The BBC Sports Personality of the Year show is looming fast and the shortlist for the night’s main prize is as strong as it has ever been. Here, Connor Whelan looks at the top contenders for the crown and declares who he thinks will win.
Read Connor’s thoughts - then get involved in the debate.
After a year of success for British sport, including record medal hauls for both the Olympic and Paralympic GB teams, we now head towards the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) award.
The grand event, to be held on Sunday, December 18, will show off the many triumphs achieved by British sportsmen and women throughout the year, with a talent-show styled public voting system deciding the winner of the main award at the end of the night.
With the past four Olympic years ending with an Olympian winning the BBC’s award, it is no surprise that the four of the top five bookies favourites all featured this summer in Rio.
Here are some of the contenders and their odds...
Andy Murray – Tennis, 1/9
The heavy favourite for the award, which is no surprise given the year the Scot has had. Appearances in the final of the Australian and French Open preceded Murray winning his second Wimbledon title and retaining his Olympic title in the space of just over one month. He went on to win the ATP World Tour on way to ending the year as the world No1. Having won the SPOTY award twice in the past three years, Andy is looking to become the first sports personality ever to win the award three times.
Alistair Brownlee – Triathlon, 9/1
The first ever triathlete nominee and one half of the world-beating Brownlee brothers, Alistair retained his Olympic triathlon gold medal becoming the first man to do so. However, the focus of Alistair’s year came when he helped carry his exhausted brother Jonny over the finish line in the final race of the Triathlon World Series, despite losing places in the process. This act alone will make him a fan favourite across the UK and could result in him winning the award outright.
Laura Kenny – Cycling, 25/1
Laura won two gold medals at the Olympics and a further two at the Track Cycling World Championships to cement her place as a favourite for the award. Trott, her maiden name, married fellow cyclist and nominee Jason Kenny in September this year. A win would result in her becoming the fourth different cyclist to win the award in the past eight years and the first female to win the award in nearly ten years.
Gareth Bale – Football, 33/1
Looking to become the first Welshman to win the award since fellow footballer Ryan Giggs in 2009, Bale has had a stand-out year after finally settling down to life in Madrid. Strong performances helped his side to lift the Champions League title and earned him a nomination for the Ballon d’Or and UEFA Best Player award. In an amazing Euro 2016 tournament, Bale scored three times as Wales vastly exceeded expectations in reaching the semi-finals.
Other nominees for the award feature Rio gold medallists Mo Farah (athletics, 33-1), Nick Skelton (equestrian, 66/1), Jason Kenny (cycling, 80/1), Max Whitlock (gymnastics, 100/1), Nicola Adams (boxing, 200/1), Adam Peaty (swimming, 200/1), Dame Sarah Storey (cyclist, 200/1), Sophie Christiansen (equestrian, 250/1), Kadeen Cox (athletics/cycling, 250/1) and Kate Richardson-Walsh (hockey, 250/1).
The last two nominees are Leicester City hero Jamie Vardy (football, 66/1) and the shock US Masters winner Danny Willett (golf, 250/1).
Out of this year’s nominees, I feel it is hard to look past Murray as the deserving winner of this award for this year. His extraordinary achievements have placed him head and shoulders above the rest of the nominees, with the odds reflecting this.
However, there are many variables the public may back to choose as their winner. The amazing underdog story of Vardy, the selfless act of Alistair Brownlee or the record-breaking Storey becoming the most decorated female Paralympian; this award may be closer, and throw up more surprises, then first originally predicted.
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