Who will win Sports Personality of the Year?
A long time before I enjoyed the privilege of actually working on the programme, Sports Personality of the Year was always my favourite television show.
Growing up as a sports-mad youngster, it was the one opportunity to guarantee seeing all your sporting heroes appearing at the same time and in the same place together. It was also one of the few television programmes I would sit down and watch with the rest of my family, including my grandparents.
It signalled the start of Christmas for the Doran family. We would enjoy looking back at the great sporting moments of the year and we'd always have some great debates on who we thought should be the overall winner of the prestigious award.
The family would always be divided on who it should be except, I remember, when Ian Botham won in 1981. It was the only year I think we all agreed unanimously that he should pick up the prize after his heroics in the famous Ashes series against Australia. As an Everton fan, I recall one year rooting for Gary Lineker to win, only to see him just miss out. He's now one of the show's distinguished presenters, of course.
For most of the Olympics in Beijing I was lucky enough to be on holiday with my own young family in Wales. We were also joined by my wife's parents and we were all glued to the television coverage on a daily basis as a family. My children and their grandparents changed their minds on who they thought might win Sports Personality of the Year - day after day, gold medal after gold medal, amazing story after amazing story.
The Olympics were absolutely extraordinary. Then again, the 2008 sporting year has been extraordinary. I can't remember anything like it in my lifetime.
We were enthralled by Wimbledon, and in particular the men's final between Federer and Nadal. Once again we watched it as a family. Apart from a quick loo break and a kettle call in-between sets and rain breaks, no one moved from the TV for nearly five hours. My little boy, five-year-old Reece, is mad on football and was absolutely thrilled by the skills on display during Euro 2008. He also watched golf on TV for the first time in his life - the thrilling last day of the Open as Harrington clinched the title again.
There were other great sporting highlights too - Barnsley beating Chelsea and Liverpool in the FA Cup, Rangers getting to the Uefa Cup final, Celtic pipping them to the title on the last day of the season, the dramatic Champions League final penalty shoot out, Wales winning rugby union's Grand Slam. The drama, unpredictability and excitement are never-ending and we still have the Paralympics and the Ryder Cup over the next few weeks!
That brings me back to Sports Personality of the Year again. It's the one place you'll be able to look back at this extraordinary year of sport. In Liverpool, on December 14th, we'll assemble all the stars who have made this such a memorable year, for one of the greatest gatherings of sporting talent ever seen.
And that brings me to who might win the big awards on the night itself.
Let's start with the big one - Sports Personality of the Year. Have there ever been so many strong contenders? It's astonishing to think that many Olympic gold medal winners might not even make the top 10 shortlist because the 2008 bar has been set so high.
My colleague Frank Keogh has been having some fun looking at some of the leading contenders to date - the Olympians dominate the list as you might expect.
Behind all the likely contenders lies a great story. Who could forget Nicole Cooke kicking off the great gold rush in terrible weather conditions; Becky Adlington's double gold, something no other British swimmer has ever achieved; Chris Hoy's three golds at the same Games in three different events; Ben Ainslie's remarkable run continuing with his third Olympic gold in sailing; Rebecca Romero adding gold in cycling to the silver she won in rowing at the last Olympics; Victoria Pendleton adding Olympic gold to her impressive tally of major championship victories; Christine Ohuruogu overturning her Olympic ban to win gold on the track; Bradley Wiggins equalling Sir Steve Redgrave's record British Olympic medal haul.
Some of the young stars also deserve special mention, like Tom Daley reaching an Olympic final at the age of 14, and Louis Smith, 19, winning Britain's first medal in men's gymnastics for a century.
The winner might not be an Olympian. Lewis Hamilton is still leading in the race to win the Formula One world title, while Mark Cavendish shouldn't be ruled out from the shortlist after his amazing performances in the Tour De France. Last year's winner, boxer Joe Calzaghe, still has a major fight to come.
Frank goes into far more detail, but I can't remember a stronger field of contenders at this stage of the year. Don't forget though that the winner will only be decided by you, the public, via a live vote on the night during the show. The top 10 will be announced in the lead-up to the show from nominations provided by a panel of over 40 leading sporting experts from a selection of newspaper sports editors and magazines.
Equally as fascinating is the race for the prestigious Overseas Award. Has there ever been a stronger line up in the history of Sports Personality of the Year?
Phelps' record of eight golds in eight days would normally be a certainty for the prize in a 'normal' sporting year. Not in 2008. For starters he's up against Rafa Nadal, the new world number one and now the darling of Wimbledon;
Then there's Ireland's Padraig Harrington, the first European to win back-to-back majors.
And if that's not enough, there's the one and only Usain Bolt, the man who wowed the world with his sprinting in Beijing.
Michael Johnson described his performances as the most impressive he had ever seen in athletics. I'm sure you'll agree that they are four outstanding candidates and you may want to suggest even more names.
We haven't even come on to the Team of the Year Award yet, with our Olympic teams up against strong competition from Manchester United and Wales' Grand Slam winners to name just two of the other likely contenders.
The race for this year's biggest awards promise to be the most exciting, unpredictable and closest ever seen in the distinguished 55-year history of the programme.
And we've still got plenty more drama to come before the big day in December!
( Sports Personality of the Year live on BBC1 and Radio Five Live at 7pm on December 14th)