In what was undoubtedly a huge summer for British sport, it’s no surprise the shortlist for the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award is dominated by Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
While Cyclist Bradley Wiggins, Long-distance runner Mo Farah and Tennis player Andy Murray are the bookies favourites, this year’s choice is a refreshing change from last year’s all-male list.
Olympic Heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis, gold medal boxer Nicola Adams, rower Katherine Grainger and Paralympians Ellie Simmonds and Sarah Story make up the five females competing for the award.
But who should you vote for?
Bradley Wiggins 4/11
Ol’ Wiggo is heavy favourite to lift the award and you don’t have to look far to see why; the first Brit to ever win the Tour de France, a total of 7 Olympic medals (including gold in London this summer) and not to mention those sideburns (swoon.) After the news broke of Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal, World cycling needed a new king to turn to. The SPOTY award could be a fitting crown.
Mo Farah 11/2
A survivor of last year’s shortlist, Mo’s back and bigger than ever. From a low profile contender to the face of every billboard, bus stop and newspaper Virgin Media advert – he’s had one hell of a year. Taking in his gold in both 10,000 and 5,000 metres this summer, few would begrudge him the award. Queue even more over-use of the ‘Mobot’
Andy Murray 9/1
Millions were glued to their television sets in 2005, but I shared their disappointment as Tim Henman crashed out in the third round of a Grand Slam Tournament – signalling his decline. Britain, as a nation, craved a tennis star that could represent the sport on our island. The nation clearly believes Andy Murray is that star. Gold in the singles this summer turned heads, but winning his first Grand Slam event at the US open proved impossible to ignore. It’s no surprise the bookies make him third favourite to take the award home on December 16.
Jessica Ennis 11/1
Heptathlon Champion and British Golden Girl, Ennis has shot to fame after an impressive summer. As her race was viewing by millions around the globe, she has rapidly become the face of Woman’s sport in Britain. 2011’s shortlist was heavily criticised for only featuring men; Jessica stands the greatest chance to ensure we have a female winner this year.
David Weir 40/1
A true star of the Paralympics 2012, David took home gold in the 800m, 1500m, 5000m and the T54 Marathon to become Team GB’s joint most successful athlete at the Games with Sarah Storey. Adding these to the three gold’s Weir took at the IPC Athletics World Championship, it shows the determination he had to go through to get where he is today: ‘’I had to be in super-human to win four and I’ve done it.’’ The SPOTY award would sure to be the perfect end to his monumental year.
Ellie Simmonds 66/1
An impressive haul of two gold’s, one silver and one bronze ensured Ellie Simmonds remained Team GB’s sweetheart of the swimming team. The youngest in the shortlist at just 18, she showed tremendous courage not only to win two of her events but also set new world records in both the 400m and 200m. Clearly, acknowledgement of her achievements shouldn’t go unnoticed and golden postboxes in Walsall and Swansea clearly show Ellie’s intent to take home the award
Sir Chris Hoy 125/1
Victory in both the Team Sprint and Men’s Keirin this summer meant Sir Chris claimed his fifth and sixth gold overall to become the most successful British Olympian of all time. Enough said. The 36-year-old has announced he will not attend the 2016 games, so this year’s SPOTY award would be a perfect climax to his already assured status as track cycling’s greatest ever sprinter.
Ben Ainslie 174/1
The man from the small town of Macclesfield took all the main headlines as victory as victory in the Finn class ensured he was the world’s most decorated Olympic sailor. A flag-bearer at the closing ceremony, he remains quite modest as an interview taken after receiving his gold medal shows; ‘’It’s times like this you are supposed to come out with something clever but I can’t think of anything.’’ Before adding; ‘’I am speechless. It has been an amazing Olympics.’’
Katherine Grainger 250/1
Another water sport Olympian, the rower and previous three time silver medal Olympian finally took Gold in the Double Sculls at London 2012 – ending a 15 year battle to get the top spot which she has craved for so long. In 2008 questions were asked as Grainger’s heart was broken as another silver medal was draped around her neck, even though many talked of no one else for gold in Beijing. But it was 2010, where it all changed. Partnered with Anna Watkins, the duo went on to win every race they have entered. If not the SPOTY award, then a dame hood should surely follow.
Sarah Storey 250/1
Taking home 4 gold medals at the games ensured Storey had her name carved in stone in GB Paralympian history. Taking her tally to 22, a clean sweep of her 4 events in London ensured heads are turning her way – leading Mark Bristow, Paralympic cycling champion, to label her ‘‘a phenomenal athlete, even on the able-bodied side, never mind the Paralympics.’’
Nicola Adams 250/1
Adams made history this summer as she became the first ever female boxer to win an Olympic gold medal. As she danced around the ring in the final round of her gold medal flyweight event, she made her opponent Ren Cancan from China look like an amateur. ‘’it’s a dream come true,’’ she told BBC sport afterwards. ‘’To be taking the gold medal back to Leeds is just phenomenal.’’ Don’t expect adding the SPOTY award to her mantle will let it all go to her head though, as Nikki believes keeping her feet on the ground is important; ‘’I just like being the normal Nikki Adams – walking to dog, doing day-to-day things. I’m going to try and stay like that.’’
Rory McIlroy 250/1
A survivor from last year’s shortlist, Rory had gone from strength to strength in 2012. A Honda Classic win in Palm Beach Gardens ensured he became the World’s Number One (the second youngest ever to do so), a record breaking PGA Championship victory which included smashing the previous best by 8 strokes and topping it off with a flawless Ryder Cup victory to inspire a European comeback documents a year where McIlroy has really come of age. Adding this to his record-breaking U.S Open win last year will surely result in voters scrambling to back the Northern Irishman.
This year’s event will be held at London’s ExCel centre on December 16, with the winner decided by public vote.