Monday, November 26, 2012

Sports Personality: a second dozen

I lost interest in the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year when it became less about sport and more about personality (around the time, I imagine, that they changed its title from Sports Review of the Year).

The programme of my childhood involved footage of sportsmen scoring goals and tries, hitting boundaries, volleying tennis balls, jumping over things, rather than celebrating.

It came from the era of Grandstand, when you could sit in front of the TV all afternoon and watch anything from squash to weightlifting and all that mattered were results, not opinions.

I know I'm just a grouch, but I have little interest in footage of people waving bouquets and biting medals. I want clips seen through a wide angle, rather than zoomed up the scorer's nostrils. And above all I do not want "novelty" acts. This is sport, not entertainment. If I want to see someone play the saxophone (sorry, Zac Purchase), I'll go to Ronnie Scott's.

However, the discussions around SPOTY and who should be on the shortlist always make for an entertaining debate.

After last year, when not a single woman was nominated despite there being several female world champions, the drawing up of the shortlist has been taken away from sports editors (especially the one from the Manchester Evening News who nominated the non-British Patrick Vieira and Dimitar Berbatov) and given to an expert panel.

And this is the dozen they have come up with: Nicola Adams (boxing), Ben Ainslie (sailing),Jessica Ennis (athletics), Mo Farah (athletics), Katherine Grainger (rowing), Sir Chris Hoy (cycling), Rory McIIroy (golf), Andy Murray (tennis), Ellie Simmonds (swimming), Sarah Storey (cycling), David Weir (athletics), Bradley Wiggins (cycling).

Not a bad list, is it? Wiggins is the bookies' favourite but you could make a good case for any of them. Eleven are Olympic or Paralympic champions; one is golf's world No 1 and winner of the money list on both sides of the Atlantic; we have Britain's first ever winner of the Tour de France and our first winner of a tennis major for more than 70 years. All would be worthy winners.

And yet in this wonderful year of sport, there are glaring omissions. Here are 12 more athletes who would also be worthy winners of SPOTY.

Laura Trott: Holds the Olympic, world and European titles in the omnium, cycling's version of the decathlon, with six different disciplines. Also won Olympic and world gold in the team pursuit. Not bad for an asthmatic born with a collapsed lung.

Jason Kenny: Displaced Chris Hoy in the Olympic sprint event yet shook off the pressure to win gold. Also won gold in the team sprint.

Ian Poulter: The heartbeat of the Europe Ryder Cup team, arguably an even better sporting event this year than the Olympics. It was Poulter's putting, with five birdies in a row, that started the fightback from 10-4 down and he went on to win his singles too.

Anna Watkins: Katherine Grainger deservedly gets all the attention for getting an Olympic gold after three silvers but her partner in the undefeated double scull deserves half the credit. Watkins is the only person in the Britain squad to beat Grainger in the past ten years of national trials.

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning: Call this one entry, but Britain's women's coxless pair won the country's first Olympic gold in any event and won it in style. A seemingly effortless Olympic record in their heat, followed by a final where they never trailed and led by clear water after barely 90 seconds.

Peter Wilson: Won Britain's first shooting gold for 12 years. Also broke the world record for the double-trap earlier in the year. One of the great undersung achievements.

Alistair Brownlee: Five times a world champion triathlete, Brownlee went into the Olympic event as favourite and sealed the deal. His brother, Jonathan, claimed the bronze medal and then succeeded Al as world champion. It was, as you may have heard, a good Olympics for Yorkshiremen and women.

Charlotte Dujardin: Won team and individual gold medals in dressage, setting world records in doing so and proving that a horse really can dance to the music from The Great Escape.

Anthony Joshua: Olympic superheavyweight champion despite relative inexperience and a tough draw at London 2012. Turned down a £50,000 offer to become a professional, saying he puts medals above money.

Heather Watson: In winning the Japan Open, she became the first British woman to win a WTA Tour singles title since 1988 (Watson wasn't even born until 1992). Became the first British woman for ten years to reach the third round of Wimbledon (losing to the eventual runner-up) and ended the year in the world's top 50. A case could also be made for Laura Robson.

Alastair Cook: Maybe a late run to the line with last night's victory in Mumbai, but Cook has shown for the past two years that he is England's most reliable batsman. Averages 67 since the start of the 2010 Ashes, in which time he has made nine of his 22 Test hundreds, an England record. Has captained England in four Tests and made four centuries.

Frankel: And why shouldn't a horse win the prize? After winning the Queen Anne Stakes was given a rating of 147 by Timeform, the highest mark ever given to a horse in the company's 64-year history. Retired undefeated from 14 races - only one horse since 1900 has done as well - and now heads off to a life at stud, charging £125,000 a lay. Bradley Wiggins can't demand that.

So there you are, 12 more to mull over. Who should be moved from the B list to the A list? Who have I missed out? And hasn't this been a wonderful sporting year?

And the especially blissful thing? No footballers...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Late entry added to SPOTY shortlist: