THREE out the past six favourites have failed to win on the big night, but Bradley Wiggins has been heavily backed to become the third cyclist in five years to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in London tomorrow.
Sir Chris Hoy topped the voting following his exploits at the 2008 Olympics and Mark Cavendish picked up the gong 12 months ago after sprinting to green jersey glory in the Tour de France.
Given that Wiggins enjoyed success in both events this year, securing the yellow jersey in the last-named event before bagging a time-trial gold medal at the London 2012 Games, it is easy to see why he is proving so popular with punters.
Coral have cut his odds from 1-3 to 2-7 after taking a monster bet of £20,000 in cash on the 32-year-old Team Sky rider, who heads the betting in front of heptathlon queen Jessica Ennis and dual long-distance Olympic champion Mo Farah.
William Hill also reported a bet of £10,000 at 1-3 in Yorkshire on Wiggins, and have also clipped his odds down to 2-7, but Hills spokesman Rupert Adam said: “The odds suggest that Bradley has got the Sports Personality sewn up but in recent years only half of our favourite have won.
“Jess, Mo and Andy [Murray] had extraordinary Olympics and you write them off at your peril.”
Punched her way into history by becoming the first woman ever to win an Olympic boxing gold medal, outclassing Chinese great Ren Cancan in the flyweight final in London.
Officially became the greatest Olympic sailor of all-time at London 2012, with a fourth gold and fifth career medal. His victory in the Finn class on home waters saw him overtake Denmark’s Paul Elvstrom.
Poster girl and face of the London Olympics, the heptathlete delivered gold with a winning tally of 6,995 points, which included clocking 12.54 seconds in the 100m hurdles, the fastest time in heptathlon history.
The first Briton ever to win a distance gold at an Olympics when he clinched the 10,000m title in London before digging deep again to add the 5,000m title to join a select band of greats to have completed the long-distance double.
A silver medallist at each of the previous three Olympic Games, the Scottish rower finally struck gold in London with Anna Watkins in the women’s double sculls. Also won all three World Cup events in the lead-up to London.
SIR CHRIS HOY
The Scot emerged from the London Games as Britain’s most successful Olympian of all time after claiming his fifth and sixth cycling golds. Won gold in the men’s team sprint, before a battling victory in the keirin took him past rowing great Sir Steve Redgrave’s five.
Romped to an eight-shot victory in the US PGA to collect his second major at Kiawah Island before claiming back-to-back PGA Tour wins en route to leading the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic in a year which saw the Ulsterman also become golf’s world No 1.
Reached the Wimbledon final where he lost to Roger Federer before avenging that defeat by beating the Swiss in the Olympic final. Then came the big one as the Scot beat reigning champion Novak Djokovic in the US Open final to become the first British man in 76 years to win a Grand Slam singles title.
Followed up double gold in Beijing with two more swimming titles and silver and bronze medals at the London Paralympics. The teenager smashed world records on her way to winning the S6 400m freestyle and the SM6 200m individual medley titles.
Completed the clean sweep at the London Paralympics, clinching cycling golds in the road time trial, 500m time trial, individual pursuit and road race to match the career total of 11 golds won by wheelchair racer Baroness Grey-Thompson and swimmer Dave Roberts.
A multiple Paralympic champion, the 33-year-old wheelchair racer won four golds at his home games this summer. Claimed the T54 5,000m and made successful defences of his 800m and 1,500m titles before winning marathon gold on the final day of competition.
The first Briton to win the Tour de France, riding in the yellow jersey for 1,282 miles of the three-week route, the Londoner followed up with gold in the Olympic time trial to take his haul of medals to seven in all. Also claimed victories at Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine.
Bradley Wiggins 2-7
Jessica Enni 6-1
Mo Farah 7-1
Andy Murray 16-1
David Weir 66-1
Ellie Simmonds 66-1
Rory McIlroy 100-1
Sir Chris Hoy 150-1
Ben Ainslie 150-1
Nicola Adams 200-1
Katherine Grainger 200-1
Sarah Storey 200-1
Odds source: Ladbrokes
PREVIOUS WINNERS ROLL OF HONOUR
2011: Mark Cavendish. Won five stages of Tour de France; first Brit to win the maillot vert.
2010: AP McCoy. Won Grand National on Don’t Push It.
2009: Ryan Giggs. Won tenth of 12 Premier League titles and the League Cup.
2008: Chris Hoy. Won three of his five gold medals at Beijing Olympics.
2007: Joe Calzaghe. Made 21st defence of WBO super middleweight title.
2006: Zara Phillips. Won individual gold and team silver at World Equestrian Games.
2005: Andrew Flintoff. England’s outstanding player in Ashes victory.
2004: Kelly Holmes. Won 800m and 1500m at Athens Olympic Games.
2003: Jonny Wilkinson. Kicked England’s last-gasp drop goal to win Rugby World Cup.
2002: Paula Radcliffe. Set world record for women’s marathon in Chicago.
2001: David Beckham. Captain inspired England to World Cup finals; won Premier League with Manchester United.
2000: Steve Redgrave. Won Olympic rowing gold in Sydney, one of five in total.
1999: Lennox Lewis. Defeated Evander Holyfield for WBC heavyweight crown.
1998: Michael Owen. Became England’s youngest player and goalscorer; memorable goal against Argentina in World Cup finals.
1997: Greg Rusedski. Reached US Open tennis final.
1996: Damon Hill. Formula One champion.
1995: Jonathan Edwards. Set world triple-jump record and won World Championship gold.
1994: Damon Hill. Runner-up in Formula One drivers championship.
1993: Linford Christie. First man to hold Olympic, European, World and Commonwealth 100m titles.
1992: Nigel Mansell. Won Formula One World Championship.
1991: Liz McColgan. World Championship 10,000m winner in Tokyo.
1990: Paul Gascoigne. Inspired England to reach 1990 World Cup semi-final.
1989: Nick Faldo. Won Masters title.
1988: Steve Davis. Won fifth of six world snooker titles.
1987: Fatima Whitbread. Javelin World Championship gold.
1986: Nigel Mansell. Runner-up in world Formula One championship
1985: Barry McGuigan. Beat Eusebio Pedroza for WBA featherweight crown.
1984: Torvill and Dean. Ice dancers awarded nine perfect sixes to take gold at Winter Olympics.
1983: Steve Cram. Won inaugural 1500m at World Championships
1982: Daley Thompson. Commonwealth and European decathlon champion, breaking world record twice
1981: Ian Botham. Series victory over Australia dubbed “Botham’s Ashes”.
1980: Robin Cousins. Figure skating gold at Winter Olympics.
1979: Sebastian Coe. Broke world record in 800m, 1500m and mile.
1978: Steve Ovett. Won European 1500m title in Prague.
1977: Virginia Wade. Wimbledon ladies singles champion.
1976: John Curry. Figure skating gold at Olympics, British, European and World championships
1975: David Steele. Scored over 250 runs to help England draw Ashes series.
1974: Brendan Foster. 5,000m gold at European Championships in Prague.
1973: Jackie Stewart. Won his third motor racing world title.
1972: Mary Peters. Pentathlete won GB’s only athletics gold at Munich Olympics.
1971: Princess Anne. Three-day event winner at Burghley.
1970: Henry Cooper. British, European and Commonwealth heavyweight champion.
1969: Ann Jones. Won Wimbledon ladies singles title.
1968: David Hemery. Smashed world record as he won 400m hurdles at Mexico Olympics.
1967: Henry Cooper. British & Commonwealth heavyweight champion.
1966: Bobby Moore. Captained England’s World Cup-winning team.
1965: Tommy Simpson. Cyclist became world road race champion.
1964: Mary Rand. Set world record in winning long-jump gold along with silver in pentathlon and 4x100 relay bronze at Tokyo Olympics.
1963: Dorothy Hyman. Commonwealth gold at 100yds and 220yds; European champion at 100m.
1962: Anita Lonsbrough. Three swimming golds at Commonwealth Games; one at European Championships.
1961: Stirling Moss. Racing driver was runner-up in world championship.
1960: David Broome. Show Jumping bronze medal at Rome Olympics.
1959: John Surtees. Won his second world motorcycling championship.
1958: Ian Black. Scottish swimmer won three European medals and Empire Games gold.
1957: Dai Rees. Winning Ryder Cup captain.
1956: Jim Laker. Took 19 wickets for 90 runs against Australia.
1955: Gordon Pirie. Distance runner beat Emil Zatopek and broke five world records.
1954: Chris Chataway. Broke 5,000m world record and won 3-mile gold at Commonwealth Games.