Athletics: Radcliffe adds integrity

By James Lawton
Tuesday 10 December 2002 01:00

Thank heavens for Paula Radcliffe, a BBC sports personality of the year of stupendous achievement who, unlike one of her predecessors, Daley Thompson, took the trouble to look at her considerable best and spoke with a touching combination of both pride and humility.

Unfortunately, however, the whole affair continues to be dragged down by a voting pattern which could not be more removed from reality if it was conducted on Mars.

This year's prime example was the placing of last year's winner, David Beckham, at second – ahead of the record-breaking, phenomenally brave and utterly driven National Hunt star Tony McCoy. But apparently Beckham, a marginal figure in the World Cup and dropped by Manchester United at a critical phase of his club's catastrophic season, had superior claims.

McCoy should remember that just a few weeks ago the late Princess of Wales was adjudged to be a superior Briton to Shakespeare, the Duke of Wellington, Nelson, Darwin and Chaucer. The great jockey should take heart. Or maybe change his barber.

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