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A top Top 10

Robbo Robson | 12:36 UK time, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Now I can't be seen to be touting for any one of the 10 contenders for this year's Sports Personality of the Year, but I do wish we could start calling it Sports Person of the Year; it seems a lot to ask of a blinkered, single-minded sports professional to be possessed of a personality as well. (Giggsy's 36 and he's just starting to develop one.)

If it was a true Sports Personality of the Year then it'd be the same contestants every December: Tuffers v Jimmy White. I'd like that, actually.

Successful sportspeople tend to be the ones who can cut out all the noise and just focus on the task in hand. Great goalscorers tend to be labelled 'cold-eyed' as if they're some sort of Terminator replicant from the future.

But to be honest, I'm none too fussed at watching a successful introvert. For example, if you were a fan of Bjorn Borg I'd say you were a bit weird. The man engaged the crowd with all the spontaneity and joy of a saucepan.
Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe after the 1981 Wimbledon finalBjorn Borg and John McEnroe after the 1981 Wimbledon final
If it wasn't for Nastase, McEnroe and Connors we'd have happily turned the TV off and found something else to do with our strawberries and cream. OK they were mouthy little toy-tossing tantrum-throwers but rather that than a bloke whose headband was so taut his very eyeballs were touching.

Of course, Borg packed it in at 26. There's only so much emotionlessness you can manage until your head explodes. And a career selling men's pants beckoned.
If you compare Henman (bland, likeable, a lad who still chips in with Mater when she's baking a Victoria Sponge) to Murray (fierce, focused, and quite likely to let go of an expletive or two) then I know who I'd rather be in the crowd watching.

Paragons of sporting virtue tend to struggle to live up to the ideal. Dare I say it, the reason the recent speculation around that Tiger bloke is quite so merciless and grubby is simply because Woods has thrived on the back of this image of perfection.

The new revelations might not get him sponsorship off Gatorade (and until this morning I thought that was a charity for protecting alligators) but I doubt it's going to stop us from regarding him as the greatest golfer the world's ever seen either.

It's a shock, though. I mean, what next? Roger Federer in choc-chip-cookie binge scandal? Pele admits to possession of Weakest Link box-set?

Of course, for the last few years we've got used to the fact that the only thing in sport that doesn't get spun one way or the other is an over-the-wicket delivery by Ashley Giles. You only have to look at X Factor to realise that there are a lot of folk getting paid simply to spin a good yarn. (Barking Goes Mad As The Strangely Snuffling Stacey Goes Home!!!). You could hitch a good singing career on the back of a very poorly Granny these days.

Sport's no different. I'm a sucker for triumphing against the odds. (The Beckham free-kick against Greece four years after Simeonegate; Darren Clarke's Ryder Cup triumph after he'd lost his lovely missus; the fact that Lance Armstrong got on a bike again at all... man size Kleenex at the ready, lads!)

I watched that brilliant programme on depression in sport the other day and frankly I'd give the gong for heroism in sport to John Kirwan right now. I was struck too by Kelly Holmes, whose Olympic gold medals were achieved despite suffering from depression as she struggled to get over injuries.

When you look at the list of candidates for SPOTY '09 you can see their stories writ large:

Why vote for Jenson Button? Well he went from playboy pretender to World Champion after an 11th-hour reprieve saw him hired by Brawn GP.

Why vote for Mark Cavendish? The Isle of Man Express is so fast you'd have more chance of putting a tail on a Manx Cat.

Why vote for Tom Daley? He's only 15, he's won gold, he seems a right nice lad and following Cristiano Ronaldo's departure to Milan is now officially the best diver in the country.

Why vote for Jessica Ennis? She came back from Olympic heartache to capture World Championship gold - and in the process she captured our hearts too. Sigh!
Chris Hoy after winning Sports PersonalityWho will follow in Chris Hoy's shoes at SPOTY?
Why vote for Ryan Giggs? He plays for Man United but if you put that to one side he's that rarest of things: a quite old footballer who's still really good and is never found taking a swing at night-spot snappers at 2am.

Why vote for David Haye? Against the odds the mouthy Londoner walked through the shadow of the Valuev of Death and triumphed, beating the biggest person ever in the world ever.

Why vote for Phillips Idowu? The man has strived against bad hair choices, being named after a music system, and the insinuation that he bottles it on the big occasion. And now he's champion of the world.

Why vote for Andy Murray? Because as a successful Scot, he is Britain at its best!
Why vote for Andrew Strauss? Straussy, as he will always be known, turned base metal into gold when he turned lambs into lionhearts following the KP-Moores farrago. He led from the front and regained for the nation the silliest trophy in the world of sport.

Why vote for Beth Tweddle? She's won two golds now in a sport which we are rubbish at - and since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure to Madrid she's the best tumbler in the country.

I do like SPOTY. I wanted Hoy to get it last year and he did. If the great British public do the right thing this year I'll be delighted.

But I'm not saying who I'm voting for. You'll never get her name out of me. Or his.


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