Who’ll Be the Next Sports Personality of the Year?

By Jenny Laurence

As seen in Pegasus Pages (December 2012).

This year, I was extremely interested in SPOTY, if only because of what happened last year. For those of you who don’t know, every one of the 10 in the shortlist WAS A MAN. (Winner: Mark Cavendish.)

So this year, when the list came out, I was definitely unsurprised to see that 5/12 nominees were women. In fact, the panel (comprising people like Sir Steve Redgrave and Baroness Campbell ‒ chair of UK Sport) was extremely balanced in their shortlist…

We have a 5:7 ratio of women to men, a 3:9 ratio of disabled to able bodied people, one person not in the Olympic Games (Rory McIlroy), and representatives from ten various sports. Odds from the Independent seem a little unfair though..

Nominees Chances Info
Nicola Adams (boxing) 2/5 OG: 1st British female gold (beat China)
Ben Ainslie (sailing) 1/5 OG: His 4th O.G gold
Jessica Ennis (heptathlete) 3/5 OG: The ‘mascot’, and gold on Super Saturday.
Mo Farah (LD runner) 4/5 OG: 3 golds – 5K, 10K, 80K
Katherine Grainger (rower) 1/5 OG: 1 Gold after 3 silvers in other OGs
Sir Chris Hoy (cyclist) 2/5 OG: 2 gold + 4 previous golds
Rory McIlroy  (golfer) 2/5 World No.1. 2 majors and top earner in Europe and the US
Andy Murray (tennis) 4/5 OG: 1 Gold, Wimbledon runner up, 1st British ‘US Grand Slam’ winner in 76yrs
Ellie Simmonds (swimmer) 1/5 PG: 2 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze aged 17
Sarah Storey (cyclist) 1/5 PG: 4 golds, +7 more golds in other PGs
David Weir (wheelchair athlete) 2/5 PG: 4 gold in 5k, 15K, 800m
Bradley Wiggins (cyclist) 5/5 OG: gold + 1st Briton to win Tour de France.

You may have noticed that the only 5/5 is the celebrated side-burned 32 year old, Bradley Wiggins. And with credit – he was the first British winner of the Tour de France and the champion of the road race in the Olympics this year.

But the 5 women in the list are Sarah Storey (PG), Ellie Simmonds (PG), Katherine Grainger (OG), Nicola Adams (OG), and Jessica Ennis (OG.) The first three of those inspirational athletes have 1/5 chance of winning. This makes us question – does The Indpenedent think that they are there just for a representative position, which would justify the low 1/5 chance of winning? Bear in mind that this nomination is most likely going to be Katherine Grainger’s last wondrous achievement of her career.

Nicola Adams had a bit more luck, with 2/5. She won the first EVER gold in boxing for women, against a member of the Chinese delegation, as well! Doesn’t that deserve some recognition?

But Jessica Ennis ‒ the image of the Olympics Games in London 2012. The woman who advertised for Olay, Powerade and BP on top of all the training she was cramming in to win her magnificent gold. The 5″5 athlete who won in every category, bar one, meant that she secured the gold by 300 points! Surely, SURELY it should be her? The one woman who’s talent and personality was chosen to represent Britain?

To be honest, it would be nice compensation for the appalling lineup last year. Plus, we women have only been the recipients of the award thirteen times since SPOTY began 57 years ago. Yes. Thirteen.

Unfortunately, a compensation for women is sexism against men. And I’m not sexist… So, how to decide? How could they POSSIBLY allow one person to win this award, when every gold and every success we had this year represents the strength we have built up in British sport? Like every sport, this year’s success was a team effort. A team. How can one person represent a team? I cannot deny that it would be nice to have a woman collect the award. (But that is only because I am a woman and I hold a grudge.)

My personal opinion (and I have a few) is that no one should win it. There will always be debates and controversy. Trying to justify Wiggo winning, instead of the Wheelchair Weirwolf or Ennis the Menace, is just not right. Everyone won – and each of equal merit. Plus, an argument after the announcement would just ruin Christmas, and the year of Britain, and could catalyse the end of the world.

I think that (as patriotism really has run riot this year) the Sport’s Personality of the Year 2012 Winner really ought to be: Britain.

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