Saturday, December 12, 2009

My View on Sports Personality of the Year

Earlier today I promised that I would give my take on the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year shortlist. So here we go.

First off here is the actual shortlist of 10
  • Jenson Button
  • Mark Cavendish
  • Tom Daley
  • Jessica Ennis
  • Ryan Giggs
  • David Haye
  • Phillips Idowu
  • Andy Murray
  • Andrew Strauss
  • Beth Tweddle
Let's start of the Football and Cricket, these two sports seem to have a right to have someone on the list. If you look at the full list of nominees from the press you may see why. Cricket had Stuart Broad, Andrew Flintoff and Charlotte Edwards nominated along with Strauss. Football had Kelly Smith, John Terry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Darren Fletcher keeping Giggs company.

Of course Strauss was the highest scorer in the Ashes series with 474 for an average of 52.66. So he was undoubtedly the batsman of the series add on to that captaining the side to regain the Ashes. But that sadly in my eyes is not enough to warrant winning this prize across all sports. As for Ryan Giggs yes he was again an integral part in his eleventh Premier League title with Man United, winning the PFA player of the year title in the process. But none of that in itself is enough to lift the award. If anything Ryan still playing at the top level for the same team should qualify for the Lifetime Achievement Award which is going to Seve Ballesteros tomorrow.

Boxing only have David Haye on the shortlist this year, both Amir Khan and Carl Froch were nominated. But Boxers don't fair well in winning. Ricky Hatton never did and Joe Calzaghe had to wait so long at the top before he won in 2007. Haye though has stepped up from Cruiserweight where he held the WBA, WBC and WBO world titles to take on the Heavyweights. He was originally to fight either of the Klitschko brothers Vitali the WBC Champ on 20 June ,the Vladimir IBF and WBA on the same date, only for Haye to pull out injured. In the end just last month he defeated the giant seven foot Nikolai Valuev. When Lennox Lewis and Joe Calzaghe won this title they were both undisputed World Champions admittedly something Haye almost did at Cruiserweight. A mighty achievement but he may and should be passed over for the Top spot this time.

Andy Murray may have won more tennis events in this year than any previous male tennis player in a season. Indeed his six tour titles not counting the slams was more than anyone else, even Federer and Nadal. But Greg Rusedski won his award for getting to the US open final, Andy did that last year. This prize will be Andy's in the future I'm sure when he breaks the British tennis duck since Fred Perry and lifts one of the Grand Slams. So not this year even though he was at one point number two in the world.

As for Jenson Button he had a blinding start to this season, but then somewhat tailed off to win his championship. He did hang in there to lift the world championship, but the early season form was as much a part of the ingenuity of Ross Brawn as the skills of JB, even though I love F1 I fell that Brawn GP should win the team award but not Jenson the individual. Jenson also has the disadvantage that sometimes our World Champs don't win while the losers do. Lewis Hamilton didn't win as Champion last year and Mansell and Damon Hill both won Sports Personality as losers before winning again as World Champs.

That leaves the other five from where I think the deserving winner. Four individual World Champions and the winningest man in his sport this year.

The world of cycling is limited to just one choice Mark Cavendish. Both Bradley Wiggins and Vitoria Pendleton were also on the nominations, Bradley had . Cav won an amazing six stages on the Tour de France after 3 stages in the Giro d'Italia and 2 in the Tour de Suisse. Some will say that Cav had the help of his lead out train, but not for all of these stage wins. For some he was riding on his opponents wheel which shows just how good a sprinter he was.

Athletics produces two worthy candidates Phillips Idowu following in the hop, step and jumps of Jonathan Edwards won the Triple Jump and Jessica Ennis continues the depth of British success in the multi-event disciplines. Denise Lewis never lifted the top prize for her Heptathlon indeed only Daley Thompson as a multi-event athlete has won SPotY. But she put aside the disappointment of injury in Olympic year and watching Kelly Sotherton fail to capitalise on the retirement of Kluft. However, for someone not of the typical heptathlete physique she towered above the more lengthy limbed opponents to lead with the third best day one score ever and end up only 100 points shy of Denise Lewis's British and Commonwealth record with 6,731 points.

Phillips faced a different disappointment at Beijing, he went as the longest jumper in the world after his trials performance. Jumped further in the final but only took silver. But added the World Outdoor championships with a PB and World Best performance of 17.73 to his World Indoor, Commonwealth and European Indoor titles. He has jumped further than Jonathan Edwards indoors but has yet to get to the distance that the former Olympic champion did outdoors, but a constantly improving effort again this year from a man who is already one of the best in the world at the moment.

Tom Daley is currently Britain's youngest senior world champion. Having jumped in the synchronised event in Beijing, the youngster went solo to his success this year. Whilst he does not yet have the high level of difficulty of some of his opponents he kept consistent good scores and when they had a poor final round of dives soared ahead of the two Chinese to take gold. Quite an achievement for a lower tariff performer. In fact his winning score of 539.85 pts was higher than Matt Mitcham's 537.95 which secured gold at the Olympics last year. His new partnership with Max Brink only finished 9th in the final, but for a first year together the synchronisation needs time to bed in.

That leads to Beth Tweddle, who came third in 2006 when she was Britain's first world Champion on the Uneven Bars. However, this year she fell in her preferred event in qualifying in front of the home crowd in London. A couple of days later having qualified for her other event the floor for which she had never medalled in her previous two World Champ finals she pulled out all the stops and won. Indeed that failure in the uneven bars was the only time that she failed to top the podium in her two events in competition this year.

My personal preference for the top three this year is:

1. Beth Tweddle

2. Mark Cavendish

3. Tom Daley

I suspect I will be wrong as this omits any of the so called "big" sports and is based purely on another sportsman basis of meritocracy.

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