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Sports Personality of the Year 2012: the nominees

From Bradley Wiggins to Ellie Simmonds, after London 2012 any of the nominees would be a worthy winner

For an award that has on occasions resembled a scraping of the sporting barrel, the shortlist for this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year stands as heady testament to Britain’s sporting year of years.

Between them the decorated dozen chosen to be put to the public vote next month have this year alone gathered 20 Olympic and Paralympic gold medals, a first tennis Grand Slam title for 76 years and a first ever British winner of the Tour de France. The world’s best golfer, Rory McIlroy, is also on the list. It is a far cry from Greg Rudeski’s tour de force in 1997 when he was runner-up in the US Open or the cricketer David Steele – “the bank clerk who went to war” – winning in 1975.

Andy Murray, who won the US Open and Olympic gold, Bradley Wiggins, the Tour and Olympic gold, and Mo Farah, the popular star of two Super Saturdays over consecutive Olympic weekends, are favourites to win the award, which will be held in front of a sell-out audience of 15,000 in London’s Excel centre on 16 December.

Click here or on "View Images" to see the shortlist in pictures

In notable contrast to last year’s shortlist there are five women included – there were none in 2011 – and there are also three of Britain’s Paralympians. Sarah Storey and David Weir won four gold medals in cycling and athletics respectively, while Ellie Simmonds, then 17, took two gold medals in the pool.

Since the Games Storey, Simmonds and Weir have received as much attention as their Olympic counterparts. Among other plaudits, Storey is to have a stretch of road near her Cheshire home named after her. “It’s all been very surreal,” she said. 

Simmonds is now back at school in Swansea studying for A-levels having also received an eclectic range of tributes, including an open-top bus tour of her hometown of Walsall and opening a new ride at Centre Parcs. Weir has been largely confined to home having become a father for the third time – Tillia Grace London was born last month.

The other Olympians included are Nicola Adams, another history maker as the first woman to win a boxing gold, Jessica Ennis, the sailor Ben Ainslie, who won his fourth gold in his fifth Games, Katherine Grainger – winner of gold at last after three successive silvers at three successive Games, and Sir Chris Hoy. The Scot took his total of Olympic gold to six with two more in London. The biggest surprise is the non-inclusion of Laura Trott, the dynamic 20-year-old cyclist, who won her first two world titles as well as two Olympic golds and became the darling of the crowd in the London velodrome.

McIlroy is the only one with no connection to London 2012 – golf is included in the Rio Games in 2016. The 23-year-old Northern Irishman is the wealthiest on the list after a year which saw him win the USPGA Championships, help win the Ryder Cup for Europe and end it at number one in the world rankings. From next year he will replace Tiger Woods as the face of Nike, having signed a deal worth $250m over 10 years. It will make him the second richest sports star in Britain after David Beckham, who won Sports Personality himself in 2001 in another of the drought years.

The manner in which the shortlist was selected was revamped this year after the controversy of an all-male shortlist in 2011. Last year it was chosen by editors and sports editors of national and local newspapers and magazines, including Zoo and Nuts. This time a panel headed by Barbara Slater, the corporation’s director of sport, determined the 12 candidates – two more than last year – who will be voted into a top three by the public.

The panel consists of four BBC figures, three national newspaper sports editors, a ‘pan sports broadcaster/journalist’, three former Sports Personality nominees, Steve Redgrave, Denise Lewis and Tanni Grey-Thompson, and Sue Campbell, chair of UK Sport, the body that oversees the funding of Olympic sport.

Ms Slater said: “The shortlist comprises a fantastic array of sporting talent and rightly recognises those sportspeople that have delivered moments that brought the nation together during 2012. If we ever needed reminding just how special a sporting year it has been, then the list of those sportspeople who did not make the final 12 is testament to that.”

The contenders:

Nicola Adams

The unassuming, thoroughly likeable 30-year-old from Leeds won the first Olympic women’s boxing gold when she upset the favourite Ren Cancan of China in the final.

SPOTY chances: 2/5

Ben Ainslie

The ever-reliable Ainslie claimed one of Britain’s most predictable gold medals. It was the 35-year-old’s fourth consecutive Olympic triumph

SPOTY chances: 1/5

Jessica Ennis

The face of the Games coped brilliantly with immense expectation to win hepathlon gold on the first Super Saturday. Has become one of Britain’s most recognisable sports stars.

SPOTY chances: 3/5

Mo Farah

It wasn’t just the two gold medals that the 29-year-old claimed, in the 5,000m and 10,000m, but the nerveless manner in which he won them that endured him to 80,000 in the Olympic Stadium and the nation at large

SPOTY chances: 4/5

Katherine Grainger

One of the most popular wins within Team GB – Grainger took rowing gold after winning silver in 2000, 2004 and 2008. The Scot is a vocal campaigner for women’s sport

SPOTY chances: 1/5

Sir Chris Hoy

Not his best Olympics but nevertheless he is now Britain’s greatest Olympian in terms of gold medals – the two in London took him to six as he bowed out of the Games on a high

SPOTY chances: 2/5

Rory McIlroy

The Northern Irishman offers a reminder that there was sport outside London this year. Won his second major and topped the money list in Europe and the US – world No 1

SPOTY chances: 2/5

Andy Murray

In any other year victory in the US Open – the first Grand Slam win by a Briton for 76 years – would have made Murray a shoo-in, especially when you add an Olympic gold medal and runner-up at Wimbledon. 

SPOTY chances: 4/5

Ellie Simmonds

She was only 17 but Britain’s highest-profile Paralympian coped admirably with the unique pressures of a home Games – won two golds, a silver and a bronze in the pool

SPOTY chances: 1/5

Sarah Storey

After winning four cycling gold medals, the 35-year-old now lays claim to being considered Britain’s greatest Paralympian. Has 11 gold in total, the same as Tanni Grey-Thompson and Dave Roberts

SPOTY chances: 1/5

David Weir

Hit the form of his life to double the two gold he won in Beijing at the London Paralympics. Triumphed on the track in the 5000m, the 1500m and the 800m before adding the marathon on the last day

SPOTY chances: 2/5

Bradley Wiggins

Has become perhaps Britain’s most admired sportsman. Became the first Briton to win the Tour de France and followed it with Olympic time trial gold. His sport may be reeling from the Armstrong fall-out, but here is a champion to have faith in

SPOTY chances: 5/5