Big in 2006: From Andy to Wayne, and don't forget Michelle

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The Independent Online

ANDY MURRAY: Those who forecast an even greater year for the teenaged Scot are soon smiling. At the Australian Open he shows who is really British No 1 by beating Greg Rusedski and then Tim Henman before losing a five-set quarter-final to Roger Federer. John McEnroe predicts he will have broken into the world top 10 by Wimbledon.


CHARLIE HODGSON: England promise to dazzle as the Six Nations champions Wales come to Twickenham, and the hosts have the ideal fly-half in Charlie Hodgson, deft and devastatingly thrusting. But the Sale man can kick, too. Last year's Welsh penalty hero Gavin Henson is serving a ban, and Hodgson's goal in the 79th minute wins it.


PAULA RADCLIFFE: Wins her first major championship title on the track since 2002, at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Only Edith Masai of Kenya can keep up with the 32-year-old Briton in the early stages of the 10,000m but, like the rest of the nominal opposition, she is also knocked for six by the relentless pace maintained by Radcliffe.


TONY MCCOY: Even for a jockey so prolific, there had long been one glaring omission on his CV. Finally, at the 11th attempt, Tony McCoy achieves that elusive prize as he and Jonjo O'Neill-trained favourite Clan Royal survive those daunting obstacles - and a late challenge by last year's winner, Hedgehunter - for a famous success in the Grand National.


RICKY HATTON: Having settled his dispute with Frank Warren out of court, the "Hit Man" realises his dream of seeing his name in lights in Las Vegas. And it's lights out for the light-welterweight's veteran Canadian challenger Arturo Gatti, whom he consigns to retirement despite further cuts. Next up, he says, is the great Floyd Mayweather.


PAUL ROBINSON: After finishing runners-up to Sweden in their World Cup group, England meet Germany in Munich in the first knockout round on 25 June. The Saturday television audience is transfixed by a gripping 1-1 draw, following which the Spurs keeper isa national hero after saving two penalties as England finally win a shoot-out against the Germans.


MICHELLE WIE: The 16-year-old golfing sensation is the only female to take up the Royal and Ancient's begrudging invite to try to qualify for The Open Championship. The Hawaiian cruises through the regionals, but is agonisingly denied a place at Hoylake when missing out by a shot at final qualifying. Nevertheless, history has been made.


TIM BENJAMIN: Following in the footsteps of his mentor, Roger Black, and of David Jenkins (whose high-stepping, upright style his quarter-miling style so uncannily resembles), Benjamin becomes the latest Briton to win the European 400m title. The fast-finishing Cardiffian emerges as a clear winner at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg.


IAN WOOSNAM: No longer simply "the only Welshman to have won a major", Woosnam is now "the captain whose Ryder Cup team inflicted on America an unprecedented third defeat in a row". Tiger Woods once again shows his hatred of team golf and ominously warns of "reviewing my future schedules". A partying Dublin barely notices.


JENSON BUTTON: Improved aerodynamics and a radical new engine make BAR-Honda the surprise package of the season. Button wins five races in a thrilling four-way title tussle with Michael Schumacher, Alonso and Raikkonen. His championship hopes are only ended in the final GP, as Schumacher collides with him on the first bend in Brazil.


ANDREW FLINTOFF: "Freddie" wows the Australian public in his first Ashes appearance Down Under. Ten wickets and a swashbuckling century in the First Test at Brisbane secure victory and an eternal place in Aussie hearts. But he falls over after chasing Ian Chappell round a pub car park and flies home injured. England lose the Ashes before the new year.


WAYNE ROONEY: Like Moore, Gascoigne and Owen, Rooney's exploits at a World Cup earn him the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. His five goals in five games couldn't stop Argentina beating England 2-1 in the quarter-finals but led to a £45m bid from Real Madrid, accepted by the Glazer family, prompting Sir Alex Ferguson's departure.

Contributions by Steve Tongue, James Corrigan, Simon Turnbull, Nick Townsend, Ronald Atkin, Hugh Godwin, Alan Hubbard, Andrew Tong and Simon Redfern