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2016: Year of the sporting drought-breaker

AAP logoAAP 22/12/2016 Warren Barnsley

WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS: 2016'S SPORTING BROKEN DROUGHTS

Leicester City (132 years): Two years prior, Leicester were playing in English soccer's second tier and narrowly avoided Premier League relegation the following season. Despite heading into the 2015-16 title race as 5000-1 outsiders, they wrapped up the competition with two games remaining. The first title in the club's history was one of the greatest underdog triumphs in sport.

Chicago Cubs (108 years): Long-known as the MLB's "loveable losers", Chicago looked set for more disappointment when they trailed Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven finals series. But when third baseman Kris Bryant fielded a grounder and fired to first for game seven's final out, the Curse of the Billy Goat was lifted.

Western Bulldogs (62 years): When coach Luke Beveridge arrived at a struggling club in 2014, even the most faithful Bulldogs supporter would have thought a premiership in two years was fanciful. But from seventh after the regular season, the young team stunned Sydney in a classic grand final for a famous 22-point win for their first flag since 1954.

Cronulla Sharks (49 years): "Waiting for Cronulla to win the premiership is like leaving the porch light on for Harold Holt," former Sharks coach Jack Gibson famously said. Melbourne led 12-8 late in the NRL decider, but controversial Sharks forward Andrew Fifita wrestled four defenders to score in the 69th minute. Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen summed up the moment: "Turn your porch lights off because we are coming home with the trophy."

Cleveland Cavaliers (46 years): Like the Cubs, the Cavs were also staring down the barrel of a 3-1 final series deficit against Golden State. No team in NBA history had won a championship from that far behind in the finals. But superstar forward LeBron James would not be denied his third title, racking up a game seven triple-double to clinch the title for Cleveland - the city's first championship in any sport in 52 years.

Portugal: They had never won a major tournament and that didn't look like changing at Euro 2016 after finishing third in their group. Things took a turn for the worse in the final when star Cristiano Ronaldo limped off in the first half against hosts France. But a superb long-range Eder strike was enough for Portugal to claim the title.

Hurricanes (21 years): The Wellington-based side had constantly threatened in past Super Rugby competitions, losing two finals and making the semis five times. That all was forgotten on a miserable night in the New Zealand capital when they were too good for South Africa's Lions in the 2016 final, with All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett starring in the 20-3 victory.

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