The year is drawing to a close and sports’ enthusiasts can start looking forward to an eventful 2017 calendar which promises a number of exciting tournaments and contests.
1. X Games
Humans are constantly pushing the limits and this death-defying attitude led to the creation of extreme sports’ – a sporting arena that is gaining momentum. For those interested in only the most electrifying sporting events, involving almost superhuman athletic stunts, the X Games are a must-see. Sports include skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling in winter with skateboarding, motocross and BMX summer, among others. Held annually since 1995, the 2017 summer edition will take place in Minneapolis, USA from 13 to 16 June and the winter edition (running since 1997) will be held in Colorado, USA from 26 to 29 January 2017.
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2. Special Olympics World Winter Games
The Special Olympics World Games are held every two years, alternating between summer and winter, with the next games set for 14 to 24 March 2017 in Austria. Some 4.4 million athletes from 170 countries are involved in the Special Olympics, a massive jump from the 1 500 athletes who first participated at the event in Chicago, USA in 1968. Competitors will participate in 32 individual and team sports depending on the season and venue facilities.
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3. British & Irish Lions Tour 2017
Every four years the best rugby players of the Home Nations of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales are chosen for this Rugby Union team and come together to play the top rugby nations of the world. This year the tour takes place in New Zealand from the 3rd June to the 8th July. The 2009 Test series was lost 2–1 to South Africa, while the 2013 Test series was won 2–1 over Australia. There is bound to be an epic battle on the field as the British & Irish Lions aim to maintain their title.
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4. Women’s Rugby World Cup
Gaining in popularity, the Women’s Rugby World Cup – like the men’s equivalent – is hosted every four years at different venues around the globe. The first two tournaments, held in 1991 and 1994, weren’t officially sanctioned by the International Rugby Board (IRB) but the tournament did achieve backing in 1998. The 2017 event will take place in Ireland from 9 to 26 August where England will look to retain their title.
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5. Melbourne Cup
One of the world’s richest horse races, the Melbourne Cup is held annually at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday in November, which falls on 7 November 2017. This is Australia’s major thoroughbred horse race for three-year-olds and over covering a distance of 3 200m.
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6. Tour de France
Although the tournament has been shrouded in scandal the past few years with entrenched doping seeing many a hero toppled from his pedestal, the annual July event is still hugely popular with audiences. The 104th edition of this cycling spectacular will start in Düsseldorf, Germany on the 1 July ending in Paris, France on 23 July with South African-schooled Englishman, Christopher Froome, hoping to wear the yellow jersey once again.
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7. UCI World Road Championships
Another highly anticipated annual cycling competition and part of the Triple Crown of Cycling (alongside the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia), the World Road Championships consist of road race, individual and team time trial events held in a different city each year. Next year the event will be hosted in Bergen, Norway from 16 to 24 September.
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Hosted in Samsun, Turkey from 18 to 30 July 2017, the Deaflympics gives deaf athletes the world over a platform to display their incredible talents. This is an International Olympic Committee-sanctioned event which is held every four years with the first contest taking place in Paris, France in 1924. Athletes are required to have a hearing loss of at least 55db in their strongest ear to qualify, and they cannot use hearing aids or have cochlear implants so as to keep the games fair. Lights are used in place of a traditional starter pistol and fans are instructed to wave both hands as a show of support.
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9. US PGA Championship
Held in August annually, the 101st edition of the PGA Championship will take place in North Carolina from 10 to 13. This is one of the four major championships (alongside Masters’ Tournament, US Open and the Open Championship) in professional golf and is the final major of the year. All PGA champions immediately qualify to play in the other three majors as well as receiving membership on the PGA and European tours the following five seasons. Winners are also invited to compete in the Players’ Championship for the next five years.
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10. Vodacom Durban July 2017
The Vodacom Durban July will take place on Saturday 1st July 2017 at Greyville Racecourse in Durban. As always the horse race betting will be intense, and horse race enthusiasts will be watching and betting in all their splendour. Stay tuned for final field announcements as well as the top 5 horses to bet on at the Vodacom Durban July.
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11. President’s Cup 2017
Organised by the PGA Tour, this golfing contest pits a team representing the United States against an international team (minus Europe) biennially, hosted alternately in the USA and countries represented by the international team. Starting in 1994, it was originally held during even-numbered years however, following the cancellation of the Ryder Cup (where an American team competes against a European team) in 2001, the President’s Cup is held during odd-numbered years. The Americans have won all but two events – losing in 1998 with a draw in 2003. The 2017 contest will be held in New Jersey, USA from 26 September until 1 October.
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12. Southeast Asian (SEA) Games
This biennial, multi-sport event involves 11 countries from Southeast Asia including Cambodia,
Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines and Timor-Leste. There is no limit to the number of sporting events which include diving, biking, athletics and karate among many others. Originating in 1977, the SEA Games will next be hosted by Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 19 to 31 August.
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13. Super Bowl
A dominating event on the American sports’ calendar, the annual Super Bowl is an NFL (National Football League) contest held on a Sunday (Super Bowl Sunday) at the beginning of every year. The game itself is a culmination of the league which begins the previous summer and is one of the most-watched TV events in the country. A nice break from the political turmoil the country is now experiencing, the 2017 Super Bowl will be held on 5 February in Texas.
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14. French Open 2017
Also known as the Tournoi de Roland-Garros, this is one of the four annual grand slam tennis events (with Wimbledon, the Australian and US Opens making up the other three). This French tournament has been held since 1891 for men, with women competing from 1897 although until 1925 entry was restricted to members of French clubs. The only major played on clay, next year’s tournament will be taking place from 22 May to 11 June.
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15. 2017 ICC Champions Trophy
The 8th Edition of the ICC Champions Trophy takes place between the 1st and 18th June 2017. The tournament is held in England and Wales and the competing members are England, Australia, India, South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. India was last years winner and will be looking to retain their title.
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16. Wimbledon 2017
The Wimbledon Championships, officially called ‘The Lawn Tennis Championships’ is the oldest tennis event and, undoubtedly, one of the most well-known sporting events internationally. It forms the third grand slam tournament and is the only one held on a grass surface. Taking place from 3 to 17 July, British star, Andy Murray will be looking to earn a third title.
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17. The Masters’ Tournament
The Masters’ Tournament is played at the exclusive Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, USA every April where players compete for the illustrious green jacket. First held in 1934, the 81st Masters Tournament will take place from 6 to 9 April.
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18. FA Cup Final
More of a religion than a sport for many fans, 2017 will bring with it some much-anticipated football excitement and drama with the FA Cup final taking place on 27 May. Often referred to as the ‘Cup Final’ in England, this is the final match of the Football Association Challenge Cup which kicked off on 6 August 2016. Participating teams all belong to the Football Association in England and the event is the oldest recognised football tournament worldwide.
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19. FIFA Confederations’ Cup
Every four years the FIFA Confederations Cup – an international football tournament – is held with eight national teams participating. Holders of each of the FIFA confederation championships as well as the FIFA World Cup winners – currently Germany – and host nation compete in the event. The 2017 contest will be held from 17 June to 2 July in Russia as a prelude to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
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20. UEFA Champions’ League
The UEFA Champions’ League, or just ‘Champions League’, is an annual football competition organised by Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) for top European football clubs. This is considered one of the most prestigious club titles because of the superior level of football played throughout. The annual contest started on 13 September 2016 with the final set to take place at Cardiff, Wales on 3 June 2017.
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21. Africa Cup of Nations
The Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) is the main international association football competition in Africa. This event has taken place every second year since its 1957 inception when just three African teams – Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt – participated. Egypt won the first tournament and has gone on to win it six more times. South Africa hosted and won the 20th contest in 1996 after their ban was lifted post-apartheid. In 2013, Afcon switched to odd-number years so as not to clash with the FIFA World Cup and the 2017 event is set for 14 January to 5 February in Gabon.
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22. World Aquatics Championships
For those that follow water-based sporting events, the biennial World Championships of Swimming will be taking place in Budapest from 14 to 30 July. This event comprises a number of disciplines, namely swimming, open water swimming, water polo, synchronised swimming, diving and high diving.
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Gear up for a spectacular year of sporting events and all the drama and excitement that comes with it.
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