Athletics

Of swansongs 
and new dawns

Usain Bolt's final race, Lee Chong Wei's last world meet and 
the SEA Games are among next year's events to watch

JAN 14-FEB 5

African Nations Cup, Gabon

A new king is set to rule Africa, after Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure called time on international football.

Will Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang assume the mantle and take Gabon to the pedestal?

Will Algeria's Riyad Mahrez put in a sterling display to force the big transfer during this shop window? There's only one way to find out.

JAN 19-22

SMBC Singapore Golf Open

Sprinter Usain Bolt, swimmer Joseph Schooling, tennis player Dominika Cibulkova, shuttler Lee Chong Wei, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and paddler Mui Hirano (above) are among the athletes who will have a busy 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Three-time champion Adam Scott, Spanish star Sergio Garcia and four-time Major winner Ernie Els are among the stars competing for a prize purse of US$1 million (S$1.4m) at Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong course.

MARCH 2-5


HSBC WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS, SINGAPORE

Reigning champion Jang Ha Na 
of South Korea will be back to defend her title at the 
US$1.5 million tournament at Sentosa Golf Club's newly renovated Tanjong Course.

Jang, 24, will aim to be the first woman to retain her title here, with even the likes of Lorena Ochoa and Paula Creamer failing to do so in the past.

APRIL 15-16

HSBC Rugby Sevens, Singapore

Sprinter Usain Bolt, swimmer Joseph Schooling (above), tennis player Dominika Cibulkova, shuttler Lee Chong Wei, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and paddler Mui Hirano are among the athletes who will have a busy 2017. PHOTO: ST FILE

More than 27,000 fans witnessed Kenya's shock defeat of eventual Olympic champions Fiji at the National Stadium during the Singapore leg of this year's HSBC Rugby World Sevens Series, despite the Republic's nine-year absence from the series' calendar.

Organisers of the Singapore Sevens are aiming to attract 30,000 fans a day next year.

MAY 29-JUNE 5

Sprinter Usain Bolt, swimmer Joseph Schooling, tennis player Dominika Cibulkova, shuttler Lee Chong Wei, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo (above) and paddler Mui Hirano are among the athletes who will have a busy 2017. PHOTO: AFP

World Table Tennis Championships, Germany

China's dominance of the sport will be tested by the likes of rising Japan at this world meet.

After dropping Feng Tianwei from the national set-up, all eyes will be on Singapore, too.

JUNE 17-JULY 2

Confederations Cup, Russia

Despite a trophy-laden 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo's contribution in national colours is still debatable.

Case in point: The European Championship final in July, when Portugal beat France in a dramatic upset after Ronaldo's involvement ended prematurely due to injury.

Does his absence benefit his country more than his presence does? We will learn more about that at the dress rehearsal for the 2018 World Cup.

AUG 4-13

Sprinter Usain Bolt, swimmer Joseph Schooling, tennis player Dominika Cibulkova, shuttler Lee Chong Wei (above), footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and paddler Mui Hirano are among the athletes who will have a busy 2017. PHOTO: AFP

World Athletics Championships, London

Blink and you might miss the last show by Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt.

The first athlete in history to claim three consecutive Olympic gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay events will hang up his spikes after London's World Championships, where he is likely to focus on only the blue-riband event.

AUG 19-31

South-east Asia Games, Kuala Lumpur

Singapore will be aiming to do well in Kuala Lumpur to build on the momentum created during the 2015 home Games.

Then, the Republic won an all-time high 84 golds, 73 silvers and 102 bronzes, and were second to only Thailand in the medal tally.

Sports such as swimming, bowling, sailing, shooting, fencing and table tennis will be looked upon to deliver the bulk of Singapore's gold medals next year.

Sprinter Usain Bolt, swimmer Joseph Schooling, tennis player Dominika Cibulkova (above), shuttler Lee Chong Wei, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and paddler Mui Hirano are among the athletes who will have a busy 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

AUG 21-27

World Badminton Championships, Glasgow

Can't get enough of the rivalry between Lee Chong Wei and his nemesis Lin Dan?

2017 will offer possibly the last chance to see them in competitive action together.

Lee, who lost his third straight Olympic final to a Chinese opponent last year, had declared that he will give it one last shot at the world championship, which he has never won as well.

SEPT 15-17

F1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix

Next year's edition of F1's first night race will have a new winner, after the retirement of Mercedes' 2016 world champion and Singapore winner Nico Rosberg.

Eight times in the last nine seasons, the winner of the Singapore race went on to clinch the world title, and all eyes will be on the car that crosses the finish line first at the Marina Bay street circuit.

OCT 23-29

WTA Finals Singapore

Three different players were crowned the queen of women's tennis in the past three Finals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium: Serena Williams in 2014, Agnieszka Radwanska in 2015, and Dominika Cibulkova this year.

Williams, who had a lacklustre 2016, will be focused on regaining her stranglehold, while incumbent Angelique Kerber certainly would not give up without a fight.

- LIM SAY HENG, WIRE SERVICES

SEA GamesUsain Boltjoseph schooling