It’s that time of the year again – the time for glamour, prestige and celebration. 22 December will see the showcasing of a year of excellence in British Sport, culminating in one elite sportsperson returning home as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Though, amidst much controversy, this year’s winning sportsperson is guaranteed to be a sportsman as the top ten includes no female contenders. However, each candidate is there on merit and arguably the most successful female British athlete this year, Rebecca Adlington, has expressed her backing for the final ten, a list that has been dubbed “one of the strongest fields ever seen.”
Here are the first five nominees:
…won three consecutive final stages.
Recently presented with an MBE, Mark Cavendish presents a CV that would be hard for voters to say no to. In 2011, Cavendish won five Tour de France stages, increasing his career tally to 20. He also became the first cyclist since Eddy Merckx in 1972 to have won three consecutive final stages. In so doing, he won the Green Jersey – the first Brit to ever achieve such a feat. Further wins came in stage six of the Tour of Oman and at Grote Scheldeprijs. Cavendish broke another record in becoming Britain’s first male world road race champion for 46 years. Such success has made him the bookmakers’ favourite for the award.
…sixth highest score by an Englishman ever.
The 26-year-old batsman has had a spectacular year, scoring 766 runs in total during the Ashes to earn him the Man of the Series award. His sizeable contribution helped England clinch the series on Australian soil and later become the number one Test team in the world. This summer, Cook notched up 294 against India, the sixth highest score by an Englishman ever. This took his test run total to beyond 5,000, making him the second youngest batsman to reach the landmark after Sachin Tendulkar. In addition to Test success, Cook was named the captain of England’s one day side in which he led the nation to a series win over India.
…earned him the title of Athlete of the Year,
The odds suggest that Mo Farah has a considerable chance of becoming the first track and field athlete to win Sports Personality of the Year since Kelly Holmes in 2004. This year, Farah won a gold in the 5,000m at the Daegu World Championships, giving Britain its maiden long distance gold medal for a male. He also took silver in the 10,000 metres and won the men’s two-mile race at the Great North City Games. His achievements in 2011 have earned him the title of Athlete of the Year, awarded by the British Athletics Writers’ Association.
…currently unbeaten in eight fights…
British Boxer of the Year, Amir Khan, is another athlete to have enjoyed a successful year and is currently unbeaten in eight fights (potentially nine if he defeats Lamont Peterson on 11 December). In July of this year, Khan knocked out Zab Judah after five rounds, defying expectations that the five-time champion would stretch him. This has taken his overall record to 26 wins, 18 knockouts and just one defeat. The victory unified his light-welterweight titles and represented the pinnacle of a momentous year for the Bradford born boxer.
…a surge of success…
2011 has arguably been the best year of Andy Murray’s career. The Scot maintained incredible consistency throughout, making the semi-finals of each Grand Slam and going a step further to finish runner-up in the Australian Open in January. Murray is easily Britain’s no.1 male tennis player and accumulated five titles this year – at Queens, Cincinnati, Thailand, Japan and Shanghai. The last three in that list were won back-to-back, during a surge of success that propelled Murray to number three in the world. The only British tennis player in the top ten, Murray’s achievements in 2011 make him a reasonable contender for the award.
Images courtesy of Mark Cavendish, Alastair Cook, Mo Farah, Amir Khan and Andy Murray