So on Sunday it is the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 from Belfast. A wide range of the great and the good of British Sport. Three athletes, two cyclists, World Champions in boxing, gymnastics, motor racing and swimming among the nominations. It shows that despite the year not having a major multi-sport event, GB and NI have had an outstanding year. The normal list of 10 was extended because of the events of last weekend before the release of nominations. Andy Murray, having anchored the winning Davis Cup team and Tyson Fury, upsetting Vladimir Klitschko to become World Heavyweight Champion, being added before the shortlist announcement. While I understand their late inclusion, I don’t think either should be victorious.
Andy Murray, despite winning eight tournaments and finishing the season of a career high of Second, he did not meet his usual performance in Grand Slams. Though becoming only the 3rd person (after John McEnroe and Mats Wilander) to win all their singles matches in the Davis Cup in a year is up there. While Fury’s victory was fantastic and thoroughly deserved, I feel that James DeGale is more deserving of a nomination, as he became the first Briton to win an Olympic Gold and a professional title. He then defended the IBF Super Middleweight last month.
The three athletes, all have their own merits. Greg Rutherford the first Long Jumper to hold all major medals at one time, Jessica Ennis-Hill, winning gold less that 14 months after giving birth and Mo Farah, who (with the exception of not competing at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow), has been unbeatable at major athletics events in the last 3 year. Of these, I think that Mo Farah deserves to he highest placed due to his consistency and ability. What I fear will happen is that the effect of the controversy about his coach Alberto Salazar.
The cyclists are always a long shot. I know Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins have won it, but three golds in Beijing, an Olympic Gold and the 1st Briton to win Le Tour in the same year gave them the edge. Also with Wiggins, he genuinely has a personality. Chris Froome, who won his 2nd Tour de France, and Lizzie Armitage will split the cycling vote and the lack of all year round coverage will not help either.
We then have the three male World Champions. Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1), Adam Peaty (swimming) and Max Whitlock (Gymnastics). It was a great performance by Hamilton to win his third World Championship, but I always feel that you can never be sure of the quality of performance as drivers have the back up of a large team, and also the quality of the car. This is not to take away from Hamilton’s performance. It would be easier to compare performances if the he had won in the now defunct A1 GP series. Whitlock, became the first British male to win a Gold at the World Gymnastics, beating team mate Louis Smith by 0.01pt. What makes it even more special is that he suffered from glandular fever at the start of the year. And Peaty, became the first swimmer (not just Briton) to win both the 50m and 100m breaststroke at the same championship. I fear that both Whitlock and Peaty will lose out, not because their achievements don’t deserve it, but because of the limited coverage and niche sport they are involved in.
It is also difficult for individuals in non mainstream sports to be successful, which will be the case for Lucy Bronze and Kevin Sinfield. If England had won the FIFA Woman’s World Cup, Bronze would have been in with a shot, but as there are many World Champions nominated, it will be a tough ask. Similarly for Sinfield, he has had a great career and a nomination is richly deserved, especially being a one team man, which secured the domestic treble in 2015. I feel that Leeds Rhinos deserve the team of the year, rather than an individual award for a great player.
I have thought long and hard about who I think deserves to win! I have it down to two. Both multiple World Champions. Either Mo Farah or Adam Peaty. At a push, due to my bias to the sport I have been involved in for most of my life, I am going to opt for Adam Peaty, though I would not be disappointed if Mo Farah or any of the athletes were victorious.