In Depth

Can anyone beat odds-on favourite Andy Murray to SPOTY?

The shortlist of 16 is dominated by stars of Team GB after this summers Olympics and Paralympics, with Murray clear favourite

The BBC announced on Monday evening the 16-athlete shortlist for the 2016 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award and as expected it is dominated by the nation's Olympic stars. 

All but three of the nominees - footballers Jamie Vardy and Gareth Bale and US Open winning golfer Danny Willett - starred for Britain in this summer's Olympics and Paralympics (Willett was part of the team but did not win a medal). Team GB enjoyed a sensational summer in Rio, winning 27 Olympic golds out of a total of 67 medals, with the Paralympians putting in their best performance since 1988, claiming 64 golds and 147 medals.

Among those to win gold was tennis star Andy Murray, who triumphed in the men's singles. But that was just one gong he won during the greatest year of his career, which also featured success at Wimbledon and becoming the world number one for the first time. 

Unsurprisingly, he's the bookies' favourite at 1-6 to win the award for the third time in four years having also been crowned SPOTY in 2013 and 2015.

Murray's stiffest competition is likely to come from Alistair Brownlee, says the Daily Telegraph, after he retained the men’s Olympic triathlon title and won almost as many plaudits for his "decision to offer his half-delirious younger brother Jonny his shoulder", helping him across the finish line at the final of the World Triathlon Series in Mexico in September. 

The bookmakers have installed Brownlee at second favourite (7-1) with cyclist Laura Kenny and athlete Mo Farah battling it out for third. She and her new husband Jason Kenny are the first married couple to make the SPOTY shortlist having won five gold medals between them at the Rio Olympics.

Among the notable omissions from the list, in the opinion of The Guardian, are cyclists Bradley Wiggins, who became the most decorated British athlete in Olympic history in Rio, and Chris Froome, who won a third Tour de France title in July (and an Olympic bronze medal). 

In addition, some will be disappointed not to see boxer Chris Frampton, who became the first two division world champion in the history of Northern Ireland, and The Times is surprised at the exclusion of England rugby start Maro Itoje, who inspired England to their first Six Nations Grand Slam for 13 years and was also instrumental in helping his club, Saracens, become European Cup champions. 

In contrast eyebrows might be raised at the inclusion of Gareth Bale, who plays his club football for Real Madrid and barely set foot in Britain in 2016. He is Welsh, however, and was part of the side that put England to shame at Euro 2016 by making it to the semi-finals of the tournament.

The winner will be announced at a star-studded ceremony hosted by Gary Lineker and Claire Balding on 18 December with the public able to vote for their favourite by phone and online during the live show.

The nominees and odds are:

Andy Murray - Tennis - 1-6

Alistair Brownlee - Triathlon - 7-1

Laura Kenny - Cycling - 20-1

Mo Farah - Athletics - 20-1

Gareth Bale - Football - 33-1

Jason Kenny - Cycling - 66-1

Nick Skelton - Equestrian - 66-1

Jamie Vardy - Football - 66-1

Max Whitlock - Gymnastics - 66-1

Nicola Adams - Boxing - 100-1

Adam Peaty - Swimming - 100-1

Dame Sarah Storey - Cycling - 100-1

Danny Willett - Golf - 150-1

Sophie Christiansen - Equestrian - 250-1

Kadeena Cox - Athletics/Cycling  - 250-1

Kate Richardson-Walsh - Hockey - 250-1


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