Who on earth will win Sports Personality this year?
After an extraordinary summer of sport the public faces a tough decision this Christmas
ANDY MURRAY'S epic triumph at the US Open is just one more highlight in what has been an amazing year for British sport. But with so many heroes to choose from, who will win this year's Sports Personality of the Year award?
Last year it went to cyclist Mark Cavendish for winning the green jersey, awarded to the best sprinter in the Tour de France, and being crowned cycling world champion. This year, those achievements, impressive though they were, would hardly be worth a mention.
A shortlist of ten contenders is submitted by a panel of judges in November and the winner is chosen by public vote, meaning their profile is almost as significant as their achievement. So what are the odds for the main contenders?
Twitter followers: 605,000
Facebook likes: 80,000
He might not have a huge social media following, but the cyclist is the bookies' favourite. He became the first Briton to win the Tour de France this year, a remarkable achievement in itself, and followed it up by winning the time trial at London 2012. He now has four Olympic golds and seven medals overall, the same number as Chris Hoy. But the award also takes personality into account and 'Wiggo' has plenty of it. The bona fide mod has the coolest sideburns in sport and a clothing deal with Fred Perry. After winning the Tour de France in Paris he sauntered up to the microphone and addressed the crowd in English, and one of the enduring images of the Olympics is of Wiggins reclining nonchalently on a giant throne at Hampton Court after the time trial.
Twitter followers: 1.2 million
Facebook likes: 805,000
Andy Murray's achievements this year easily rank alongside those of Bradley Wiggins. The Scot became the first Briton to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament for 76 years when he beat Novak Djokovic at the US Open on Monday night. He also won a gold medal at the Olympics, beating Roger Federer in the final, and picked up a silver in the mixed doubles. Murray even made it to the Wimbledon final in July, but lost to Federer. Murray's problem, though, appears to be that he isn't quite as likeable as Wiggins. South of the border he is seen as rather dour and some people are still put out by a throwaway remark he made about the England football team in 2006. He has started winning over the doubters but perhaps some groovy sideburns would help.
Twitter followers: 548, 422
Facebook likes: 188,679
The distance runner took gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m at the Olympics and even invented his own celebration, the Mobot, which was eagerly adopted by fans up and down the country. Days after his triumph in east London he also became the father of twins. Bubbly and likeable, Farah arrived in Britain at the age of eight from Somalia unable to speak more than a few words of English. His achievement at London 2012 was described as the greatest performance by a British athlete of all time and his victories sent the BBC team at the Olympics hysterical.
Twitter followers: 800,000
Facebook likes: 996,000
The poster girl of the London Olympics delivered in devastating fashion when the Games began, and she might have something to say about the assertion that Farah's performance was the greatest ever by a British athlete. The glamorous heptathlete set personal bests in the 100m hurdles, the 200m and the javelin and had the gold all but wrapped by the last event, the 800m. But instead of sitting back and making sure she won the overall event she electrified the crowd by winning the race as well.
Twitter followers: 355,000
Facebook likes: 65,000
It is astonishing that the most successful Olympian in British history is a 100/1 shot to win the prize, but it's been that sort of year. Plus voters might decide that seeing as he won the title in 2008 someone else should wear the crown. At the London Games he won gold in the team sprint and the keirin to take his tally of Olympic golds to six, and his overall total of seven medals make him Britain's most decorated Olympian.
Twitter followers: 29,500
Facebook likes: 30,000
If Ennis was the poster girl of the Olympics, then Simmonds fulfilled that role at the Paralympics. She rose to prominence at the age of just 13 at the Beijing Games and despite being only 17 she was thrust into the limelight in London. But the pressure did not get to her and she dominated in the swimming pool where she won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze. Her success also helped improve the mood of British swimming fans, who had been left disappointed by the performance of Team GB in the pool at the Olympics.
Twitter followers: 21,000
Facebook likes: 4,000
The wheelchair racer known as the 'Weirwolf' was one of the stars of the summer and won an incredible four gold medals at the London Paralympics, triumphing in the 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m and marathon. That final gold was Britain's last medal of the summer and capped an incredible few weeks for British sport.
Those may be the frontrunners, but there are plenty of others who would have fancied their chances in other years. Paralympic heroes like Sarah Storey and Jonnie Peacock are not even in the running. Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott, the darlings of the velodrome, don't stand a chance and spare a thought for Ben Ainslie. He has won gold medals at four consecutive Olympics and won a silver at Atlanta in 1996, he's been feted by IOC president Jaques Rogge, but is 200/1 at Paddy Power to win the BBC award.
Then there are others who did not take part in the Olympics to consider. Lewis Hamilton still has a chance of winning the Formula One title and Rory McIlroy could lead Europe to glory in the Ryder Cup. Both men have over a million followers on Twitter and would win plenty of votes.
However, social media isn't everything. Wayne Rooney has 4 million Twitter followers and 10 million Facebook likes. He also has absolutely no chance of winning the award after another poor showing for England at Euro 2012. ·