The biggest sports award in the UK is taking place on 20th December in Belfast: the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY). This is its 61st year running, and the shortlist is as diverse as usual, including some old as well as new faces.
The winner is decided by the public, but they vote from a shortlist decided by an eclectic group of expert panellists. To make the cut, an athlete must show two main qualities:
- they have some kind of UK sporting achievement on a national or international stage under their belt;
- have had a noticeable impact on their sport and beyond.
All athletes in the 12 selected can, of course, demonstrate these elements. But interestingly, in 2015, plenty of spanners have been thrown in the works late on, and a number of earlier predictions have been scrapped after recent events.
Lewis Hamilton Lagging Behind
Lewis Hamilton is the current holder and in 2015 repeated his achievement from the year before, winning the F1 Championship with 3 races to spare.
Formula 1 has always featured prominently in the awards’ history, with Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill both having won twice. But Lewis has had somewhat of a disappointing end to the season, losing the last 4 Grand Prix to ‘teammate’ Nico Rosberg. With recent events, will Hamilton’s previous successes be outshone this year? The bookmakers have put his chance of winning the award back to back at 10/1.
Andy Murray on the rise
Andy Murray is now the odds on favourite (5/2), with many bookmakers tipping him to win after his success with the Great Britain team in the Davis Cup – a competition the nation has failed to win in the last 79 years. He is also looking to equal Hill and Mansell’s record, having won the award in 2013 for when he won Wimbledon after 77 years (another long-awaited triumph).
Murray has matched his previous achievement and admitted that the Davis Cup win was the most emotional of his career. It is difficult to look past Murray to win. Not only are his sporting achievements next to none, but his personal life has endeared him to the nation’s hearts after he married long-term girlfriend Kim Sears in April.
The Gypsy King
Tyson Fury’s big win against Wladamir Klitschko has made the self-proclaimed “Gypsy King” a late, but likely, contender. His big night in Dusseldorf was a surprise, but the man from Manchester managed a unanimous decision against a man some previously viewed as unbeatable.
His charismatic and egotistic pre-fight antics make him a ‘marmite’ figure, with some hating and some loving the boxer. His chances might be hampered by what some view as his extreme religious convictions: even the new Heavyweight Champion of the world himself has predicted his (lack of) chances of winning SPOTY as none, but is this just more pre-event antics? His odds stand at 5/1.
The Forgotten Athletes
Looking at predictions from a month ago, Jessica Ennis-Hill was the person to beat for the SPOTY. The heptathlete from Sheffield not only gave birth to her first child this year, but returned to the World Championship after giving Team GB only one month’s notice. She not only competed, but won gold – an incredible achievement for the popular athlete. Her odds of winning stand at 6/4.
Athletes have always been a popular choice in SPOTY, with 48 placings and 17 victories. The one thing she has against her is that fans tend to look more favourably on athletes during Olympic years, and a World Championship will not be as impressive to the untrained voter’s eye.
Fellow athlete Mo Farah has had an incredible Athletics World Championship too, becoming the first athlete to obtain a triple double. He won the 5,000 and 10,000 at three successive international meets: the Olympics and two World Championships. The 2015 World Championships in Beijing saw commentator Brendan Foster claim the runner was the ‘Britain’s greatest sportsman”. This is a strong claim that will surely be debated, but with shadow of the Salazar doping scandal over Mo Farah this year too it means bookies have put him in as a longshot at 33/1.
Other Shortlisted Athletes: Lizzie Armstead 100/1, Lucy Bronze 100/1, Chris Froome 20/1, Adam Peaty 80/1, Greg Rutherford 80/1, Max Whitlock 100/1, Kevin Sinfeld 100/1.
Joshua Mason – Sports Team