Bradley Wiggins 2-5 favourite to win sports personality award
Shortlist for BBC awards ceremony includes 11 Olympians and Paralympians – plus Rory McIlroy
THE shortlist has been revealed for the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award and, as expected, the names are dominated by Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Normally the list contains only 10 names but in light of what has been arguably Britain's most successful year of sporting success ever, the BBC has done the decent thing and extended it to a diamond dozen.
Only Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy didn't strike gold at the London Games, his nomination coming on the back of his victory in the PGA Championship as well as his part in Europe's Ryder Cup success.
Otherwise the shortlist contains men and women who thrilled the home crowd at this summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games. Bradley Wiggins, who followed up his Tour de France triumph by becoming winning gold in the Time Trial cycling, will be hoping to emulate fellow cyclist Mark Cavendish, who won the 2011 award. On that occasion no women made the shortlist. This year, there are plenty of females athletes in the selection.
Jessica Ennis, who won gold in the Hepthalon, is a strong contender to win the coveted award, but she'll face stiff competition from rower Katherine Grainger, boxer Nicola Adams and Paralympians Sarah Storey (cycling) and Ellie Simmonds (swimming).
Another Paralympian, wheelchair track athlete David Weir, makes the cut, as does cyclist Chris Hoy, sailor Ben Ainslie and long-distance runner Mo Farah.
Andy Murray is the twelfth name on the list after what was an unprecedented year of success for the 25 year-old from Dunblane. The Scot became the first Briton to reach the Wimbledon men's singles final since 1938; the first Briton to win a Grand Slam tournament (the US Open) since 1936; and the first Briton to win the Olympic singles title for 104 years.
Yet despite his glittering year, Murray is only third favourite to win according to bookmaker Ladbrokes. They've installed Bradley Wiggins as the strong 2-5 favourite in light of the Londoner becoming the first Briton ever to win the Tour de France. In addition, his cheeky chappie persona, and the fact he recently got knocked off his bike during a training ride, could work in his favour.
Murray in contrast, despite bursting into tears on centre court in the aftermath of his defeat to Roger Federer at Wimbledon, is seen by many to be dour and unapproachable.
Another to benefit from his personality – which, after all, is what the award is all about – is Olympic double gold medallist Mo Farah. The Somalia-born runner became the first British male athlete to win the Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m titles, and his celebratory ‘Mobot' dance began a craze that swept sports clubs and schools.
Punters fancying a long-shot might be advised to have a flutter on Ben Ainslie, a 150-1 outsider according to Ladbroke's, despite his winning a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal (and fifth in total). In doing so Ainslie became the world's most successful Olympic sailor, and the sailing world plans to mobilise support among the many millions of boating enthusiast.
Sail-world.com is calling on its readers to back Ainslie, as is the Royal Yacht Association, which believes the 35-year-old has yet to receive the recognition he fully deserves for the dominance of his sport.
The public phone vote takes place on Sunday 16 December.