Sporting brilliance deserves to be recognised and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards certainly do that.
The awards are now synonymous with sporting achievement, although in years gone by the ‘personality’ element of the accolade has been questioned on occasions. It’s refreshing, therefore, that all six of this year’s shortlisted candidates have bags of character.
The boxer Tyson Fury definitely provides plenty of colour and entertainment, while the much more mild-mannered diver Tom Daley has attracted an army of fans for a very different personality. His knitting hobby at the Tokyo Olympics endeared him to a nation.
But what all six candidates have in common is their fantastic sporting achievements during the past calendar year. Swimmer Adam Peaty, footballer Raheem Sterling, tennis star Emma Raducanu and Paralympian Sarah Storey complete the star-studded line-up. All six have tasted sweet success in their respective sports in the past 12 months.
However, before we look at them all, it’s interesting to point out that F1 ace Lewis Hamilton – last year’s winner - is a notable absentee from the shortlist. It begs the question, would the seven-time world champion, a two-time winner of the gong, have made the list if he had not been pipped at the post by Max Verstappen in yesterday’s thrilling – and controversial conclusion – to the F1 season in Abu Dhabi?
Dutchman Verstappen overtook Hamilton on a gripping final lap of the race, but was forced to wait for his maiden F1 title after rivals Mercedes had two protests against the result rejected by stewards.
"It just summed up the whole season," Verstappen said, "which is completely unpredictable and crazy.”
A fair point, but with Mercedes seemingly ready to pursue legal action to get the result overturned, Hamilton could still find himself elevated to an eight-time world champion. But for this year he won’t have his name on the famous SPOTY trophy for a second year running.
So who will win the famous gong and see their profile raised another welcome notch ahead of 2022? Well let’s start with Tyson Fury.
His nomination has already caused a big stir because of his rift with the BBC.
The unbeaten WBC heavyweight world champion is one of the greatest boxers on the planet, if not the best. But the Gypsy King has threatened to sue the Beeb if he was nominated for the SPOTY award.
"It means nothing to me and I don't need it or want it,” Fury said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
"In fact, they will hear from my solicitors if they do put me on the list. Give it to someone who needs it. I don't.
"And, anyway, we know who the sports personality of the year is anyway - it's me.
"I am the sports personality. Who does what I do, goes through a war in Las Vegas, entertains the fans, and then sings to the audience?"
Fury, of course, was referring to his stunning 11th round win over American Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas in October.
The 33-year-old hit the canvas twice during an epic fight, before showing his warrior qualities to triumph.
It’s amazing to think the high board diver is only 27!
He’s competed in four Olympic Games and, in Tokyo this summer, proved his true class again by winning gold in the synchronised 10m platform event alongside diving partner Matty Lee.
And to cap an amazing competition in Japan, Daley also won bronze in the men's 10m platform to become the first British diver to claim four Olympic medals.
A household name since competing on the world stage as a schoolboy, the public has watched as he won major titles and also shared his grief when he tragically lost his father to cancer. They also shared his joy when he married his boyfriend and later became a father.
But it was his obsession with knitting in Tokyo which also captured the imagination of the nation. He was often filmed knitting during rest time before dives – and now even sells his own brand of knitted products!
Most recently known for starring on Strictly Come Dancing, it is Peaty’s achievements in the pool which have put him in line for this award as opposed to his fancy footwork.
The 26-year-old breaststroke powerhouse famously won Britain’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Games, powering his way to the 100m title. He remains the only swimmer to have dipped below the world record of 57 seconds for such a swim.
His achievement was all the more special given that, having won the 100m breaststroke title at 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil, Peaty became the first British swimmer to ever retain an Olympic title.
And not satisfied with his breathtaking individual success, Peaty then starred for GB’s historic 4x100m mixed medley relay winning team, and also won silver with the men’s medley line-up.
Mixed relay medal-winner James Guy summed up Peaty’s achievements when he saluted: "He’s changed British swimming massively.”
The teenage tennis sensation has the world at her feet – and she’s already an early favourite with the bookies to win this year’s prestigious crown.
Raducanu, 19, famously ended British women’s agonising 44-year wait for a Grand Slam singles champion by coming from virtual obscurity to land the US Open.
Having won the hearts of the nation for her incredible run at Wimbledon this year, Raducanu became the first qualifier in the Open era to win a Grand Slam title after a stunning straight-sets win over Canadian Leylah Fernandez.
Raducanu, then 18, did not drop a set as she became the youngest women's Slam champion since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old in 2004.
But despite earning superstar status for her incredible achievement, Raducanu recently revealed: “I feel like the exact same person and go about everything I used to do. I don’t see why I should change things.
In the summer, while awaiting her A-level results, the teenager had emerged as a star at Wimbledon, defying her ranking of 338 to reach the fourth round before retiring from her last-16 match after suffering breathing difficulties.
The Manchester City and England star had a fine summer for his country as one of the outstanding performers during Euro 2020.
His performances were key to the national side booking their place in a first major final for 55 years, although it was obviously a collective team effort that got England that far.
The winger scored the Three Lions' first three goals at the tournament, including their first in the famous 2-0 win over Germany in the last-16 stage at Wembley.
Sterling, 27, was one of three England players to make UEFA’s Team of the Tournament, with fellow City defender Kyle Walker and Manchester United defender Harry Maguire also included.
And domestically Sterling dazzled for City as they clinched their third Premier League title in four year with a memorable triumph in 2020-21.
Great Britain’s greatest Paralympian of all time, Storey is a formidable athlete having starred in the pool and on the bike during her illustrious career.
The 44-year-old Dame won an incredible 17th Paralympic gold in Toyko this summer, sealing her legendary status as GB’s most successful Paralympian of all time. She defended the women's C4-5 road race title, which she has held for nine years, in the process claiming her third goal of Paralympics.
Amazingly, Storey competed in her eighth Games since making her debut in Barcelona in 1992 as a 14-year-old swimmer.
She also won the individual pursuit on the track before claiming time-trial gold as she took her overall Paralympic medal tally to 28.
Storey cheekily joked on her Twitter account she was “doing it for the over 40s” as the oldest of this year’s contenders.
Regardless of age, her achievements mean she’s a deserved candidate for the coveted gong.
There are also a string of other awards up for grabs, including the BBC’s World Sport Star of the Year, Team of the Year, Coach of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Helen Rollason Award, Unsung Hero and Young Sports Personality of the Year.
The nominees for the BBC World Sport Star of the Year award include Mexican boxer Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, American NFL star Tom Brady and Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic
Votes can be cast by phone or online on the evening of Sunday, December 19. Details to vote for each contender will be revealed during the programme.
Previous BBC Sports Personality of the Year winners
2020 – Lewis Hamilton (Formula One)
2019 – Ben Stokes (Cricket)
2018 - Geraint Thomas (Cycling)
2017 – Mo Farah (Athletics)
2016 – Andy Murray (Tennis)
2015 – Andy Murray (Tennis)
2014 – Lewis Hamilton (Formula One)
2013 – Andy Murray (Tennis)
2012 – Bradley Wiggins (Cycling)
2011 – Mark Cavendish (Cycling)
2010 – Tony McCoy (Horse Racing)
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