Saturday, September 22, 2012

Contenders for BBC Sports Personality of the Year

I know all sports people don't consider this the ultimate prize of their career or even this year. But I do like a list with the analysis which goes into the thought process.

This list has been updated from the previous list to acknowledge the accomplishments of Team GB Paralympic team plus other recent victories. It was difficult to whittle the list down to ten nominees, with so many British men and women performing spectacularly this year.

Again the order is in how I would place them.

1. Andy Murray (tennis)

  • First British men's singles champion in a Grand Slam for 76 years by winning the 2012 US Open
  • First British men’s singles finalist at Wimbledon for 74 years
  • Olympic men’s singles gold medallist
  • Olympic mixed doubles silver medallist
  • Men's world No.3 (at time of writing)
Giving Andy Murray the slight edge is four major accomplishments (US Open winner, Wimbledon finalist, Olympic gold and silver medallist). He also still has the change to win the ATP World Tours Finals in London in November and finish the year as number one, although the latter is less likely.

Probably going against him would be that he's Scottish. I'm not being racist, is just most of the voters in Sports Personality of the Year will be English. Also his portrayed dour personality is something against him, which is contrary to actual fact. Watch the episode of Andy Murray appearing on Mock the Week just after he lost at Wimbledon and you'll see his real personality.

2. Bradley Wiggins (cycling)
  • First British winner of the Tour de France
  • Olympic time trial gold medallist
  • Joint most decorated British Olympian
Although Britain has more than its fair share of sporting heroes this year, Wiggins stands above the rest with his Tour de France win. Achieving something no other Brit has done pushes Wiggo up the rank. Winning both the Tour de France and an Olympic gold medal, something the great Miguel Indurain didn't even do, pushes him up even further. His mod style helps Wiggins to have an unique  personality. Yet his achievements might be forgotten in December, especially if other people do other amazing things.

3. Sarah Storey (cycling)
  • Paralympic women's individual pursuit C5 gold medallist
  • Paralympic women's 500 m time trial C4-5gold medallist
  • Paralympic women's time trial C5 gold medallist
  • Paralympic women's road race C4-5 gold medallist
  • Most decorated British Paralympian in terms of number of medals
  • Joint second most decorated British Paralympian in terms of number of gold medals
It will be a tragedy if only a few women or Paralympians get nominated. Sarah Storey fulfils both criteria, not that I or anyone should be counting. Her list of achievements justify her inclusion, winning four gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympics. Not only can she dominate the field in Paralympic cycling in both track and road events, she has proven she can compete with able-bodied cyclists by winning the British national championship in the 3 km pursuit. To make her achievements even more remarkable, she only switched to cycling after being a decorate Paralympic swimmer.

4. David Weir (athletics)
  • Paralympic men's 800 m T54 gold medallist
  • Paralympic men's 1500 m T54 gold medallist
  • Paralympic men's 5000 m T54 gold medallist
  • Paralympic men's marathon T54 gold medallist
To establish yourself as a champion in one event is difficulty. To make yourself a champion in four events with a vast range of distances is almost impossible. Not that this would stop "The Weirwolf". He's been acclaimed as the best wheelchair athlete and quite rightly so.

5. Jessica Ennis (athletics)
  • Olympic heptathlon champion
Jessica Ennis had completely dominated the London 2012 heptathlon, she could have cruised the final event - the 800 metres - and still would have won comfortably. But she gave the stadium crowd what they wanted, winning by 300 points and setting a new British record. She is so good, she even broke the British record in the 110 metres hurdles and the high jump, despite being a heptathlete.

6. Mo Farah (athletics)
  • Olympic 5000m and 10000m champion
  • European 5000m champion
Mo Farah became only the 7th athlete to win 5000 metres and 10000 metres at the same Olympics, joining the likes of Zatopek and Viren in history. His back story of escaping Somalia and arriving in Britain without being able to speak a word of English helps portrays his rags to riches story as a fairytale dream with an ideal ending. Plus his "Mobot" stance has been copied by many others, including Usain Bolt.

7. Eleanor Simmonds (swimming)
  • Paralympic women's 400 m freestyle S6 gold medallist 
  • Paralympic women's 200 m individual medley SM6 gold medallist
  • Paralympic women's 100 m freestyle S6 silver medallist
  • Paralympic women's 50 m freestyle S6 bronze medallist
Ellie Simmonds may not have won as many gold medals as other Olympians or Paralympians. But she is a repeat winner, having performed at the same level four years earlier in Beijing. Plus she has an adorable demeanour about her, despite being a young age of 17 years old.

8. Rory McIlroy (golf)
  • Won his 2nd major, the US PGA by a record eight strokes
  • At the time of writing, World No. 1, European No. 1, PGA Tour No. 1
By winning his 2nd major with the US PGA, McIlroy became the 6th youngest multiple major winner and the youngest since the great Seve Ballesteros. And he's only 23 years old. It will be difficult for the Northern Ireland golfer to make himself prominent in an Olympic/Paralympic dominant field. He can still achieve more in the remainder of the year, by finishing the year as No. 1 in three different tours and helping the European Ryder Cup team to a win in USA. Let's hope he'll bring Carolina Wozniacki to the awards.

9. Ben Ainslie (sailing)
  • Olympic Finn sailing champion
  • World Finn sailing champion
Ben Ainslie became the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, winning his fourth consecutive gold medal and fifth consecutive medal. This nomination is more for his lifetime achievement rather than this year's Olympic victory, which was his hardest.

10. Lee Pearson (equestrian)
  • Paralympic mixed team championship gold medallist
  • Paralympic individual championship test grade Ib silver medallist
  • Paralympic freestyle dressage bronze medallist
Another athlete who's lifetime achievement should give him a more focussed spotlight. Although he didn't pass Tanni Grey-Thompson in the number of Paralympic gold medals, he has tied with Grey-Thompson, Sarah Storey and David Roberts in second in number of Paralympic gold medals.

Honourable mentions

Sophie Christiansen (equestrian)
Natasha Baker (equestrian)
Charlotte Dujardin (equestian)
Sir Chris Hoy (cycling)
Laura Trott (cycling)
Jason Kenny (cycling)
Hannah Cockcroft (athletics)

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