Jessica Ennis wants more attention on women's sport

Ennis among the 12 nominees for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Jessica Ennis has called for more attention to be paid to top-level women's sport after being confirmed as one of five women on this year's shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

The award ran into controversy last year when not one woman was included on the final voting list, but this year Ennis is joined by Nicola Adams, Katherine Grainger, Ellie Simmonds and Sarah Storey.

Ennis told the Radio Times: "We need more coverage of women's sport and we need to get women involved in coaching and administration.

"It's important that girls aren't afraid of sport. I remember when I first started doing weight training, I didn't want to be any good because I didn't want to be all muscly.

"My coach sat me down and said that if I had more muscles than the average woman, but won an Olympic gold medal, it would be worth it. He was right, but it's hard when you're younger and want to look like everyone else."

Tour de France champion and Olympic time trial gold medallist Bradley Wiggins is the bookmakers' favourite to scoop the award, ahead of double Olympic champion Mo Farah and US Open winner Andy Murray.

World golf number one Rory McIlroy declared his delight at making the list for the second straight year, saying: "It is a real honour to be nominated two years in a row.

"With it being an Olympic year, and with so many outstanding achievements in British sport in 2012, the voting is sure to go right down to the wire."

Along with swimmer Simmonds and cyclist Storey, David Weir was the third Paralympian to make the list after his magnificent four-gold haul from London.

The list also included former winner Sir Chris Hoy, who became the most successful British Olympian in terms of gold medals when he won his seventh in London, and sailor Ben Ainslie, who won his fourth.

Adams, who floored world number one Ren Cancan on her way to becoming the first Olympic women's boxing champion, said: "I didn't expect to be nominated, let along make the short list. There are so many big names on the list, and so many others who didn't make it, that I am just happy to be part of it."

Such was the strength of competition in what has been a remarkable year of success in British sport that a handful of those who lit up London 2012 have been left off the shortlist.

Cyclists Laura Trott and Jason Kenny and dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin all won two Olympic golds each but were edged out of the reckoning.

Barbara Slater, the director of BBC Sport who chaired a shortlisting panel including the likes of Sir Steve Redgrave, Denise Lewis and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, admitted that having to leave out so many big names had been painful.

Slater said in a BBC blog: "We had already extended the shortlist for the main award this year from 10 to 12, but at times we all wished it was nearer 15 or 20."

PA

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