AP PHOTOS: The top sports photos from Latin America in 2016

AP News
Posted: Dec 15, 2016 12:06 AM
AP PHOTOS: The top sports photos from Latin America in 2016

Sporting events provided a wealth of images in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2016, with the world's top soccer stars battling on the pitch, the 2016 Summer Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro along with the Paralympic Games, and the Dakar Rally roaring through Argentina.

Brazil's national team redeemed itself in the Olympics after its disappointing performance in the World Cup, beating powerhouse Germany on penalty kicks to win the gold medal. Superstar Neymar scored the decisive goal in the shootout in Maracana stadium to give Brazil the Olympic win.

Soccer fans across the region were also transfixed by qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup and the Copa Libertadores, South America's top club tournament.

Among the striking images were a fan who invaded the field to kneel in front of Argentine superstar Lionel Messi during a World Cup qualifying match in Mendoza, Argentina, and a photo of Neymar holding his bleeding face after a rough play during match against Bolivia in Natal, Brazil.

Outside soccer, Stephane Peterhansel won the Dakar Rally for the 12th time and an AP image captured Argentina's Kevin Benavidez racing during the eighth stage of the rally in Cafayate, Argentina.

Usain Bolt's victory in the Rio Olympics men's 100-meter final caused euphoria back home in Jamaica.

The 2016 Paralympic Games were also held in Brazil. In a striking Associated Press image, amputee Amy Purdy danced with a robot during the opening ceremony.