Anthony Joshua is the short priced favourite to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award and in addition to his sporting achievements in 2017 there is another reason why he will win the prize. His closest challengers for the honour are Lewis Hamilton and Chris Froome and they have declined the invitation to travel to Liverpool on a cold December Sunday night and will be absent from the ceremony at the Echo Arena. A prize giving would look stupid if there was no-one in attendance to receive the prize. John Motson could receive the Life Time Achievement award.
My tips for the other main awards are Roger Federer (Overseas), Phil Foden (Young) and England Junior Teams (Team) but AJ should pick up the main prize. In a non World Cup and Olympic year the cupboard has been quite bare. Wimbledon tennis and the Open golf did not produce any standout achievements from British players and Joshua is the unified heavyweight champion of the world. Even in the days of multiple belts and boxing bodies he is the best in the world and will be a worthy recipient of the BBC award.
BBC’s SPOTY ceremony was first held in 1954 and there has been a presentation every year since, usually in the middle of December. It was always held in London but in recent years it has been taken to the regions. Liverpool has its turn this year and Noel Gallagher will be opening and closing the show. He is Manchester through and through but loves the Beatles. There is speculation over the songs he will perform and it could be a Beatles hit or Don’t Look Back In Anger, the anthem for the Arena terrorist attack in his home city in May. My hunch is that he will cover all the bases.
Athletics accounts for 17 winners so is the most popular sport followed by Formula One and tennis. Only five footballers have won the award, followed by boxing and cricket representatives with four titles each. Athletics has 49 placings in the first three and the next most popular sport for recipients of the first three prizes is football with 20 placings. Rallying, carting and gymnastics have just a third place to their name and 24 sports in total have been honoured.
Andy Murray is the only three-times winners and the only other multiple recipients are Nigel Mansell, Henry Cooper and Damon Hill. Ian Botham, Daley Thompson and Sebastian Coe have won the title once and been placed on three other occasions. Steve Cram, Steven Redgrave, Tony McCoy, Lewis Hamilton and David Beckham are recipients who have also been placed in two other years. England has accounted for 139 of the 186 sporting stars who have finished in the first three.
Even though its called the sports personality of the year the recipient has generally produced the best performance in action. In 1988 snooker player Steve Davis was the winner when arguably the biggest sports personality of the year was Eddie The Eagle. He endeared himself to the British public at the Olympics in the 70m and 90m ski jumping. He was actually second last in both events but that spoils the story and anyway the public voted for Mister Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis instead.
Paul Gascoigne combined being a personality and elite sportsman and won the prize in 1990 after he cried at the Italia 90 World Cup. Ryan Giggs won the award in 2009 through longevity and McCoy for winning the Grand National the following year. Murray has won the prize three times in the last four years after a run of two cyclists receiving the honour. Joshua can become the first recipient for boxing since Joe Calzaghe in 2007, one of four Welsh people to win.
Joshua beat Wladimir Klitscho in the heavyweight unification fight in April and has since made a successful defence. Roger Federer won his eighth Wimbledon title in July. Phil Foden was the best player in the Under-17 World Cup that England won. The Under 20s also won their World Cup so it’s only fair both squads are honoured and John Motson is a legend. He has announced his retirement from commentating on football for over 40 years for the BBC.
It’s a show I’ve watched on television for many years and I’ll see it live for the first time in Liverpool on Sunday night but I don’t think I’ve received many votes for any of the awards!