Meet the ten champion contenders for the 2013 SPOTY title. From golfing glory to Olympic gold medals and that Wimbledon win, there’s plenty of top talent to choose from…
Who is he? Christopher Froome is a British road race cyclist.
Where is he from? Born 1985, in Nairobi, Kenya.
Why Nominated? Crossed the finish line on a floodlit Champs Elysées to become the second British champion of the Tour de France and the first rider born in Africa to take home the coveted yellow jersey. Froome won four individual stages, including a stunning mountaintop victory on the unforgiving Mont Ventoux, after which he required oxygen.
Interesting fact: His favourite hobby is spear fishing and he was once chased up a tree by a hippopotomous.
They say: “Inside him there is an absolute iron will to win” – team boss Dave Brailsford.
He says: “It’s the first time I’ve ever been singled out individually, but I think the fact I’m even being considered for an award shows how far cycling has come in the UK. It’s fantastic that people recognise how hard winning the Tour de France is and that, even though a British rider has won two years in a row, it’s not something that comes by easily.”
You’d never guess but… He has an allergy to the latex in his cycling kit that causes his skin to erupt in red welts.
Colin Murray’s verdict: A really difficult one to judge. On a bike, he was a huge part of the team that helped Bradley Wiggins to Tour De France success, then did it himself 12 months later. Alas, Wiggo had the rock ‘n’ roll, whereas the Froomedog is much less box office. Cycle nuts might pedal him to a podium finish.
Sporting year: 9/10 Chances: 6/10
Who is he? Ian Ronald Bell, MBE, is a batsman for Warwickshire Cricket Club and England.
Where is he from? Born 1982, Walsgrave near Coventry.
Why Nominated? He was named Player of the Series in this summer’s Ashes victory over Australia after scoring three centuries, the most runs (562) and most fours (75).
Interesting fact: During a test match, Aussie spinner Shane Warne tried to intimidate Bell by calling him “the Sherminator” after the geeky American Pie character.
They say: “Ian Bell is a better player than Kevin Pieterson and more important for England” — Australian legend Mark Waugh.
He says: “I used to get up at 6am to do boxing. I didn’t want to do it but toughness comes from doing things you don’t always want to do.”
You’d never guess but… He’s a lifelong Aston Villa fan despite his family all being Coventry fans.
Colin Murray’s verdict: Given that Beefy and Freddie are the only cricketers to win SPOTY since the 1980s, you usually need more in your locker than wickets, runs, or both. Bell was instrumental in England’s Ashes win at home, but the fortunes of the return series Down Under will affect his vote.
Who is she? Hannah Lucy Cockroft, MBE, is a wheelchair athlete and holds the Paralympic and world records for the 100m and 200m in the T34 classification.
Where is she from? Born 1992, Halifax.
Why nominated? At the World Championships she retained both her 100m and 200m titles, then won the 100m race at the Olympic Stadium Anniversary games.
They say: “Hannah clearly is world class but it would be nice to see what she could do if she was pushed” — Paralympic champion/ BBC commentator Tanni Grey-Thompson.
She says: “I had a week off after London then got back to training. Everyone else had months off and I thought, ‘this is when I’m going to win Rio.’”
Interesting fact: After Hannah suffered two cardiac arrests at birth, her parents were told she would never be able to walk, talk or live past her teenage years.
You’d never guess but… Hannah is so afraid of fish she can’t eat or even look at them.
Colin Murray’s verdict: Her amazing personality, which is in the title of this award, has made her very popular, and she backs this up with world-beating performances. Still, three athletes will split the SPOTY vote. 5/10
Who is he? Andrew Barron Murray, OBE, is a tennis player, ranked World No 4 and British No 1.
Where is he from? Born 1987, Dunblane.
Why nominated? He won his first Wimbledon title this year, ending Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s champion.
Interesting fact: He once played tennis with David Cameron in the State Dining Room at 10 Downing Street — and managed to avoid hitting the chandeliers.
They say: “There’s a lot to look forward to. I’d be surprised if Andy doesn’t win at least six majors” — former world No 1 John McEnroe.
He says: “I refused to look at my mum during the Wimbledon final because her reactions aren’t particularly helpful.”
You’d never guess but… His girlfriend Kim Sears revealed that teetotal Andy drank so much champagne while flying home after his US Open victory that he brushed his teeth with face cream.
Colin Murray’s verdict: Olympic gold and a US Open only earned him third place last year, but surely he’ll do better as the first Briton to win the men’s singles since Fred Perry in 1936. 9/10
Who is he? Stephen Leigh Halfpenny is a Welsh international rugby union player who plays for the Cardiff Blues.
Where is he from? Born 1988 in gorseinon, Swansea.
Why nominated? On this year’s British Lions tour of Australia, Halfpenny was named player of the series after breaking the Lions points record. He was also voted player of the Six Nations tournament and international player of the year at the Oscars du Rugby awards.
Interesting fact: Playing against Australia, he suffered a blow to the neck that left one side of his upper body numb but refused to leave the pitch.
They say: “Leigh is fearless, courageous and one of the best full backs in world rugby” — Wales assistant coach Rob Howley.
He says: “When I was growing up, my grandfather used to say, ‘None shall pass,’ so that’s what I always think about when I go in for a tackle.”
You’d never guess but… This year, Leigh was voted Wales’s sexiest man in a poll conducted by Wales Online.
Colin Murray’s verdict: Team players often break through to pick up this individual SPOTY award, and Welsh phones will be drained of battery voting for this superstar of rugby. Not sure my mum knows who he is, though. 6/10
Who is she? Christine Ijeoma Ohuruogu, MBe, is a 400m runner.
Where is she from? Born 1984 in Newham, east London, she grew up less than a mile from the Olympic Stadium.
Why nominated? She won gold in the 400m at the World Championships in August, setting a new British record and becoming the first British woman to win three global titles in the same event.
They say: “She’s taken on the best in the world and beaten them at their own game. One of Britain’s best ever athletes” — world champion Colin Jackson.
She says: “You have to be warrior-like in approach, you can’t show any signs of weakness. But I’m a big baby. So when I cross the line, I just let it all out.”
You’d never guess but… She once worked in a burger van at the London Arena.
Colin Murray’s verdict: Coming from nowhere to win gold at the World Championships — that will be as good as it gets this year. SPOTY will be a great night out. 5/10
Who is he? Mohamed Farah, CBE, is a double Olympic and double world champion and the UK’s greatest-ever distance runner.
Where is he from? Born 1983 in Somalia, he moved to west London aged eight.
Why nominated? In August, at the World Championships in Moscow, Farah won gold at both 5,000m and 10,000m. Earlier this year he also broke the European 1500m record.
They say: “With five global golds, Mo Farah is the greatest British athlete of all time” — Lord Coe.
He says: “I arrived in England knowing only three English phrases: ‘Excuse me’, ‘Where’s the toilet?’ and ‘Come on then’.”
You’d never guess but… Mo is often questioned by US border officials on suspicion of being a terrorist, even once producing his two gold medals to confirm his identity — without success.
Colin Murray’s verdict: He is standing side by side with Britain’s all-time athletic greats, and success in Rio will see him win SPOTY, but he’d need quite a kick to do it this time around. 7/10
Who is he? Sir Charles Benedict Ainslie, CBE, is the most successful sailor in Olympic history, having won gold at the last four Olympics.
Where is he from? Born 1977 in the sailing hotspot of Macclesfield, he grew up in Cornwall.
Why nominated? In September, Ben helped the Oracle team USA win the 34th America’s Cup 9–8 after trailing 8–1.
Interesting fact: While at sea, he once accidentally wrecked a sailing boat and had to be rescued by the RNLI.
They say: “Talk about winning the Global Race! Ben Ainslie is responsible for one of the greatest ever sporting comebacks” — PM David Cameron.
He says: “They’ve made me angry. And you don’t want to make me angry” — after competitors forced him to concede a penalty.
Colin Murray’s verdict: He led one of the most remarkable comebacks in sporting history, on land or sea, in the America’s Cup, but the lack of profile for the series in the UK will work against him at SPOTY. 6/10
Who is he? Justin Peter Rose is a pro golfer.
Where is he from? Born 1980, Johannesburg, moved to the UK aged five.
Why nominated? Justin won the US Open this year, his first Major victory, and became the first English player to win the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970.
Interesting fact: Justin broke 70 for the first time at the age of 11, and was a plus-one handicap by the time he was 14.
They say: “Justin’s got good rhythm, good balance, good swing and with all that, he’s a nice man” — BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss.
He says: “you just close your eyes, make a swing and sort of hope to see it going down the fairway.”
You’d never guess but… He has his own Blessings in a Backpack foundation that his wife Kate runs and which provides school meals for 1,600 underprivileged children in Orlando.
Colin Murray’s verdict: tearful scenes at Merion as JR chalked up his first major, with his children’s names embroidered on his footwear. Golfing fans will vote in their droves, but it’s hard to imagine another famous victory. 7/10
Who is he? Anthony Peter McCoy, OBE, is an Irish jockey.
Where is he from? Born 1974, Moneyglass, Antrim.
Why nominated? The first jump jockey to ride 4,000 winners.
Interesting fact: McCoy was the first jockey to win SPOTY (in 2010).
He says: “I could be divorced if I start talking too much about riding 5,000 winners. But I’ll drag it along a bit longer and see how my wife Chanelle is.”
You’d never guess but… He’s broken or dislocated almost every bone in his body including vertebrae, shoulder blades, ribs, cheekbones, an ankle, a wrist, a leg, collarbone, fingers. And teeth.
Colin Murray’s verdict: the SPOTY rules stipulate that the winner must be human, which may mean a steward’s enquiry is needed if Tony lifts the trophy for chalking up his 4,000th winner on board Mountain Tunes in November. 6/10
See Sports Personality of the Year, Sunday at 7:15pm on BBC1