By Robin Scott-Elliot, Simon Rice, Jack Brennan
Andy Murray is the overwhelming favourite to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year from the 10-strong shortlist named tonight, and leave Mo Farah’s remarkable distance double unrewarded for the second year running.
Last year Bradley Wiggins won the public vote – more than 1.6m votes were cast – after becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France and adding Olympic time-trial gold, while Farah came only fourth, behind Jess Ennis and Murray, despite his double Olympic gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m. In August Farah mirrored his Olympic achievements at the World Championships in Moscow.
Yet after ending the country’s worst sporting drought to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since 1936, Murray is widely regarded as a sure thing for the traditional end-of-year award. The Scot is as short as 50-1 on with some bookmakers. Farah and former winner Tony McCoy, who rode his 4,000th winner this month, are a distant second and third favourite respectively.
Murray is one of eight men on the short list – the wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft and Christine Ohuruogu are the only women. The BBC have been in the past been criticised for failing to give due recognition to women and surprisingly there is no place for Becky James, who won two gold and two bronze medals at the world track championships.
There are eight different sports represented but no footballers, with Gareth Bale a notable absentee. Leigh Halfpenny and Ian Bell are singled out from major team sports, rugby union and cricket respectively
1997 was the last year a tennis player was chosen as Sports Personality when Greg Rusedski was given the honour, which has been running since 1954, for reaching the final of the US Open. In contrast this year, like 2012 in which Murray won the US Open as well as an Olympic gold of his own, will see some stellar achievements fail to even earn a place in the top three – Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup miracle, Chris Froome winning the Tour de France, Ohuruogu becoming world 400m champion for a second time and Justin Rose seizing the US Open, the first win by an Englishman in a major for 17 years.
The list was chosen by a panel that included Sue Barker, Kelly Holmes, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marcus Trescothick and Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, the body that oversees Olympic and Paralympic sport in this country, and a number of BBC sports editors and national newspaper sports editors. Sports Personality of the Year will be broadcast live from Leeds on 15 December.