Scot-free shortlist for BBC Sports Personality

Andy Murray capped a wonderful 2013 by winning the BBC vote, but there were no Scots nominated for this year's awards. Picture: PA
Andy Murray capped a wonderful 2013 by winning the BBC vote, but there were no Scots nominated for this year's awards. Picture: PA
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INAN ideal world, Charlie Flynn would have found himself ­double-booked on Sunday 14 December. But he isn’t. The popular boxer will be at the Thistle hotel in Glasgow, preparing for his maiden professional bout against a so-far unnamed opponent.

It promises to be quite a night in Glasgow. On the same evening, just over a mile across town, the increasingly glitzy BBC Sports Personality of the Year award ceremony is taking place at the SSE Hydro, the very venue where Flynn put in such a memorable performance to win lightweight boxing gold during this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

The nominees were ­announced last night. Flynn’s name is immediately conspicuous by its absence, as are the names of any other Scots, despite the reigning sports personality of the year holder Andy Murray describing the last 12 months as a “sensational year for sport in Scotland” in an accompanying press release yesterday.

The names were revealed live on the BBC’s One Show last night by 2012 winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, with Formula 1 world champion and Lewis Hamilton and Open champion Rory McIlroy immediately installed as ­favourites to win the award.

Josh Taylor, from Prestonpans, also does not feature, ­despite winning gold on the same evening as Flynn, in the light welterweight final.

Murray’s own absence is ­perhaps understandable, despite a late rally towards the end of a year. However, having finished third at this event in 2012 ­despite winning both the US Open and an Olympic gold medal, he raised the bar as high as he possibly could last year by taking the men’s singles crown at Wimbledon. As the first British man to do so in 77 years he effectively had no real rival.

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Far more notable is the ­absence of any of the Scots who performed so well in a significant year for sport in Scotland, specifically those who shone at the Commonwealth Games.

Not only is there no Flynn, there is no Lynsey Sharp, who rose from her sick bed to win silver in the 800m. There is no mention of Eilidh Child, who took silver in the 400m hurdles. While second clearly hasn’t been good enough in a successful year for British sport stars, Scottish swimming Commonwealth gold winners Ross Murdoch and Daniel Wallace are also excluded. There is also no mention of those who ­provided the Games with so many wonderful, ­colourful stories, including bowls champion Alex ­‘Tattie’ Marshall, whose preferred gesture of celebration – a Get it Right Up You arm pump – ­perhaps did not find favour with the judges.

The panel of “sports specialists” includes three sports ­editors of national newspapers and former award nominees, Denise Lewis, Rebecca Adlington and Tanni Grey-Thompson. Former footballer Jason Robert also ­provided input among ­others, as did the chair of sportscotland, Louise Martin.

Yesterday’s press release from the BBC promised a “Scottish flavour” to the event, in recognition of the city hosting such a star-studded bash. It is true: the very Scottish Simple Minds will be providing the entertainment alongside Nicola Benedetti and the BBC Scottish Symphony ­Orchestra. But on the short list that matters, a Scot there is not.

Instead, the world of football is represented by Welshman ­Gareth Bale, and given the significant part he played in his club, Real Madrid, winning the Champions League, club football’s ­premier competition, there can be few arguments there.

Carl Froch rather than Flynn will hope to gain the boxing vote while Jo Pavey, who won 10,000m gold medal at the 2014 European Championships in ­Zurich at the age of 40, ten months after giving birth to her second child, is flying the flag for veteran performers.

Dressage world champion Charlotte Dujardin is in the running, as is swimmer Adam Peaty, gymnast Max Whitlock. Lizzy Yarnold, who won Skeleton gold at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and visually impaired skier Kelly Gallacher and her guide Charlotte Evans, who together earned Britain a first ever gold at the Winter Paralympics, make up the ten nominees. The award has long since shed any ­pretence at rewarding those with a ­‘personality’ and rightly so, even if the BBC have confusingly kept the word in the title, thereby encouraging people to believe that contenders, as well as standing out for their sporting efforts, must also have a ­winning way about them.

Few now believe that being able to flash a genial smile should feature in the judging process since it is surely about straightforward sporting achievement.

It is, however, a bonus if such excellence is combined with an infectious personality. It wasn’t as if the Flynn phenomenon was only Scotland-wide, for ­example. His interview with the BBC’s John Inverdale, shown on network television, is a classic of its kind and features Flynn, who works for Royal Mail, coming out with the immortal “the mailman delivers... once again” line – among a number of others.

Of course, some of those mentioned above might yet be granted recognition, with Flynn, surely, in the running for the Young Sports Personality Award, since he only turned 21 earlier this month.

There are other awards up for grabs, including team and coach of the year. All will be revealed in the middle of next month on a busy night in Glasgow.

CONTENDERS AND ODDS

RORY McILROY (2-9) – McIlroy swept all before him in 2014, winning back-to-back majors at the Open and the US PGA and helping Great Britain retain the Ryder Cup. In addition, the Northern Ireland star won a world golf title and the BMW PGA title at Wentworth to cement his place as world number one.

LEWIS HAMILTON (3-1) – A two time runner-up in the Sports Personality voting, Hamilton got the better of his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to win his second Formula 1 title in dramatic fashion in Abu Dhabi at the weekend, as he looks to become the first motor racing winner since Damon Hill.

GARETH BALE (20-1) – Bale capped a superb first season at Real Madrid by scoring the second goal in extra time to help see off city rivals Atletico in the Champions League final in May. He finished his debut season with 22 goals.

JO PAVEY (30-1) – The indefatigable Pavey rose to the occasion in Zurich where she won the women’s 10,000metres to become the oldest female European champion in history at 40 years and 325 days – a statistic made more remarkable by the fact it came just ten months after giving birth to her second child.

CHARLOTTE DUJARDIN (50-1) - Unsatisfied with her double Olympic gold in 2012, Dujardin continued to conquer all before her on the dressage circuit as she scooped two gold medals and a silver at the European Dressage Championships in Herning, Denmark.

LIZZY YARNOLD (80-1) – Yarnold proved untouchable on the world skeleton circuit, finishing top of the rankings in the World Cup season before soaring to gold at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

CARL FROCH (100-1) – Froch starred in front of the biggest British boxing crowd since the Second World War at Wembley in May. More than 80,000 fans watched him clatter George Groves to an eighth round defeat to retain his world super-middleweight title in emphatic fashion.

KELLY GALLAGHER & CHARLOTTE EVANS (GUIDE) (100-1) – Northern Ireland skier Gallagher was crowned Great Britain’s first Winter Paralympic champion in Sochi in February after teaming up with Evans to take gold in the women’s visually impaired Super G.

ADAM PEATY (100/1) – Peaty won two golds at the Commonwealth Games before moving on to sweep the board at the European Championships in Berlin with four breaststroke and medley titles.

MAX WHITLOCK (100-1) – Gymnast Whitlock’s busy year began with three golds each at the European Championships and the Commonwealth Games before moving on to the World Championships where he defied injury to take a silver medal in the men’s all-around competition.

Odds: William Hill

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