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Who will win Sports Personality of the Year?

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Carl Doran | 19:32 UK time, Wednesday, 27 August 2008

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.

Chris Hoy and Rebecca Adlington

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.

Usain Bolt

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)

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Forgive me but isn't now down to a BBC drawn shortlist and a quick, intensive vote on the night? There were plenty of compelling candidates in 2006 but the award went to Zara Phillips. Enough said.

  • Comment number 2.

    Who chooses the team of the year and the overseas personality?


    Can you clarify what we are voting for? Some people think its their 'personality' we are looking at, while others think that it is who is the best. For example, on 'personality' Tom Daley would probably win but other sportsmen are a better standard than him.


    Why can't you have more than 10 on the shortlist? Have 20. That way the public can decide who should win rather than a bunch of journalists. I'd hate for somebody that would have come in the first three in a public vote not get shortlisted because he wasn't a favourite with Gary Lineker or Steve Bunce. Having 20 to vote for isn't going to be that difficult to work. Don't think the public are so thick that they can't take in 20 phone numbers on a list.

  • Comment number 3.

    Are Robinsons still sponsoring the event?
    Or did the BBC Trust banned sponsorship?
    Also lets have a better review of the sporting year this time rather then the useless awful poorly editied 'review' we have had for the past few years, with ALL SPORTS mentioned?
    Surely the BBC can ship in with a few quid for the F1 highlights and other sports they havent been able to cover?
    and can we vote on ALL awards, I feel a bit annoyed that we only get to vote in one when we should vote in all awards apart from the Helen R award, also add a few more awards.
    Also can we stop the nonsence from last year?
    We had the phone numbers come up every 5 minutes, please dont do it, it was annoying, we only need a reminder of the numbers every so often not 5 minutes.
    Also I am sure, you wont sell out the Liverpool Echo Arena as well, it should have stayed in Birmingham but this being the BBC, they didnt.
    I hope Rebecca Adlington wins it :) She deserves it :)

  • Comment number 4.

    I can't wait for the show.the anticipation at the end of every year is emense in my house.

    I think Hoy or Ainslie chould win it this year.although Adlington and Hamilton are in with a good shout!

  • Comment number 5.

    "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. "

    It can't have been that long as the programme 'Sports Personality of the Year' is a fairly recent invention, having sadly replaced 'Sports Review of the Year' (which really was a good show) and removed as much sporting content as possible.

  • Comment number 6.

    Only two possiblities for me.

    Chris Hoy - With apologies to the other medalists he got more than them. Ainslie should get it for his career golds when he decides to retire.

    Lewis Hamilton - The only possible contender if he wins the World Championship convincingly.

    Most would say Hoy, so would I, but Hamiton is a realistic option as well.

    Team - GB Cycling - No Contest

    Overseas - Christiano Ronaldo - I know a lot would say Bolt, but to me it should go to a foreigner in british sport.

  • Comment number 7.

    Sports Personality of the Year is cheap and nasty television straight out of the ITV reject pile.

    The winners generally seem deviod of any personality at all and the individuals that vote for it appear to be witless idiots led by whichever god awful tabloid they read.

  • Comment number 8.

    British Cycling no contest? sorry? does a League and European Cup double mean nothing to you people?

    Cavendish for at least a spot on the podium. The greatest performance of any British cyclist ever at a single tour de france ever, that surely can't go unnoticed. You ought to dedicate at least 5 minutes of your show to this piece of history.

    Also, how can you do justice to such a packed year of sport in just 2 hours? Too much has happened to condense everything into 120 minutes. 3 hours would be ideal, but lo! we can't miss the gazilionth edition of Last of the Summer Wine.

  • Comment number 9.

    Sports Personality Winner - Ben Ainslie.

    Team of the Year - GB Cycling.

    Overseas - Raffa Nadal.

    Coach - Dave Brailsford / Alex Ferguson.

    Ref #6 - "Overseas winner should go to a foreigner in British Sport?"

    Why?

    Who else would qualify other than footballers and a smattering of cricketers?

    I've never heard such tosh!

  • Comment number 10.

    If I was Nicole Cooke I wouldn't go after the disgraceful way she was treated before...

    'How often do you fall off your bike'

    Not a surprise though from Adrian Chiles who continually ruined the Olympics coverage e.g. to Shirley Robertson about the pre-start period of a sailing race, 'I still don't get it' well Adrian perhaps you shouldn't be anchoring the BBC's coverage of the sport!

    If you are going to interview people from/about 'minority' sports either get experts to do it or at least get the presenter to do it a bit of research.

    Also lets have a show where we don't have the question 'what did it feel like' asked a million different ways. We had enough of these inane questions during the Games themselves do you really think an Olympic medalist would say...'You know what it's totally overrated would rather be at home watching Eastenders!'

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    I used to love watching the programme when it actually showed sport.For many years it has concentrated on embarassing interviews interspersed with "arty" clips of sport. Why can't the clips of sport be the originals - no adding music, no soft focusing, no frames around the pictures , no showing the sport from strange angles

  • Comment number 13.

    This programme long ago stopped being about 'personality' and became a drawn-out ego fest for both presenters and guests backed by an increasingly bizarre obsession with quirky links and rubbish compilations to make up for the fact the BBC does not have the rights to the most popular sports.
    And as for the comment 'who can forget Nicole Cooke' (Britain's first gold medal winner in Beijing), I think the answer is - most of us.

  • Comment number 14.

    I feel sorry for the Doran family, stuck in front of a telly night and day, even on holiday, God forbid. Get em out in the fresh air and some real family life. Have they been introduced to the countryside yet?

  • Comment number 15.

    What no tennis players? Surely with all of the priority coverage given by BBC Radio and TV to tennis (when it is only a minority sport in the UK) then a tennis player should be high on the list. This morning was another example - it was the lead item on the sports news even though the vast majority of the UK was more interested in the European football draw and one day cricket international. And I suppose we will still continue to get future tennis coverage about some obscure ATP(?) tournament in some far off land involving east europeans stars with instantly forgettable names.

    Maybe, maybe BBC radio and TV should now provide balanced reporting including ongoing news about our other 'minority', yet now very successful, sports such as cycling, sailing, rowing, swimming, etc., etc. and then maybe, maybe those athletes will have the opportunity of providing us with sports personality of the year in future years instead of this year only (which they wholeheartedy deserve).

    I find the attitude of the BBC to tennis coveraqe bizarre.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    British Cycling no contest? sorry? does a League and European Cup double mean nothing to you people?

    ---------------

    Mean nothing ? No it means a lot, but not as much as winning nearly every gold available to them in an olympics.

    =============

    Ref #6 - "Overseas winner should go to a foreigner in British Sport?"

    Why?

    Who else would qualify other than footballers and a smattering of cricketers?

    ----------------

    Sorry but are we not talking about a BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation award here ?

    Footballer, Rugby Players, Cricketers (including touring teams), at least half F1 drivers (teams are british), tennis players (wimbledon), jockeys, golfers, snooker players.

    Is that a big enough pool of people for you?

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    It's puzzling how many in this blog enjoy a mean spirited moan. Zara Phillips was a champion in her sport that year. Are we supposed to go back to the days of cutting coupons out of the Radio Times? The programme has since I started watching it in the 60s always been a blend of sport and entertainment-sometimes it works better than others. To suggest there is somehow less sport now is an ill-informed misrepresentation. Oh and for some time now the programme has acquired non BBC clips. It didn't used to, but the position changed some years ago. And why on earth shouldn't the programme go to Liverpool?!

    I'd go for Chris Hoy personally, but the year isn't over yet.

  • Comment number 22.

    As mentioned by #13, I do wonder how much personality is a factor in the voting of 'Sports Personality of the Year'?

    We have many Olympians who have exceeded not only their personal expectations, but their sports expectations and this countries expectations. But how many have personality?

    Ben Ainslie, Chris Hoy and Rebecca Adlington (to mention just a few) have taken what they've achieved and been humble when talking to the press. They are proud of what they and their colleagues have done for their country.

    How many recent winners of the award could speak to the media so openly?

    If asked what I was doing I said 'A week off and then training for 2012'......

  • Comment number 23.

    It's tough. I feel for Ben Ainslie - he's going to suffer as his outstanding achievement across a number of Olympic Games has been overshadowed by someone (x2) who has performed well at one Olympic Games (Hoy and Addlington). It's much like what happened to Pinsent in 2004 with Holmes overshadowing him.

    I think Hoy and Addlington will fight it out, with Hamilton joining the party if he wins the World Championship.

    Team is between GB Cycling, Man United and Euro Ryder Cup if they win.

    Overseas Personality is up for grabs - if US Ryder Cup team win, I would guess the US Capt should be in with a chance.

    It should be noted that the good people of the capital (including myself) aren't able to attend the event, as once again the BBC has taken the SPOTY ceremony out of London for the "general public". Just because it was held in TV Centre/QEII Centre for years doesn't mean the public could attend. If you guys really want all of the UK public to have the chance to attend, bringing it to the capital won't hurt.

  • Comment number 24.

    jcb336 - Yes Zara Phillips was the champion that year but there were more deserving people who won something at the time.
    Darren Clakre won the Ryder Cup with Europe and still played despite the death of his wife.
    Beth Tweddle won Gold in the World Champs in one of the hardest events in gymanstics.
    Also Equestrian is for people who can afford it, which most of the country cant do, so thats why people moan about it!

  • Comment number 25.

    I think Wiggins should win, but to be honest we all know it's between Adlington and Hoy. I reckon Hoy, then Adlington and either Wiggins or Murray 3rd.

  • Comment number 26.

    I've got to say I'm not to familiar with the actual rules surrounding who can be awarded the bbc sports personality award but surely if he can be then Padraig Harrington would be a good shout! Two opens on the trot followed up by another major a few weeks back, now that is true consistency and seeing as it is an award for the year and not for the 'olympic fortnight' the man from the emerald isle is the only one for me.

  • Comment number 27.

    It's tough. I feel for Ben Ainslie - he's going to suffer as his outstanding achievement across a number of Olympic Games has been overshadowed by someone (x2) who has performed well at one Olympic Games (Hoy and Addlington). It's much like what happened to Pinsent in 2004 with Holmes overshadowing him.


    -----------

    Thats the weakness of a sports 'year' show. same problem with boxers, they only fight twice a year so will hardly ever be in contention.

    I would like to see another award added for continued excellence, given to someone who has acieved success over a number of years but perhaps never a big enough one off event (in the publics eyes) for the annual award. Recent winners would have included Phil Taylor, Joe Calzaghe, Andy Priaulx, Stephen Hendry, Ben Ainslie and Paula Radcliffe.

  • Comment number 28.

    "It should be noted that the good people of the capital (including myself) aren't able to attend the event, as once again the BBC has taken the SPOTY ceremony out of London for the "general public". Just because it was held in TV Centre/QEII Centre for years doesn't mean the public could attend. If you guys really want all of the UK public to have the chance to attend, bringing it to the capital won't hurt."

    Without getting too far off the point of the thread that comment is beyond belief!! What a typically arrogant Londoner's comment. You do realise don't you that the vast majority of the population live outside the capital don't you?? Rotating the venue around the country allows some of the 52,000,000 people who live outside the capital the opportunity (for-once) to attend a major national event in their own back-yard. Well done to the BBC for recognising that the population of the UK consists of more than 8,000,000 people who live inside the M25.

    There are hundreds of big events (sporting or otherwise) that take place in London every year that the rest of the population travel long distances down to the South East to attend - without complaint. But one event happens to do a tour the provinces (much to the delight of the majority of the population) and those who live in the capital start whinging! Its really quite pathetic.

    By the way just because it is in Liverpool doesn't mean it is restricted to those who live in the North West of England - you can get up off your rear end and travel outside of London don't you know!

    Back on topic though any one of the GB gold medallists would be a deserved winner in my opinion - or Andy Murray if he wins the US Open.

  • Comment number 29.

    Paudrig Harrington's Irish so no, he doesn't qualify.

    And Chris Hoy hasn't just performed at one olympics, he won a Gold in the 1k in Athens, an event that was cancelled for 2008, and then proceeded to win 3 Golds in different events in Beijing.

    Cycling for team of the year.

    Nadal for overseas (especially as he's had to rise above Federer who we all until this year thought was untouchable)

  • Comment number 30.

    Hackerjack at #18.

    I don't understand your point. Of course it's a 'British Broadcasting Corporation' award - but the clue is in the category title - it is the 'overseas' award, suggesting that the winner should perhaps come from OVERSEAS - somewhere else - not of these Isles - a foreigner - a 'non-Brit' ! If you are saying that the overseas winner should be a sports participant who has primarily been broadcast plying their trade on the BBC then we can forget about all of your listed sports apart from tennis and 'some' rugby (with football highlights).

    Your point is completely emptyheaded - articulate yourself properly so we can assess it's voracity. In the meantime, in response to the question 'Is that a big enough pool of people for you'......answer is no! If I want to vote for Tiger Woods who hasn't appeared in Britain this year - then I will. why? He is from over the sea - the only criteria he needs to fill!

 

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