It was always going to be the case that the short-list for BBC Sports Personality of the Year was going to be dominated by Olympians. London 2012 has left a lasting impression on the British psyche and the 12-strong final list of nominations features 11 who took at least one gold in either the Olympics or Paralympics.
For a change in British sport which, let’s face it has it’s ups and downs, the list could well have been much longer. In a normal year, Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter would have been up there while Greg Rutherford, Victoria Pendleton and Alistair Brownlee have also missed out. While not doubting that Nicola Adams, the first-ever woman boxer to win an Olympic gold medal, record-breaking yachtsman Ben Ainslie and cyclist Sarah Storey deserve recognition, it’s improbable that they’ll be able to pool enough votes to get on the podium. Paralympians Ellie Simmonds and David Weir‘s night at the ExCel Arena may also end in disappointment and, though Sir Chris Hoy is better known than most Olympians, he is another likely to miss out. They surely won’t give the award to a golfer, despite Rory McIlroy enjoying another terrific 12 months, which has reduced our short-list down to four. Unfortunately, the quartet also happen to be the four at the head of the betting.
It’s going to take something extraordinary to win the SPOTY (as most acronym-obsessed hacks insist on calling it) this year – does Jessica Ennis‘ (12/1 with Betfred) clear-cut victory in the Olympic heptathlon count as such? The London 2012 poster girl did what everyone hoped she should but were there not equally outstanding achievements in other arenas? Mo Farah (5/1 with bet365, Boylesports, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes) for example, somehow found the energy to win both the 10,000m and 5,000m just days apart. Others changed history and also won gold in London. Andy Murray‘s tears after losing the Wimbledon final were forgotten as he went on to have his revenge in the Olympics, where he also beat Novak Djorkovic. The Scot (11/1 with bet365) repeated the trick in New York where he finally landed that first Grand Slam in the US Open. It appears Murray does, after all, have a personality and he’ll attract plenty of the public vote but the bookmakers probably have it right in making Bradley Wiggins the general 2/5 favourite.
A Briton had won a tennis Grand Slam before, albeit more than 70 years ago, but the country had never produced a Tour De France winner until Wiggo crossed the finishing line on the Champs Elysee this year. Of course, technically speaking, Wiggins is in fact Belgian (he was born in Ghent and has an Australian father and an English mother) and lived for several years in France. But Lancashire now claim him as one of their own and the fact that he went onto to win the individual time-trial in the Olympics should be enough to secure him the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award.