The BBC has extended this year’s shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year to a dozen people following Andy Murray’s heroics in the Davis Cup and Tyson Fury’s world heavyweight title win over Wladimir Klitschko.
However, the list sees a significant drop in the number of women nominated after the broadcaster revealed that just a quarter are female – down from just under a half last year.
The BBC added Murray and Fury’s names after their victories this weekend, meaning there are 12 instead of the usual ten contenders for the awards show, which is broadcast from Belfast on 20th December.
There are three women on this year’s list, cyclist Lizzie Armitstead, Women’s World Cup football hero Lucy Bronze and heptathlon comeback queen Jessica Ennis-Hill. In 2014, there were five female contenders, although Paralympic skier Kelly Gallagher and guide Charlotte Evans were nominated as one choice. Last year’s award was won by Lewis Hamilton.
The number of women nominees has become a politically charged issue since none were named on the 2011 shortlist, sparking accusations of sexism. The last female winner of the prize was equestrian champion Zara Phillips in 2006.
Among this year’s 12 nominees are two previous winners – Lewis Hamilton, who repeated his F1 title victory this year – and Andy Murray, who drove the UK on to its first Davis Cup victory since 1936.
Other names on the shortlist are Mo Farah, who retained the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at this year’s World Championships, and Chris Froome, who won the Tour De France for the second time.
Long-jump champion Greg Rutherford, breaststroke swimmer Adam Peaty, Rugby League star Kevin Sinfield and gymnast Max Whitlock are also up for the prize.
The shortlist is chosen by a panel, which includes former sports stars, newspaper editors, TV presenters and BBC executives. This year’s judges included a former winner of Sports Personality, ex-athlete Dame Mary Peters, Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, football pundit Jermaine Jenas and presenter Hazel Irvine.
The BBC’s director of sport Barbara Slater was chair of the panel.
She said: “As always, there was a lot of debate and discussion amongst the industry panel when deciding the final list of nominees.
“The panel was faced with some incredibly tough choices in deciding who should be on the shortlist. All nominees have achieved exceptional success in their respective fields in the past year and we wish each of them the best of luck, while also looking forward to a great night in Belfast.”
The BBC explained that the panel met in mid-November and agreed that “significant sporting events” that were taking place before the shortlist was revealed should be “taken into consideration”. Following the achievements of Murray and Fury, the panel was said to have unanimously agreed to add them to the ten names already on the list.
Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan will host the show, which for the first time will choose the overseas sports personality of the year by public vote.
The winner of the main award will be decided on the night by phone and online voting.
To stop people giving multiple votes for the same person, those voting online will have to be registered with a BBC sign-in on the Corporation’s website. Online votes are to be limited to one per BBC account.
BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 nominees
Lizzie Armitstead – Cycling
Lucy Bronze – Football
Jessica Ennis-Hill – Athletics
Mo Farah – Athletics
Chris Froome – Cycling
Tyson Fury – Boxing
Lewis Hamilton – Formula 1
Andy Murray – Tennis
Adam Peaty – Swimming
Greg Rutherford – Athletics
Kevin Sinfield – Rugby League
Max Whitlock – Gymnastics