Sports Personality of the Year 2016 – Murray to cap perfect year?
Ahead of the ceremony to announce BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday night, The Gryphon Sport Editors James Felton, John Gibby and Luke Etheridge along with regular writer Ryan Wan give their thoughts on who will, or should, take home the spoils with their own ‘top threes’.
If Murray had persuasive reasons to vote for him last year, he has even more this year. The current world number one, who has won Wimbledon, Olympic gold and a host of other tournaments during a very extraordinary 2016, has reached the pinnacle of his sport. He is now no longer mentioned as simply playing in the same era of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, he is one of the players competing in this golden age of tennis. Like him or not, he is a special player, with a very special talent.
My Welshness comes here. After helping Real Madrid when their second Champions League title in three years against Atletico Madrid and playing a prominent role in Wales’ qualification to Euro 2016, Bale had enough credentials to merit a place. What happened in Euro 2016 was of legendary proportions and surely places him in a good position and will certainly have the votes of a whole nation. Simply put, for Bale and co to have reached the semi-final of this prestigious tournament needs all the recognition it deserves.
Leeds born, Leeds based, and Leeds University schooled, it is fair to say Alistair Brownlee has never forgotten his roots. Neither does he forget his family. During a race in September, Alistair was on course to finish in first, a regular occurrence but something which is always a great achievement, but he noticed his brother, Jonny, fall down. Brother instincts came in and helped him cross the finish line. For this, and his Olympic gold (with brother Jonny taking the silver), Brownlee deserves to do well in Sunday night’s show.
Of course I think Andy Murray will make the top three at this year’s ceremony, but I knew without doubt my esteemed colleagues would sing his praises, so I’ve gone in a different direction. Firstly, not just because of his highly respectable origins, or even because of his fantastic achievements within his sport, for me Alistair Brownlee summed up everything that being a good ‘Sports Personality’ should be about when helping his brother Jonny across the line at the World Championships, and therefore sacrificing the race. The sort of athlete who would be an A-List celebrity if he competed in a slightly more glamorous sport, it’s time Ali Brownlee gets the recognition he deserves.
As a horse racing aficionado, I couldn’t exactly leave out this Olympic Gold winner from its sister sport, the second oldest British Olympic Champion of all time. This was the pinnacle of an illustrious career, including another Olympic Gold in London and a whole host of World and European Championships. This was all while raising his sons Dan and Harry to become two of the most exciting prospects in racing and recovering from a broken neck to resume riding early this century. This would be the perfect way to cap off a brilliant career.
The term ‘unsung hero’ is hideously overused every single year in relation to this competition, but it truly is the best way to describe Kadeena Cox. The 25 year old, again from Leeds, became the first British athlete since 1988 to win a medal in two different sports the same Paralympics, after she claimed victory in both the T38 400m on the track and the C4-5 time trial in the velodrome. Still very young, Cox has the world at her feet, and having carried the flag for Team GB at the Closing Ceremony this year, there could be so much more to come. Will she be in the top three? Probably not. Should she be? You bet.
Andy Murray. The first British singles player to top the official world rankings. The first player to successfully defend their singles title at the Olympics. The first British player to win the ATP World Tour Finals. He won nine tournaments in 2016, reaching the final of four others, and ended the year as the undisputed number one at the moment by beating Novak Djokovic. He should easily win on Sunday night, and if he managed to complete the Grand Slam by winning in Roland Garros, he’ll probably be known as Lord Murray of Wimbledon by 2020.
The Leeds-based Brownlee brothers have propelled triathlon into the sporting mainstream in Britain, with 28-year old Alistair proving to be the more successful sibling so far, securing his second Olympic gold in Rio, with younger brother Jonny completing a family 1-2. However, arguably Alistair’s best moment of 2016 came in September, when he helped his brother across the finishing line in sweltering conditions in Mexico, forfeiting a chance to win the race. An act of sportsmanship that will be remembered for years to come, showing that winning isn’t always everything.
It’s unlikely that the Kenny household’s mantelpiece will have any space on it for wedding presents, after Laura and Jason bought home five golds between them from the Rio Olympics. Laura’s bright personality off the track, combined with her steely determination on it, is likely to make her the poster girl for British sport for years to come. She’s Britain’s most successful female Olympian of all time, and at just 24, there’s no reason why she can’t become the first ever woman to reach 10 gold medals.
I am not the biggest fan of Murray, but even I cannot deny the extraordinary year he has had. Murray won last year as well, playing a vital role in Britain’s Davis Cup triumph, but I think it would be fair to say that he has achieved far more this year than last. A second Wimbledon title, a second Olympic gold and ending the year as world number one rank upon his top highlights. Despite what he has said I cannot imagine many that will be higher on the Queen’s honours list for a knighthood.
There are many words to describe the Olympic triathlon gold medallist, but the one that comes to my mind is “class act”. He repeated his gold medal winning feat from 2012, with his brother Jonny also getting silver, however his most significant moment was probably in in the final race of the World Triathlon Series in Mexico. Sacrificing a first place win to help his exhausted brother over the finishing line, even pushing him ahead displayed incredible sportsmanship in an era where winning at all costs is an often accepted practice. He is undoubtedly and rightfully the pride of Yorkshire.
Mo Farah repeated his 2012 success with another two golds to add to the first two in London four year earlier. The double double in the 5000m and 10000m makes him Britain’s most successful Olympic track and field athlete to date. His 10000m final victory in Rio was even more extraordinary considering that he fell mid race, however his determination to succeed despite this shows the never die attitude that we all like to see in sports.
BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2016 is announced on Sunday 18th December. Full information on all the nominees is available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/sports-personality/38128822
Featured image: BBC Sport