To say Summer 2016 has been mixed for the UK is a huge understatement. Across the world of Entertainment we seem to have lost, at relatively young ages, more than a fair quota of some of our brightest talents. In sport (if we ignore our National Football Team) UK sportspeople have been taking on – and beating – the world’s best. Whilst in National politics, the EU In/Out referendum has seen our political establishment rocked and friends and families divided.
It all means that for lots and lots of reasons – both happy and sad – there’s plenty to remember from Summer 2016. Here’s our retrospective on the big deals and stories that dragged us down, or pepped us up…
We Brits love our sport, and 2016 has been another bumper year. Whether it’s the money the National Lottery are ploughing into UK Sport that’s enabling enough of our stars to become full-time professional athletes, that there are more driven people or something in the nations psyche willing them all on – we’ll revel in the results of 2016 for years to come.
We don’t need to say much more about Team GB’s performance at the Rio 2016 Olympics. 2nd in the overall medal table. 27 Gold Medals, 23 Silver and 17 Bronze – 2 more than the overall haul from London 2012. Naysayers might argue that with Russia banned from some events we lucked in to win more – but we’ve beaten the powerhouse that is China, which kind of negates that argument.
Whilst we were busy celebrating our Olympics medal tally, the Paralympics got underway. Team GB’s Paralympic athletes took the baton from their able-bodied counterparts – they ran, jumped, swam, lifted, kicked, pedalled (and just about every other verb you could apply to competitive sport) in every discipline of the Paralympic Games. The medal tally wasn’t just impressive (we were second to China) – it was outstanding. The word inspiring seems to get used for everything these days – but it doesn’t do what we saw in the Paralympics justice.
Our Andy’s been on a roll. In July he won Wimbledon. In August it was Olympic Gold, where he showed some serious mental toughness (perhaps as a result of working again with Ivan Lendl). In the U.S. Open was beaten in the Quarter Finals in a shock five set thriller by Japan’s Kei Nishikori. Murray was typically magnanimous in defeat – although the circumstances during the match (an inconveniently timed stoppage for rain and the closure of the roof) played in to Nishikori’s hands.
In the Davis Cup in September things were hanging on a knife edge. It looked like we were about to lose out to Argentina, but Murray dug in (again) against Del Potro in another 5 set thriller. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough – Murray lost that one and overall the Argentinians battled hard to make it to the semi-finals, eventually winning 3 matches to 2.
Christ Froome won his third Tour de France – and became the first Brit to win the race back to back. He went on to Olympic Bronze in the Road racing time trial. Before the rest of Team GB had even returned from Rio, Froome was in Spain, competing in the Vuelta (Spain’s equivalent to the Tour de France. With Three stages still to go he was in second place – chasing down leader Nairo Quintana. He took 1 minute out of him on the third to final stage, but then an uncharacteristic strategic lapse by his Team Sky on the penultimate stage left him with a little too much to do. From came in as still very impressive second to Quintana, 1.23s behind – after a total distance of 3,315.4 km.
Lewis Hamilton spent the summer overhauling a 47 point deficit to his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg. It looked like our triple World Champion would be set to lose out in the title race this year – especially after mechanical woes early in the season meant inevitable grid penalties for exceeding permitted engine quota. But at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps Mercedes replaced his engine between every practice session. Hamilton stormed from the back of the grid to Third, dropping just 10 points to Rosberg. A poor start at Monza a week later saw him hand the win to Rosberg – and then in Singapore the World Champion could only manage Third – whilst Rosberg won. Hamilton goes into the Malaysia Grand Prix with a nine point deficit to Rosberg – The World Championship is sure to lead to a humdinger of a season run-out.
2016 started as a year of sadness across the entertainment industry – we lost some of the brightest sparks in the performing arts. Bowie, Wogan, Rickman, Frey, Corbett, Daniels, It seemed that just when we thought it had all settled down there was more sad news. Victoria Wood died at just 62 and then Caroline Aherne at just 52. Both taken too soon, but they both packed making more laughter into 5 minutes than most of us will manage in a lifetime. And if there’s a gift worth having in life it’s raising a smile. Here’s Victoria with a sentiment any normal person will share with her.
Glastonbury was as big (if not bigger) as ever. Stand out acts hailed by the music press included Foals, New Order – with a superb career retrospective set, Coldplay gave tragic band Viola Beach the Glasto debut they’ll never see – playing ‘Boys that Sing’. It was all topped off on the Sunday by a quick secret gig by Charlotte Church. Yes, you read that right, the once angelic face from the Valley’s ground out Nine Each Nails’ Closer, amongst other tracks form her impressive rock repertoire.
Brexit and UK Government
The first half of Summer 2016 was spent debating Brexit in the run up to the In/Out referendum. Or rather it was spent conducting wholesale scaremongering on what a United Kingdom, inside or outside of the European might look like. The realities of membership barely made an appearance and in the end a majority of Brit’s chose Out. That sent the political establishment into a flat spin. The Conservative Government was rocked with David Cameron’s resignation and Theresa May was installed as his replacement. But not until after some shambolic political manoeuvring by Michael Gove, who tried to outflank rival Boris Johnson for the premiership. Boris backed out of the leadership race and has since been installed as home secretary. Whilst Gove has helpfully wandered off into the political wilderness.
You’d have thought that Labour would have been making a barnful of political hay whilst all this was going on. But they’re in even more turmoil – leader Jeremy Corbin suffered a vote of no confidence from his Parliamentary colleagues and a Leadership contest was the only way out. Except it wasn’t, because it reinstalled Corbyn as Party leader – the grassroots party members electing him seem to favour his hard-left approach. It’s a clash of ideals for the party as his parliamentary colleagues favour a more populist left of centre approach – which they see as more likely to get them elected.
There’s still just under 1/3 of 2016 left to go… but the odds on Team GB winning BBC Sports Team of the Year must be about evens! It certainly won’t be the England football team.