Jessica Ennis vies with Wiggins as punters' SPOTY favourite

Dec 11, 2012

Late surge from public putting their money on Ennis makes Sports Personality award wide open

The then Jessica Ennis flies the flag at London 2012

WITH five days to go, punters are backing Olympic heptathlete Jessica Ennis to be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year in what looks like being a dramatic public vote on Sunday.

Normally one British star stands out: cyclist Mark Cavendish for a brilliant 2010, Andrew Flintoff's Aussie-bashing Ashes heroics in 2005, rugby World Cup-winner Jonny Wilkinson in 2003.  But this year's SPOTY is proving far more difficult to predict.
In any other year Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France would have been enough to land him the title.  British tennis had no men's Grand Slam champion since Fred Perry in the 1930s before Andy Murray landed the US Open in September.  Rory McIlroy is officially the world's best golfer, with a major to his name in 2012.

Yet none of these are certainties after a London Olympics which simply ignited the world's imagination.

Now Jessica Ennis, who took the heptathlon gold under such enormous pressure yet won in some style, is the betting public's top choice, according to the Daily Mail.

Wiggins remains the 1/3 favourite but Ennis  - currently 7/1 – has attracted 20 per cent of all bets placed and looks set to become the favourite before the awards ceremony takes place on Sunday.  Wiggins and Mo Farah are both tied on 12 per cent of all bets, with Murray just ahead on 14 per cent.

As The Guardian says, the title of the award has been ridiculed in the past as a misnomer – casting two-time winners Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill's as 'personalities' was questionable.  But this year's candidates have not only achieved greatness, they have captured the public's pride with their modesty, humour and candidness.

Ennis was a smiling, charming, warm champion, Farah was endearing while Wiggins revealed a sense of fun which belied his tough upbringing.  Even Murray overcame the 'dour Scot' tag to reveal a thoughtful and intelligent side.

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Previous years the public have had a chance to vote in advance by post as well as on the night by phone and I take it the red button, text and email. Why can't you vote in advance on the BBC website?