Bradley Wiggins wins Sports Personality of the Year award
Tour de France winner the shining light in sea of stars at BBC awards
Even in this year of all years, it wasn't really in much doubt, from the moment he was sat in his throne outside Hampton Court Palace, after becoming our first ever Tour de France winner. The event is still called Sports Personality of the Year and the personality of the mod with the sideburns has certainly never been in doubt.
Bradley Wiggins won, with 1.5 million votes registered, in a year when, without doubt, it's never been harder to do so. "Wiggo! Wiggo!" the crowd chanted, as the man took to the stage in a velvet suit. "I'm just going to say thank you very much to those who picked up the phone and voted. Nan, the cheque's in the post – she must have pressed redial a hundred times. There's a free bar round the back paid for by the BBC, so I hope you're all going to go to that," he joked.
Andy Murray was third. Jessica Ennis second. Mo Farah didn't even finish in the top three.
David Beckham was on hand to introduce the Lifetime Achievement award, given to Seb Coe. Beckham said of Coe's work with the London 2012 team: "He has run the Olympics and won the Olympics."
"You only have to tip-toe through the names of previous winners to know just how flattered I am," Lord Coe said.
The show began with Gary Lineker, Sue Barker and Clare Balding flying over the Olympic Stadium in a helicopter on their way to the Excel Centre, a nod no doubt to a similar journey made five months ago, back when we didn't know quite what treats awaited us.
Within 15 minutes of the show starting, Wiggins had already picked up the trophy, when he jokingly lifted it when was invited on stage to have a chat with Sue Barker, whom he called Susan throughout.
Coach of the Year went to Dave Brailsford, the cycling coach who masterminded Britain's phenomenal success in this Olympics, the last one, not to mention that famous victory for Wiggins on the Champs-Elysées. "It's about the athletes, it's about the riders," he very modestly said, his contribution arguably far greater than anyone else's.
"Everyone laughed when we said we'd win the Tour de France within five years, with a clean British rider." They're not laughing now.
An absent Usain Bolt, who ran his way into the record books in London this summer, was unanimously awarded the Overseas Sports Personality Of The Year Award and gave a modest acceptance speech on video.
The Team of the Year award was given, predictably, to TeamGB and ParalympicsGB, with the trophy being presented to Victoria Pendleton by Sir Roger Bannister.
The Helen Rollason award, named after the former BBC presenter who died from cancer in 1999 and awarded for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity, was won by Martine Wright, who lost her legs in the 7/7 bombings, the morning after London won the bid, and competed in the sitting volleyball in the Paralympics.
"I will never forget the 52 people who lost their lives," she said. "This is definitely for them as well."
Of many moving moments during a memorable night, perhaps Katherine Grainger, who finally won a rowing gold in London to add to three painful silvers from the three previous Olympics, summed it up the best. She said: "Sport ultimately is about spirit and challenge and heart. Getting knocked down and coming back up. Having a fight and having a dream."
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