Friday, 19 October 2012

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012 Preview

Who would want to be the general public right now? Yes that’s right,the best of British sport will descend on London's ExCeL arena for this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year, after the golden year of sport we’ve had, how can you choose? Here’s a run-down of the major contenders to take the gong this year, and who I think has done enough to be the king or queen of British sport.

BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Jessica Ennis

The golden girl of Team GB, Jessica Ennis stole the hearts of the nation this summer after winning gold in the women's heptathlon at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The 26 year old from Sheffield dominated virtually every category she competed in, securing Great Britain’s first athletics gold in front of a packed home crowd. It was meant to be for the golden girl from the steel city.

Andy Murray

Possibly the favourite if the Olympics hadn't happened, Andy Murray banished a curse that has loomed large over British tennis for more than 70 years by beating Novak Djokovic in five thrilling sets to win the US Open. The Scot became the first British tennis player to win a grand slam since Fred Perry in 1936, whose last major tournament win ironically was the US Open. That wasn't it though for Murray who, before winning his first major, took to the grass courts of Wimbledon to grab a glorious gold medal for Team GB at this year’s Olympic Games.

Ben Ainslie

The final curtain call and his finest hour, Ben Ainslie called time on his illustrious career by winning a fourth gold medal in four consecutive Olympics. The 37 year old had to fight hard to retain his title though, overcoming fierce competition from Danish sailor Jonas Hogh-Christensen. The fourth and inevitably last gold medal makes him the greatest sailing Olympian of all time. 

Mo Farah

Arguably one of the biggest British athletics tales since Kelly Holmes in Athens 2004, Somalian born Mo Farah exceeded expectations to take double gold on the track at the Olympic stadium. Farah’s first gold came in the 10,000m final on what proved to be a ‘Super Saturday’ for British athletics. Seven day later, the 29 year old took his second gold after winning in the 5,000m final, capping off one of the finest achievements from this year’s games.

Bradley Wiggins

Never before has a cyclist won the Tour de France, an Olympic gold medal, and showed so much nonchalance in the process of winning them. Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France, doing so with such style and elegance. Two weeks later and he took Time Trial gold for Team GB, rounding off a sensational summer for 'Wiggo'.

David Weir

The poster boy for Paralympic sport; David Weir showed immense power, determination and spirit to take four gold medals in this year's Paralympic games. The British wheelchair racer conquered every field he competed in, including his last and most gruelling race, the Men’s Marathon.

Winner- Jessica Ennis

Why? Because she has been the poster girl for British sport ever since our Olympic campaign started all those years back. She has been at the top of female athletics, and in doing so, inspiring a generation. She dominated each and every event she appeared in this summer; crossing the finish line with her arms raised to the delight of her, 80,000 spectators and millions more glued to their television screens. Years of preparation and dedication came down to eight events and when her time came, she grasped it with both hands.  No wonder they call her the golden girl.
JESS BRILLIANT- An incredible display of athleticism, stamina and
fortitude, Ennis made a nation oh so very proud 
BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year

Usain Bolt

It was meant to be; lightning had to strike twice and boy did it. Possibly the most photographed and watched moment of the entire summer games, Usain Bolt had an audience of millions at his mercy as he swaggered onto the track at the Olympic stadium in Stratford. The world’s media covered the spectacle as one the tightest 100m finals in Olympic history, as Bolt faced training partner and fellow countryman John ‘The Beast’ Blake and American veteran Tyson Gay. The doubters doubted but for the second time in four years, Bolt blew them all away with an electrifying performance. 100m gold, shortly followed by a 200m gold and obliterating the 4x100m relay world record. A talent that only swings by once in a lifetime.

David Rudisha

The Kenyan middle distance runner not only became the Olympic and World champion, but ran the fastest 800m of all time. Five of the eight runners in the 800m final ran personal bests, but Rudisha blew away the competition in spectacular fashion. Breaking away from the pack, he saved all his energy for the home straight where he made history. London 2012 was graced by one of the greatest middle distance performances of all time.

Michael Phelps

An all American hero who stamped himself into Olympic history, Michael Phelps once again proved himself on the biggest stage of all. The 27 year old swimmer added to his huge collection of medals, winning four gold and two silvers at London 2012. Now retired as the Greatest Olympian of all time, Phelps has 18 gold medals from 22 events over three Olympic Games.

Missy Frankin

Just 17 years old, American swimmer Missy Frankin set the Aquatics Centre alight at this year’s London 2012 Games. Winning four gold and one silver, she has already equalled the record of one Michael Phelps. Her domination might be short lived though, as Frankin is weighting up her career options in either Marine Biology at College or to take to the world of professional swimming.

Felix Baumgartner

Arguable and debatable candidate but without a doubt one of the finest achievements to be accomplished by any athlete. On the 15th October 2012, Felix Baumgartner travelled 24 miles to the edge of space in a pressurised capsule. Elevated to the stratosphere by a helium balloon which was no thicker than a tenth of a sandwich bag, Baumgartner stepped out of the capsule to the view of Earth and the surrounding darkness of space. “I’m coming home” said the base-jumper as he released his grip, stepped off the podium and plummeted back down to Earth. Within 40 seconds, Felix hit 800mph, travelled faster than the speed of sound and smashed through the sound barrier. The first man to do this through obscene conditions, one slight rip of the suit and the base jumper would have freezed instantly. However he overcame the odds and landed back down safely without any major issues, smashing records and making history in the process.

Winner- Usain Bolt

Do I choose between the fastest man in the world or the fastest man in the world? A man who can run faster on ground without a lion snapping at his backside or a man who jumped from the edge of space without soiling himself? It’s a hard decision but I think it has to go to Bolt. For the past four years he has been doubted on a biblical scale. Questioned to whether he has the gut to come back stronger and to prove himself once more and retain his sprint titles, something no sprinter has ever done before. Baumgartner’s got balls, but Bolt’s got to be the king of speed. Well, I mean without jumping from the stratosphere anyway.

BRILLIANT BOLT- Usain striking his famous pose, as he successfully
defended his sprint titles at London 2012
BBC Sports Team of the Year

Chelsea Football Club

Roman Abramavich and his European dream finally came true last May, as his side went on to beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, stealing the trophy from the German’s own backyard. In the end it was left to Didier Drogba to seal the deal for the Blues, affectively being his last strike in a blue and white shirt. Roberto Di Matteo took over from the soggy ruins of Andre Villas Boas, steadied the ship and ended up taking Chelsea to a Champions League and FA Cup double. Simply marvellous.

Ryder Cup

From the depths of despair to the euphoria of the good old fashioned smash and grab. Europe looked dead and buried going into the last day of play at Medinah Country Club in Illinois but just as the US begin to celebrate what looked to be an emphatic victory, the European charged started. Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Paul Lawrie were just some of the big names that managed to make a sensational comeback to hand Europe the Ryder Cup as they beat the US 13 and a half points to 14 and a half.

British Cycling Team

The outstanding success achieved by Team GB was phenomenal. However the British Cycling Team for the second Olympic games running pulled off an unbelievable medal haul. The Velodrome witnessed some incredible scenes as cyclists like Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Laura Trott and Victoria Pendleton all managed to score gold for GB. Outside the Velodrome and Bradley Wiggins repeated his brilliant form from the Tour de France and replicated it in the Men’s Time Trial, scooping his fourth Olympic gold.

Winner-Ryder Cup

This summer of sport has been simply extraordinary. To pick a team that has done better than one another is like finding a needle in a haystack. However this year’s Ryder Cup team shocked the golfing world by snatching the Ryder Cup in such late fashion. British Golf in general has done a marvellous job for itself this year with Rory McIlroy winning his second major in two years, but the triumphant last-gasp display by the Team Europe was simply outstanding.

RY BELIEVE IN MIRACLES- Team Europe staged an incredible last day
comeback to win the Ryder Cup
BBC Sports Coach of the Year

David Brailsford

The heartbeat of Team GB’s cycling squad; David Brailsford is part of the reason to why the success rate was so high this summer. You could find this man track side shouting instructions and motivating his team. An inspirational man, as he led the British cycling team to numerous gold medals over the past three Olympic Games, making them the most decorated cycling squad in modern history.

Roberto Di Matteo

Having gone from earning promotion with West Brom to the Premier League to being Chelsea caretaker manager after the departure of Andre Villas Boas, no-one expected much from the inexperienced manager. He stabalised the team and took them to the Champions League final from nothing. They defeated German giants Bayern Munich on penalties, and then travelled to Wembley to beat Liverpool and win the FA Cup final. Needless to say Roman will be considering Roberto’s long term future at the club after this astonishing double.

Winner- David Brailsford

It’s got to be Brailsford right? The man is a living legend amongst British cycling. All the dedicated and strenuous hours have been paid off to an unbelievable scale. Gold’s have rained handsomely over Team GB’s cyclists, and huge portion of this comes down to Brailsford’s wit, knowledge and years of experience he has both on the track and on the road. A man who deserves more recognition than he gets.

THE HOLY BRAIL- The heartbeart of the Team GB's cycling squad,
Brailsford congratulates Laura Trott on winning the women's omnium
BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award

Fabrice Muamba

Any football fan remembers where they were the day when Fabrice Muamba had a cardiac arrest at White Hart Lane. I was in a pub watching England vs Ireland, the final Six Nations game of the tournament. It captiavated everyone, rendering everyone speechless and lost for words. The reactions to the spectators and players on the field painted a pain staking and dire situation. Luckily, despite his heart stopping for around 78 minutes, Muamba made a steady recovery and is alive to this very day. Retired from the incident, Muamba has campaigned and raised awareness for heart tests within professional sports to reassure this never happens again. An inspirational figure.

Mark Herzlich

I know what you’re thinking. Mark who? Mark Herzlich is an American football player who three years ago was told that he might not ever be able to walk again, let alone play football. At the height of NFL stardom, Mark experienced excruciating pains in his left leg. Consulting a doctor, he was given life changing information. He was diagnosed with an rare form of bone cancer and told that the chances of him walking properly ever again were very slim. Three years have gone by and where is Mark now? He is back playing Football for the New York Giants and last March, he and the Giants won the Superbowl. From rising talent to the depths of despair, Herzlich has overcome vast odds to come back and reach the pinnacle of his career. I guess whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. 

Kieran Behan

Kieran is an Irish gymnast who competed in this year’s London 2012 Olympic Games. He may look like you’re average gymnast but he was restricted to a wheel chair at the age of 10 after he was diagnosed with a benign tumour in his leg. The tumour was then removed and after 15 long and painful months in a wheelchair he returned to training and now at the age of 23, ha sbroken out on the international scene. He didn't make a significant impact at this year's Olympic games, but his story deserves all the credit and recognition it deserves.

Winner- Fabrice Muamba

The images at White Hart Lane will live long in the memory. Fabrice Muamba was effectively dead for more than an hour during the time between his collapse and admission to hospital. The fact his heart stopped beating meant that no blood was able to circulate through the brain, so the risk of permanent brain damage was high. Six months on and Muamba is alive and back to a ‘regular’ lifestyle, a truly fascinating and inspirational tale.

MIRACULOUS- An incredible story of survival and the support of
the human spirit, Muamba's incident at White Hart Lane brought the
world of football together.
BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award

Sarah Storey

A Paralympic tale that has spanned over twenty years, Sarah Storey began her career at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympic Games as a swimmer where she won two golds, three silver and one bronze. Four years later she won three golds, one silver and one bronze at the Atlanta Games. At the 2000 Sydney Games she scooped two silvers and one bronze then at the 2004 Olympiad at Athens, Storey won just a solitary bronze. In a need for a change, Sarah changed from Swimming to Cycling where she continued her Paralympic success story. She debuted as a cyclist at the Beijing Games in 2008 where she won two golds. Finally last summer at London 2012 Games, took her tally of gold medals into double figures as she scooped four golds, taking her overall tally to 11. She’ll be 38 years old by the time Rio rolls round but even at the grand age of 34, she is still hoping to defend her titles in 2016 at Rio.

Sir Chris Hoy

Sir Chris ‘the Power’ Hoy, a motivational character for any team. Sir Chris was given the prominent role of flying the flag for Team GB at the opening ceremony to last summer’s Games. Two weeks later, Hoy rounded off his career as Team GB’s golden legend. Two more gold medals to add to the four he already secured in his last two Olympics. Like Storey, he has made himself available for selection in 2016, regardless of the fact he’ll be 40 years old.

Winner- Sarah Storey

Domination in two sports over twenty years of competition, Sarah Storey’s story is one to be admired. 11 gold medals, 8 silver medals and 3 bronze medals from swimming and cycling is an unbelievable tally. She ]started her Paralympic career when she was 14 years old at Barcelona and even though her career isn’t officially over as of yet, her achievements and contribution to Paralympic sport is hard to beat. A true Great British heroine.

SUPER STOREY- 22 medals over 20 years, a remarkable accomplishment by
an incredible athlete.