Hoy races past Hamilton to be crowned sports personality

Olympic gold-winning cyclist beats F1 champion and swimmer Adlington to award. Nick Harris reports
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The Independent Online

Chris Hoy landed the most unexpected and stunning win of his sporting year last night as he was crowned the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. His triumph came in the most hotly contested edition of the award in its 55-year history. Hoy edged Lewis Hamilton into second place, with swimming heroine Rebecca Adlington third.

The 32-year-old Edinburgh-born Hoy won three gold medals in the velodrome at the Beijing Olympics to become the first Briton in 100 years to amass such a tally at one Games. Wins in the keirin, the team sprint and the individual sprint made him the most successful male Olympic cyclist ever.

Hoy's triumph last night was the third shock in the last three years of the BBC award, after last-gasp victories by Joe Calzaghe last year and Zara Phillips in 2006. Hamilton was the favourite for this year's award until a week ago, when Adlington surged to the top of the bookmakers' lists.

When phone voting lines closed last night and betting was suspended on online exchanges, Adlington remained odds-on favourite, with Hamilton second favourite and Hoy the 13-2 outsider. The British public – in all probability helped by a block vote from Scotland – confounded the odds.

"I really wasn't expecting this, it's such a shock,"� Hoy said. "This is the big one. I'm just overwhelmed. This is incredible. British sport has enjoyed one of its most successful years in my lifetime, and it's incredible... I didn't think the year could get any better, but any sportsman will tell you this is the award they want."�

Hamilton said he was "not at all disappointed"� to be second and praised the quality of the 10-person shortlist. "I was up against some amazing athletes who have achieved so much," he said.� Adlington said: "I'm just so happy for Chris. He deserved it... It's such an honour just to know Chris. His attitude is utterly professional and he's a really nice person and fantastic role model too."

Heroes of the Olympics and Paralympics swept the board, with cyclists prominent. The Olympic cycling team won the Team of the Year award, and their coach, Dave Brailsford, was Coach of the Year, putting the Champions League winners Manchester United and manager Sir Alex Ferguson in the shade.

Footballers, cricketers and rugby players were notable largely by their absence from the podium and the contenders' lists last night as the nation reprised the Olympics mania of the summer.

Hoy garnered 283,630 votes to win in a public telephone poll. That put him well clear of Hamilton (163,864) and Adlington (145,924). The show was staged in front of a sell-out audience of 9,000 people at the Liverpool Echo Arena.

Ellie Simmonds, who won two swimming gold medals aged 13 at the Paralympics, was chosen as the Young Sports Personality of the Year, ahead of Tom Daley, who reached two diving finals aged 14, and Laura Robson, who lifted the junior Wimbledon title. "I only came for fun tonight," said Simmonds, who turned 14 last month. "I wanted to meet all the famous people like Lewis Hamilton."�

Jamaica's Usain Bolt won the Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award for his sensational 100 metres and 200m double Olympic gold achievements in world record times. He finished ahead of the American swimming phenomenon Michael Phelps, who set seven world records and an Olympic record of winning eight golds in one Games.

Amid emotional scenes, Sir Bobby Charlton collected the Lifetime Achievement award from his brother, Jack, in recognition of six decades in football at the highest level. He won almost every major team and individual award in his career. "Unquestionably the best player of all time,"� Sir Alex Ferguson said in tribute.

Sir Bobby himself was moved to tears afterwards, saying he had not known the long-estranged Jack would be there. "I was good at football, that's all,"� he said. "This was so beautiful tonight. I've never felt like that before."�

Alastair Hignell, the former England rugby union international, collected the Helen Rollason Award for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity for his fund-raising work since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999.

Never before has the main award had such strength in depth among its 10 contenders. Aside from Adlington and Hoy, there were five other Olympic gold medal winners. Bradley Wiggins won two cycling golds in Beijing, while Rebecca Romero won one to become the first Briton ever to gain Olympic medals in different summer sports. Another cyclist on the shortlist was Nicole Cooke, who started the British gold rush in China by winning the road race, and then became the first woman ever to be Olympic and world champion simultaneously.

Ben Ainslie won a third consecutive sailing gold, and fourth Olympic medal in all since 1996, while Christine Ohuruogu added the 400m Olympic title to a portfolio including success at last year's world championships.

Hamilton was joined in the three-man non-Olympian bracket by boxer Calzaghe and Andy Murray. Britain's No 1 tennis player made it to the shortlist after an impressive year that peaked with an appearance in the US Open final, where he lost to Roger Federer.

Using Murray as a barometer showed the quality of the candidates. In 1997, Greg Rusedski won the award when his best achievement that year was losing in the US Open final.

Sports Personality: Roll of honour

*SPORTS personality of the year: Chris Hoy

*OVERSEAS personality of the year: Usain Bolt

*TEAM OF THE YEAR British Olympic: cycling team

*LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Sir Bobby Charlton

*YOUNG Sports personality of the year: Eleanor Simmonds

*COACH OF THE YEAR: Dave Brailsford

*UNSUNG HERO: Ben Geyser

*HELEN ROLLASON award: Alastair Hignell

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