By Thomas Dodd

  • 12 candidates for BBC Sports Personality of the Year nominated
  • Tennis player Andy Murray won award for the third time in 2016
  • 2017 event to take place in Liverpool on 17 December
Britwatch Sports runs through the nominations for this year’s Sports Personality of the year, looking at what they have achieved this year to earn the title, and what might hold them back in Liverpool a week on Sunday.

 

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Elise Christie – Speed Skating
Age: 27

Why she should win: After capturing the hearts of a nation in Sochi at 2014 when she was disqualified twice and picked up a penalty in her another event in Russia. This year saw the Briton sweep all before her, however, claiming the 1k, 1,500m and 3,000m titles at the World Championships.

Why she might not: Like her fellow 11 nominees, Christie’s inclusion on the list is well deserved, and three world titles in a season is a phenomenal achievement, but the lack of coverage speed skating received in 2017 (particularly in a non-Olympic year) will mean many will not have watched those title being claimed, taking away some of the effect and drama for the voting public.

 

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Mo Farah – Athletics
Age: 34

Why he should win: The distance runner claimed his third straight 10,000m world championship Gold in August, in the same stadium he had won his first Olympic title at London 2012. Off the track, the likeable athlete was also knighted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace for his sensational career on the track and the road (he has also won the Great North run for the last four years).

Why he might not: Strange though it might be to say, 2017 was a quieter year for Farah, with *just* the one gold medal won in London. Bad press so often has an impact on voting for Sports Personality, and following the reported doping scandal involving Farah’s former coach Alberto Salazar some place question marks over the Briton’s head. His SPOTY record is also patchy at best. Despite several nominations and more successful years, the man famous for the ‘Mobot’ celebration has never finished inside the top three.

 

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Chris Froome – Cycling
Age: 32

Why he should win: A fourth Tour de France, placing him just one behind the most successful record in the event’s history, is why Chris Froome should be Sports Personality of the Year. The Team Sky rider once again proved his incredible mettle by taking on the world’s best and coming out on top for the fourth time in five years to take his third successive yellow jersey in Paris. He also won the Vuelta Espana as well for good measure.

Why he might not: Froome wasn’t even nominated in 2016, as Team Sky underwent investigation for potential drug use during Bradley Wiggins’ 2012 Tour success. It’s not the first time ‘Wiggo’ has held ‘Froomey’ back either, and after the Londoner’s terrific show of charm and wit in 2012, many see Froome as a difficult second album and less personable, restricting him somewhat in the public vote.

 

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Lewis Hamilton – Formula 1
Age: 32

Why he should win: Hamilton joined the true greats of Formula 1 in 2017, claiming his fourth world drivers’ title to become Briton’s most successful racer in the sport. He also overtook the record of his hero Ayrton Senna for most pole positions and took on and beat biggest rival Sebastian Vettel, winning four successive races from August to October to claim the championship with two races left. Winning the British Grand Prix at Silverstone will aid his cause, too.

Why he might not: Loved on the track for his racing and blistering speed, Hamilton definitely divides opinion off it, with many seeing the Stevenage-born driver as arrogant and a whinger when things aren’t going his way. Formula 1 drivers do tend to perform well at SPOTY, though, and the 2014 is arguably a favourite for a second crown this time around.

 

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Anthony Joshua – Boxing
Age: 28

Why he should win: Back in April, the British fighter defeated Wladimir Klitschko in an 11th round stoppage at Wembley, with 90,000 people watching in the stadium and millions at home around the world. The bout will go down in the history as one of the best, as both gave everything to the very last moment. Joshua went on to defend his WBA and IBF title in October, despite suffering a broken nose two rounds into the fight.

Why he might not: Whether it’s because they tend to be one off events, Boxing does not normally find itself high up the list when it comes to the final SPOTY vote. Joshua’s fight was special, but some may also have forgotten given it took place earlier in the year. The sport does not have a great record either, with Joe Calzaghe’s 2007 victory the only notable success since the turn of the century.

 

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Harry Kane – Football
Age: 24

Why he might win: The Tottenham striker picked up his second straight Premier League Golden Boot award as he helped his team to finish runners-up to Chelsea. Individually too, he was nominated for the coveted Balon D’Or award and captained England for the majority of their World Cup Qualifying campaign, scoring a vital equaliser against Scotland to help England top the group.

Why he might not: Football is a team sport at the end of the day, and while Kane’s achievements in 2017 are impressive, the lack of silverware for his team may take something away from the opinion of those voting. Football can also be very divisive, so many non-Tottenham-supporting sports fans would probably choose to shy away from wanting to see the Spurs striker take to the podium at the end of the night.

 

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Johanna Konta – Tennis
Age: 26

Why she might win: Likeable, and a fighter on the court, Konta stepped up another level in 2017 after a strong 2016. She claimed her biggest title on Tour by winning the Miami Open in March and then gave the British public something to get seriously excited about in the absence of Andy Murray as she brilliantly battled her way to a Wimbledon semi-final. Konta became the first British woman to reach that stage since Virginia Wade in 1978.

Why she might not: Wimbledon can always be a pivot for voters. Arguably the biggest sporting event broadcast on free to air BBC TV means British success there will be watched and easily remembered for longer than other achievements. But Konta didn’t actually win at SW19, meaning her stellar performance is bettered by most on this list. The lack of a major trophy never aids a SPOTY contender.

 

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Jonnie Peacock – Para-Athletics
Age: 24

Why he might win: The British sprinter overcame cramp on the day of his 100m final to streak home and claim Gold at the World Championships in London. Off the track, he became Strictly Come Dancing’s first ever disabled contestant.

Why he might not: Despite defending his world title from Lyon four years earlier, Peacock’s chances of winning look slim simply because of the record his sport has in SPOTY votes. No Paralympian has ever won the award, and even Britain’s most famous disabled athlete Tanni-Grey Thompson was third in 2000. He would, however, be a most deserving first should he win the main prize a week on Sunday.

 

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Adam Peaty – Swimming
Age: 22

Why he might win: You know you’re doing well when the person’s World record you break is your own. Peaty did that, not once, but twice in one day at the world championship in Hungary in 2017. Needless to say, it helped him retain his 50m breaststroke title, and he also won the 100m in the same discipline for a second straight world’s as well. He now owns the top 10 fastest time in history over two lengths.

Why he might not: Not in an Olympic year means many won’t have watched his superb triumphs in Budapest and Peaty has achieved more in prior years and not performed as well when it comes to a public vote. Three previous nominations are yet to yield a top 10 finish in the eyes of the public.

 

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Jonathan Rea – Motorcycling
Age: 30

Why he might win: A third straight World Superbike title and a record points haul meant Rea claimed his crown after 21 of the 26 races in the season. He now has 54 wins, just five less than the all-time record holder Carl Fogarty. Rea also received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Why he might not: Racing on four wheels is watched far more than racing on two. Furthermore, the lack of terrestrial coverage means many would have not have seen the glorious march to another world title. Motorbike racers also have a patchy SPOTY history, and not since Barry Sheene in 1977 has someone from the sport made the top three. James Toseland was fourth in 2007.

 

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Anya Shrubsole – Cricket
Age: 25

Why she might win: Shrubsole took 6-46 in the final of the Women’s World Cup as he she helped her country to lift the title against India. Her efforts in consoling South Africa’s losing captain in the immediate aftermath of their semi-final clash also saw her become the first woman in history to win the Spirit of Cricket award.

Why she might not: Another one who could be held back by the fact she plays a team sport, and by the fact her discipline does appear on too many TV guides. Could well make an appearance on the stage as ‘Team of the Year’, though.

 

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Bianca Walkden – Taekwando
Age: 26

Why she might win: Another nominee who had a formidable year, Walkden claimed her fourth straight World title in June, and went on to add three Grand Prix victories on the circuit too. Her stunning year means she has now lost just once since taking Bronze in Rio in 2016.

Why she might not: Like Christie, Peacock and Peaty in this list, Walkden did not scoop a major Olympic prize in 2017, so is another one who will probably be caught by lack of viewing figures. Taekwondo is also a very niche sport when it comes to capturing public imagination, too, so acquiring votes on the night may be difficult.

The BBC TV Sports Personality of Year will take place in the Echo Arena, Liverpool on Sunday, 17 December.

 

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