Bradley Wiggins heads a list of three cyclists in BBC Sports Personality nominations
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Bradley Wiggins heads a list of three cyclists in BBC Sports Personality nominations

by Ben Atkins at 2:35 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Tour de France winner the favourite to inherit award from current teammate Mark Cavendish

bradley wigginsBradley Wiggins (Team Sky) heads a list of three cyclists as part of the twelve-strong shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award (SPOTY), to be presented at London’s ExCel on Sunday, December 16th. Mark Cavendish is the current trophy holder, having become only the second British rider to have won the World championship road race, and the first to have won the green jersey at the Tour de France. The Manxman took the award by a landslide, netting almost 50% of the public vote, with golfer Darren Clarke in second with just over 12%.

In addition to Wiggins, 2008 award winner Sir Chris Hoy has made the list thanks to his two golds in London making him the most successful British Olympian of all time. Four golds in London took para-cyclist Sarah Storey - who almost made the able-bodied Pursuit team - to a record career-total of eleven, equalling that achieved by Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, which also earned the 35-year-old her place on the list.

“It’s phenomenal news that three of our cyclists are up for the UK’s most prized annual sporting award,” said British Cycling’s President, Brian Cookson OBE on hearing the nominations. “To be nominated for Sports Personality – especially after such a spectacular Olympic year for Team GB – is an amazing recognition of what has been achieved across our sport.

“Bradley Wiggins, our first winner of the Tour de France, Sir Chris Hoy, now Britain’s most successful Olympian, and Sarah Storey – whose 11 Paralympic golds match Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s record - all thoroughly deserve their place on the shortlist,” he added. “This comes a year after Mark Cavendish won the award and if a cyclist can do it again, it will further highlight just how mainstream our sport now is.”   

Wiggins is one of the outstanding favourites for the award, having become the first ever British rider to win the Tour, then taking gold in the Olympic time trial time a week and a half later; this set an outright British record of seven career medals, which was matched by Hoy on the track a few days later.

After a hugely successful Olympic Games for Great Britain however, what would surely be an almost certain victory for Wiggins is less certain than in other years.

Also on the shortlist are Heptathlon champion - and London 2012 poster girl - Jessica Ennis, double track champion Mo Farah, Paralympic swimming champion Ellie Simmonds (who won the Young Personality in 2008), and tennis player Andy Murray who, as well as taking gold in the Olympic men's single, took the silver in the mixed doubles, made the Wimbledon final and won the US Open.

Boxer Nicola Adams makes the list, as the very first woman to take an Olympic boxing title, along with wheelchair athlete David Weir, who took four golds in London, Katherine Grainger, who finally took rowing gold in London after taking three straight silvers in previous Games, and sailor Ben Ainslie, who became the greatest-ever Olympic sailor in 2012 with his fourth gold medal.

The only non-Olympian to make the shortlist is golfer Rory McIlroy, who won the PGA Championship, was part of the victorious European Ryder Cup team, and topped the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic.

Since the BBC is Britain’s national broadcaster, the SPOTY is widely regarded as the national sportsperson of the year award. After last year’s nomination process - across a range of UK newspaper and magazine editors - controversially turned up an all-male list of sports stars, the process has been changed. The award itself will be decided in the same way however, by a public ‘phone vote on the night of the award ceremony.

Until Hoy took the award in 2008, the only cyclist to have won it was the late Tom Simpson, following his World championship victory in 1965. Cavendish took the award last year, following his own rainbow jersey and Tour de France green jersey double.

Having received the award just once in its first 54 years, British cyclists could well be set to take it for the third time in the last five.

Great Britain’s Olympic cyclists were awarded the team of the year award in 2008, after their almost complete domination of the Beijing Olympics. This year’s award is more likely to go to the entire Olympic team however, since - while the British cyclists were almost as dominant - many other sports also performed up to and beyond expectations as the host nation took its highest number of medals in the modern era.

British Cycling supremo Dave Brailsford was also awarded the Coach of the Year award in 2008, and will be one of the favourites again this time; not just for his role in Great Britain’s Olympic success, but also for Team Sky’s delivering the Tour with Wiggins.

The team and coach awards are not decided by the public vote, but by the nomination panel, as is the lifetime achievement award. Hoy could be in line for this, even though he has not actually retired [it was awarded to Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson in 2001, and David Beckham in 2010 - ed], after his having taken his sixth Olympic title this year.

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