ANDY Murray, Sir Chris Hoy and Katherine Grainger have been shortlisted for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in what promises to be the most closely-contested competition in the award’s 59-year history.
The Scottish tennis player, cyclist and rower, each of whom won gold during the London Olympics, are set to compete against the likes of Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and the favourite to lift the prestigious trophy, Bradley Wiggins, the first British winner of the Tour de France.
The 12-strong shortlist was
announced last night and, in contrast to last year’s all-male list, includes five women.
Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic heroes dominate the list. Golfer Rory McIlroy is the only one of the dozen names not to have won medals at London 2012 this summer.
Wiggins is the bookmakers’ favourite after his historic triumph in the Tour de France and gold in the Olympics time trial, ahead of Farah, double gold medallist in the 5,000 metres and 10,000m.
Murray, who became the first British man to win a grand slam singles title for 76 years when he triumphed in the US Open and also won an Olympic gold for good measure, is ranked third
favourite with the bookies ahead of Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis.
David Weir, the wheelchair athlete who won four golds in London, is ranked by the bookies as the leading Paralympian.
Yesterday, Barbara Slater, the director of BBC Sport who chaired the shortlisting panel, admitted that leaving out several names had been painful.
Ms Slater said: “We had already extended the shortlist for the main award this year from ten to 12, but at times we all wished it was nearer 15 or 20.
“It was very difficult to leave off Olympians and Paralympians of the calibre of Charlotte Dujardin, Alistair Brownlee, Jade Jones, Sophie Christiansen, Laura Trott, Jonnie Peacock, Jason Kenny and Victoria Pendleton, to name just a few.
“The panel also reflected long and hard on the heroics of stars from other sports such as [Ryder Cup golfer] Ian Poulter during the ‘Miracle of Medinah’, the continued brilliance of [boxer] Carl Froch and the ‘magnificent seven’ from champion jockey Richard Hughes. If we ever needed reminding just how special a sporting year it has been, then the list of those sports people who did not make the final 12 is testament to that.”
The expert panel included national newspaper sports editors and three former award nominees, Sir Steve Redgrave, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Denise Lewis.
The panel also selected the winners of the coach of the year, team of the year and overseas personality. The main award will be chosen by public vote and announced at the Sports Personality of the Year show from London’s ExCeL centre on 16 December.
said she believed young girls were being put off sport because of worries about the impact on their body shape and being too muscular.
In an interview with the Radio Times, she said: “It’s important that girls aren’t afraid of sport. I remember when I first started doing weight training, I didn’t want to be any good at it because I didn’t want to be all muscly.”
She added: “My coach sat me down and said that if I had more muscles than the average woman, but won an Olympic gold medal, it would be worth it.
“He was right, but it’s hard when you’re younger and want to look like everyone else.”