After such a momentous year in British sport, anticipations were high as sixteen candidates contended for the Sports Personality of the Year award for 2016.
Sport is one of the greatest metaphors for life itself, if not the grandest one of all, for it fundamentally demonstrates the competitive nature inherent in all of us: our will to succeed in life, and the idea that believing in oneself is key to getting ahead. Sport has become a huge part of our lives, and it’s pretty much all around us. It’s therefore an institution we would naturally long to celebrate. Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) is perhaps the biggest expression of this longing. Ever since Christopher Chataway won the award back in 1954 for the first ever official ceremony, SPOTY has captured our imaginations and inspired us all to be the greatest we can be, sportsperson or not.
In December 2016, the 63rd presentation of SPOTY graced our screens, and in it sixteen nominees competed to be crowned the most inspiring of them all for their sporting achievements. Athletics has been the most common sport featured in SPOTY since it began, with forty nine appearances and seventeen first place wins. This year we had Mo Farah and Kadeena Cox (Cox also being nominated for cycling), for their outstanding performances and medal wins in the Rio Olympics. Gareth Bale and Jamie Vardy were in the starting line-up for football, and as well as Kadeena Cox, Laura and Jason Kenny and Dame Sarah Storey were all nominated for cycling.
Meanwhile, aiming for a hole-in-one was sole golf nominee Danny Willett, who has become only the second English golfer to win the Masters tournament. Other contenders included female boxer fight Nicola Adams; swimmer, Adam Peaty; equestrians Sophie Christiansen and Nick Skelton; gymnastics nominee Max Whitlock, who became the first ever British Olympic champion in gymnastics winning two gold medals within just two hours. Kate Richardson-Walsh represented hockey.
No one nominated for Sports Personality of the Year this year has ever won before, apart from one special Scotsman. Moreover, this man has won it twice before. And now he has added a third title to his achievements. In fact, tennis ace Andy Murray would have won SPOTY in three consecutive years running if it wasn’t for Lewis Hamilton driving to victory in 2014. Tennis genius Andy Murray won in 2013 for putting an end to Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s Wimbledon champion, and in 2015 for leading Britain to victory in the Davis Cup for the first time in 79 years. In 2016, not only has Murray won yet another Wimbledon title, he has also won our hearts by finally becoming ranked world number one in men’s tennis. And I think we can all agree with Murray when he says, “it has been an amazing year for British sport.”
Alistair Brownlee achieved second place this year, having won a second successive Olympic title in the men’s triathlon, therefore becoming the first competitor, male or female, in Olympic history to defend the triathlon title. It’s also the first ever time a triathlete has been nominated for an award in SPOTY, so it’s a much celebrated silver indeed.
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