We’ve heard it so many times before, but it’s true – this year we really are spoiled for choice when it comes to picking BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Even picking a shortlist is tough, as RadioTimes.com discovered when we put our own list together below. Olympics glory, Paralympics astonishment, Ryder Cup conquest, US Open triumph, Champions League mastery. How did we suddenly end up with so much sporting success? No wonder the BBC has announced they are increasing the shortlist to 12 this year rather than the usual 10.
We’re not used to this kind of problem. The list of past winners shows that sometimes we’re lucky to have just one standout success to celebrate.
Take 2001 for example, when David Beckham was handed the sparkly television camera. There’s no doubt he’s a fantastic sportsman and deserves to be recognised, but he didn’t win Sports Personality for leading a triumphant England team to World Cup glory. He won because of a free kick he scored that saved the national side from abject embarrassment against Greece in a World Cup qualifier.
Remember Zara Phillips gushing her way through her 2006 acceptance speech, clearly as surprised as anyone that she was suddenly the pinnacle of UK sporting achievement? In recent times only 2008’s battle between Formula One World Championship winner Lewis Hamilton and Beijing Flying Scotsman Chris Hoy comes close to the uncertainty we have this year.
2012 is different. Team GB’s Olympics and Paralympics success means there is bound to be a dash of London 2012 in the eventual shortlist: Mo Farah slapping his head in disbelief; Jessica Ennis smothering herself in the Union Jack; David Weir roaring over the line with his top torn open.
Then there’s Rory Mcllroy, number one golfer in the world and curly-haired scourge of the Americans in their own back yard in this year’s Ryder Cup.
Andy Murray’s US Open and Olympics victory makes him second favourite according to bookmakers Ladbrokes. If only he’d won at Wimbledon when most of the sport watching public were actually awake. Still, his teary-eyed thanks to the crowd after the final hints at another acceptance speech classic if he does take the title.
And then there’s Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France winner, Olympic champion, sideburns aficionado, and the most personable of sporting personalities. He’s still the bookmakers’ favourite, and with cycling’s dirty history laid bare once again with the Lance Armstrong scandal, perhaps it would be fitting to celebrate someone who has reached the summit and stayed clean doing it.
Here’s the RadioTimes.com Sports Personality shortlist – vote for your favourite and berate us if you think there’s anyone we’ve left off…