Saturday, 6 December 2008

It's Sports Personality... Time Again

It has been something of a trend to knock the BBC’s Sports Personality of The Year award, after all like the programme which hosts the award, it is evocative of a bygone era when British sport dominated the world, and the winner of this award really deserved it. The last time the winner was a popular winner was in 2005 when Andrew Flintoff won it. His contribution towards England’s Ashes win was key, scoring crucial runs in the Second and Fourth Tests while taking key wickets throughout the series. Sure Joe Calzhage deserved to win last year, but there was not an outstanding candidate, and Calzhage should have won when Zara Phillips won instead.

This year continues the trend of there not being one outstanding candidate to win the award. Instead there are at least 3 outstanding candidates, with one or two others who would have been a sho-in for the award, were it not for it being an extraordinary Olympic year.

Of the Shortlisted contenders, there are three favourites, and theoretically the winner will be one of the three. Lewis Hamilton became the youngest driver to win the Formula One World Championship. A Hamilton win would continue the line that every British F1 Championship winner has gone on to win this award. However a Hamilton win would be controversial. F1 is not as popular as it was, Hamilton apparently “enjoys” a fractious relationship with his fellow drivers, and his move to Switzerland has not gone down well with a lot of people.

Chris Hoy became the first British athlete to win 3 Olympic gold medals at single games, winning the Kirin, Team Sprint and Sprint events at the Olympic Cycling meeting. Hoy had also won a Cycling gold in Athens in 2004 and silver in Sydney in 2000. On the BBC Sports Editors Blog, there seems an element of antipathy towards Hoy, with a commentator asking where Hoy will be in 4 years. Try the History Books mate. He has also used his new found fame to good effect, campaigning for new funding for the Meadowbank Cycling track (Edinburgh Council were planning to demolish the facility), and for better sporting facilities generally, shooting down the SNP’s claim for a separate Scottish team at the 2012 Olympics. As I said at the time, show us the money.

The only person, I think anyway, who can finish ahead of Hoy is Rebecca Adlington, who won the 400m Freestyle and the 800m at the Olympic Swimming meeting, as well as the 800m Freestyle at the World Championships. Adlington, as well becoming the first female to win a swimming gold since 1960, became the first British female swimmer to win two gold’s at a games. Both wins were memorable for different reasons. Adlington was tipped to win the 800m, but not to smash the record… which she did. The 800m world record was older than Adlington. Her breakthrough came in the 400m, when she won 7/100ths of a second. The American swimmer Katie Hoff was being touted by certain sections of the (American based) media as being the female Michael Phelps. Her loss here had an adverse effect, as she went on to have a terrible meeting. Adlington, on the other hand, went on to charm a nation, and begin plotting for 2012.

In my book, the award will be between these three people, because of the historic context of their achievements. However, with SPOTY being a public vote, anything can happen. Beckham won his award by scoring the goal that only took England to a World Cup finals, and 20 years ago, in another (slightly less successful) Olympic year, the winner of the award was Steve Davis.

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