemented her place in the final where she faced then world number two Kerber. Puig's victory in the final came in dramatic fashion as she saved six break points to clinch her nation's first ever gold at the Olympics.

Cubs end their curse

EZRA SHAW / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

It took 108 years for the Chicago Cubs to end their title drought in Major League Baseball's World Series when they defeated the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in a thrilling contest. Fans called it ‘the beginning of a dynasty.’ Moreover, the Cubs reached the 100-win mark for the first time since 1935 and won a total of 103 games in the regular season. The Cubs faced it all in their quest for glory. From being called ‘the lovable losers', they fought back from a 3-1 deficit against the Cleveland Indians and turned their fortunes around in a big way.

Ireland stun Black Caps

PHIL WALTER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Moving on from the Cubs' famous comeback, the Soldier Field Stadium in Chicago hosted a sensational match that took the rugby world by storm. Ireland had not had a win against New Zealand in 111 years and there was no reason to believe that the established order will be broken. The Emerald Isle, however, turned the tables on the All Blacks with a brilliant 40-29 win courtesy of five tries, ending their record unbeaten run of 18 matches.

Portugal fight their way to the trophy

FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Fernando Santos' players did not showcase thunderous performances at Euro 2016 but they did enough to lift the trophy. Portugal looked shaky from the first encounter itself in Group F. However, a little rub of the green helped them get through to the knockout stage by a hair's breadth. Things didn’t improve for them greatly in the knockouts either but somehow they manged to advance to the final where hosts France joined them for the title showdown. Again, the hosts were tipped to claim the ultimate trophy but that’s not what happened at Stade de France. Eder's strike in the second-half guided Portugal to their maiden Euro success, ending the disappointment of five semifinal defeats and one runner-up finish.

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