Gabby Logan will join Gary Lineker and Clare Balding this Sunday to present Sports Personality of the Year 2017 live from Liverpool.
Ahead of the big BBC bash, Gabby shares her favourite moments from the past year of sport…
Mo Farah winning his toughest race, Lewis Hamilton turning it on again, the British Lions taking the All Blacks to the brink… there have been so many highlights in my sporting year. But what was my biggest surprise of 2017? Finding myself sat next to my daughter Lois on the sofa, both of us utterly engrossed in a boxing match!
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I’m not a boxing fan and my daughter, who was 11 at the time, had never even seen a fight, but Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title showdown against Wladimir Klitschko was thrilling. Lois loved it and we both ended up screaming at the TV as the momentum swung one way then the other, until Joshua stunned us all with that 11th-round stoppage. It’s a Wembley evening that’ll live long in both our memories, not least because it was the night a Brit became a world champion and a global star. A charming, thoughtful and charismatic one, at that.
But my standout moment of the year came on the other side of London, when Mo Farah won the final global gold of his career in the 10,000m at the World Athletics Championships in August. That night the Olympic Park came alive, evoking the spirit of London 2012.
It was also probably the hardest-fought victory in his career, with Mo triumphing despite almost falling twice during the race. His silver in the 5,000m was heroic too. With the number of golds he’s already won in his career, not many athletes would have fought for a silver like that, but to watch him battling for second place in the final 200 metres was to give you the true measure of the man.
Mo Farah doesn’t give up, even when he knows gold has gone.
How to vote for Sports Personality of the Year 2017
You can vote on the shortlist by phone or online — go to bbc.co.uk/sport/sports-personality for full details. The telephone number to call for each contender will be revealed during the live show. To vote online you will need a BBC account — register at bbc.com/register
These were the Championships that kept on giving – every day seemed to bring another story. We saw the end of an era in Usain Bolt’s defeat in the 100m. But even then, Usain was elevated to new heights, openly embracing the man who’d just beaten him, former drug cheat Justin Gatlin. Because Usain understood that despite Gatlin being the pantomime villain, he’d worked incredibly hard to get back into a winning position. Such respect is the mark of a true champion.
When, just days later, Usain Bolt collapsed, injured, in his last ever race, the 4x100m relay, it felt like the story of the night. But we started writing the headlines too soon, because the story moved on – as it always does – when Britain’s men grabbed a scintillating gold medal in the same race. I’ll never forget the women from Britain’s 4x100m relay team, who’d just won silver themselves, urging the boys on and then spilling onto the track to join the celebrations.
It was a joy to watch Britain’s women doing so well in 2017, from England’s victory in the Women’s Cricket World Cup, Bianca Walkden’s gold at the World Taekwondo Championships, to tennis player Johanna Konta growing into a global power, winning the Miami Open and reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals.
On the football pitch, nothing tops England’s Under-17 and Under-20 teams winning their respective World Cups. I was particularly enthralled by the way the Under-17s won; how refreshing to see a progressive England football team playing brilliant attacking football. Even when they went 2–0 down to Spain in the final they showed immense composure for such young lads, to keep their heads and simply not accept defeat – they eventually won 5–2.
Lewis Hamilton winning his fourth Formula 1 world title and proving himself to be one of the all-time greats was another highlight. I love the fact that he’s a bit showbiz. The idea that all sportsmen are going to fit one identikit personality is nonsense. Showmen who really excel at their sport, like Lewis, are rare creatures. We may not always love them, but we should cherish and enjoy them.
In a year of thrilling highs, the only slight disappointment for me was the way the epic British and Irish Lions series in New Zealand ended in a draw. The rugby itself was gripping but at the end of the final match – tied 15 points apiece – with the series level at 1–1, it felt like neither side, nor the crowd, knew what to do. Can we really let that happen again? A draw can be a magnificent result but that was a terrible way to end a series. You’ve got to settle it on the pitch – if it happens again, let’s have extra time and, if it’s still stalemate, then a drop goal shoot-out to determine a winner.
Because the best sport nearly always produces a winner. Which of our 12 contenders for this year’s Sports Personality of the Year will you choose? I know there will be fierce debate about the absence of anyone from that Lions team or, for that matter, cricketer Jimmy Anderson, who claimed his 500th Test wicket this year. Should they be on the list?
Some might say they missed out because their sports are shown on Sky or BT Sport, and therefore watched by a smaller audience. But when the panel chooses the nominees, it’s all about the merits of the people on the list, not the popularity of their sport or who broadcast it. The Lions were heroes and Jimmy Anderson has had an incredible career, but this year’s shortlist is so strong it boasts nine reigning British world champions.
How can you argue with that? In a compelling year of sport, that’s got to be worth celebrating. As told to Graham Wray
Sports Personality of the Year is on Sunday 17th December at 6.45pm on BBC1