First winner, 1954
It looks as if one of the individual sportsmen or women will win it. It isn't too often that one individual emerges from a team sport. Michael Owen did superbly well in the World Cup, but other players like Tony Adams also performed brilliantly. From a personal pointy of view, I think that Iwan Thomas will edge out Tim Henman or Denise Lewis. He is European and Commonwealth champion and is proving himself to be one of the very best in the world. Not many other sportsmen or women have reached those heights, though Denise Lewis has performed superbly throughout the season.
It hasn't been a very exciting year for sport. In motorsport, Colin McRae did well but didn't retain the championship, while Damon Hill won a race for Jordan but didn't challenge for the title. I thought that Greg Rusedski was going to do really well at the beginning of the year, but he faded. To be frank, no sport really stood out. So I guess the young lad, Michael Owen, would be a worthy winner in an otherwise moderate year. I have an 18-year old son, so I can appreciate just how impressive he has been, especially in France. I now look forward to 1999, hopefully it will be better.
I'm quite unashamedly biased. As far as I'm concerned, there is no contest. The award should go to one of two people: Iwan Thomas and Denise Lewis. Both have produced incredible performances at the very highest level. They are both European and Commonwealth champions and are consistently beating the very best athletes in the world. And this is in two events which we have never truly shone in before. I think it is difficult to pick Michael Owen out of a failed World Cup campaign. Maybe if he was competing in an individual sport, he would be a more serious contender.
From my point of view, the obvious winner is Prince Naseem. Look at his record this year. Not only is he unbeaten, but he has also defended his title in America. Twice. And not many people have done that before. You can't argue with those facts. I believe he's a great ambassador for sport and Britain - a true champion. Others that have caught my eye include Darren Gough and Lee Westwood. They have both had good seasons, establishing themselves as world-class sportsmen. Of course Michael Owen's performances excited me, but he has not won anything. Prince Naseem has.
There certainly weren't 20 brilliant performances this year. Michael Owen has to be favourite because he gave us some breathtaking moments. After that, Big Lennox has impressed in the ring. And, unlike, Naseem Hamed whose recent behaviour has been deplorable, he's a lovely big chap is Lennox. Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski should come in to the reckoning - they are exciting, determined guys, who are up there with the best. My overseas sports personality of the year is definitely Mika Hakkinen. I loved watching him. His driving last season was outstanding.
I think Michael Owen will win, because of that goal at the World Cup against Argentina. He showed unbelievable composure for an 18-year old. It proves that, even though we failed in France, we have a bright future. It bodes well for 2002. Other sportsmen who have impressed me this season are Iwan Thomas and Denise Lewis for their incredible performances at 400m and heptathlon, Alec Stewart for winning a major Test series, Colin Montgomerie for finishing top in Europe for the sixth consecutive year. Any of these would be a very worthy winner.
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