AS an avid sports fan, I have watched BBC Sports Personality of the Year for as long as I can remember or for of those of you who recall it when it was plain old Sports Review of the Year from the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London.
But there has rarely been a year like 2016. There are no plucky Brits in the mammoth list of 16 contenders – each with a deserving case for the award. But here are my top three:
3) DAME SARAH STOREY
A Paralympian has never finished in the top three for this award since Dame Tanni-Grey Thompson in 2000. But Dame Sarah Storey is worthy of a place on the podium having overtaken her as Britain’s most successful Paralympic athlete.
Three golds in Rio took her overall tally to 14, which is a phenomenal effort dating back to Barcelona in 1992. Her first five gold medals were collected in swimming. But that wasn’t enough for Sarah as she switched to cycling as has picked up nine more, divided between the road and the track.
Determination, skill, longevity. She has all of these qualities in bucket-loads and her achievements deserve to be recognised.
2) MO FARAH
THE guy is an absolute star and it’s almost a sporting travesty how he has never finished higher than third for the award. In that year, he ‘only’ won a gold in the World Championship at 5000m.
Since then, he has won both the 5000 and 10,000m at two Olympic Games and two World Championships. Alongside Usain Bolt, he is one of the two driving forces in athletics. He has won four Olympic golds, the most ever by a British athlete and he matched the efforts of Seb Coe and Daley Thompson – two British sporting icons and Sports Personality winners – in retaining an Olympic title, but in two events.
For this year, there was the added bonus of recovering from a fall in the Olympic 10,000m final but he picked himself up and come back to win in an incredible show of determination.
1) ANDY MURRAY
ANDY MURRAY is not just the best sportsman or woman of the year. He is a contender for the best sportsman we have ever had. He has already won Sports Personality twice and been third once, but his achievements this year are above what he has already produced.
There was a second Wimbledon title, a second Olympic gold medal, he was the flag-bearer for Team GB in Rio to show the standing in which he is held. And then just last month, he overtook Novak Djokovic to become the World No.1 in tennis – a phenomenal effort.
Andy’s whole career has been played out in the public eye with his biggest victories and lowest defeats there for everyone to see. He carried the burden of our 77-year wait to see a male British Champion at Wimbledon, he won the Davis Cup with a little help from his brother and now he has overtaken three of the greatest ever players to reach the summit in tennis – one of the most competitive and international sports on the planet. But Andy has needed to perform such heroics just to be the best sportsman or woman in Britain this year!
Coach of the Year: Danny Kerry (Women’s hockey team)
Team of the Year: Leicester City
Overseas Personality: Usain Bolt
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