Twelve of Britain's 2012 sports men and women battle it out on Sunday to see who will be crowned this year’s Sports Personality of the Year. The list was extended from the usual ten up to 12 following the multitude of stunning sporting feats in what has been a truly monumental year in British sport. We take a look at the 12 contenders and their odds of claiming the prestigious award.
Bradley Wiggins - Cycling
Bradley Wiggins remains the hot 3/10 favourite with Paddy Power following a record-breaking year in which he became the first Britain to ever win the Tour de France. Just 10 days after his historic victory he was back on his bike and storming to gold in the Olympic road time trial. Wiggins' engaging personality and iconic side burns make have engrossed a nation and he has been a beacon of hope in what has otherwise been a troublesome summer in the sport of cycling, following the shock doping scandal of Lance Armstrong. In truth it would come as no surprise if Wiggins became the third cyclist to win the award in the last five years, and it would be a huge upset if he failed to finish in the top three.
Mo Farah - Athletics
Outside of athletics little was known about Mo Farah before the London Olympics. However, that dramatically changed on a pulsating evening in the Olympic Stadium when Farah claimed gold in the 10,000m. Just a week later he stamped himself into the record books as a double Olympic champion after an incredible win in the 5,000m. His memorable celebration of the “Mobot” went viral with just about everyone impersonating the Olympic star and his iconic move. His infectious smile and down to earth down nature has been a hit with the British public and at 6/1 in the betting he is Wiggins’ main challenger.
Jessica Ennis - Athletics
The award was heavily criticised last year when the shortlist failed to include a single woman. The selectors have learnt from their grave mistake and now nearly half of the 12 contenders are female, with Golden Girl Jessica Ennis leading the way with tempting odds of 9/1. The heptathlete was the face of the summer’s Olympic games but managed to handle the overwhelming pressure impeccably, smashing three personal bests in the seven-disciplined event. Her roaring finish in the 800m meant that she secured gold in style, much to the jubilation of an overwhelmingly proud nation.
Andy Murray - Tennis
Andy Murray enjoyed another exceptional year on the tennis court. In July he came agonisingly close to winning Wimbledon but was eventually ousted by the phenomenal Roger Federer. However, his outpouring of emotion at the end changed many people’s opinion of him and he stormed back to avenge the defeat by beating Federer to Olympic gold, followed by a silver in the doubles just hours later.
In September Murray - at long last - got his hands on what he wanted most: a Grand Slam. The Scot beat rival Novak Djokovic in a thrilling US Open final, and in the process become the first British male to win a Slam since Fred Perry back in 1936. In nearly any other year the Scot would have been installed as the hot favourite for the award, however, 2012 has been no ordinary 12 months and he may have to settle for a top three finish instead, although at 14/1 he is definitely worth a punt.
David Weir - Athletics
David Weir was one of the superstars of the Paralympics after he claimed an exceptional four gold medals in the T54 category - winning the 800m, 1500m, 5,000m and marathon events. The variety of distances "WeirWolf" conquered highlights his versatility, with his glorious achievement spanning over nine days where he ate up 35.3 miles. Furthermore Weir also won his sixth London marathon and can be found at 40/1 to win SPOTY.
Ellie Simmonds - Swimming
The 50/1 priced Ellie Simmonds was another British sensation at the Paralympics, with the swimmer winning two golds, one silver and one bronze. At just 18 years of age she now has six Paralympics medals to her name, including four gold medals, and she is sure to go on and experience further success in the future. Simmonds won the Young Sports Personality of the Year back in 2008 and another summer of success combined with her utterly charming personality could see her win the major award this year.
Rory McIlroy - Golf
To many Rory McIlroy has replaced Tiger Woods as the face of golf. The Ulsterman won numerous plaudits for his majestic maiden major win at the US Open win in 2011 and proved it was no fluke by adding a second back in August at the PGA Championships. On top of that he was an integral part of Europe’s Ryder Cup team who conjured up an unbelievable fightback to beat America and retain the cup. The World No.1 has had another unbelievable year and can be backed at 80/1 to become the first golfer to win the award since Nick Faldo in 1989.
Chris Hoy - Cycling
Sir Chris Hoy cemented his status as an Olympic legend by adding two golds to his brimming collection of medals. The Scot is now officially Britain's greatest ever Olympian with six golds and one silver, with his immense power and ferocious speed propelling him to the very top echelons of track cycling. Hoy was a winner of the award in 2008 - following his exploits in Athens - but is unlikely to be one of the main contenders this time around. However, his popularity combined with his continuing success on the bike means he may prove to be a fruitful bet at 125/1.
Katherine Grainger - Rowing
Katherine Grainger's story is a compelling one. The rower had previously experienced the heartache of missing out on gold at the last three Olympics, instead having to settle for a still very impressive trio of silvers. The London Olympics offered her one more chance of golden glory and she took it with both hands. The 37-year-old's trademark grit and determination was in full show as she roared to victory alongside teammate Anna Watkins in the women's double sculls. Grainger’s summer success meant she became the first female British athlete to win a medal at four successive Olympics and she can be found at 200/1 in the betting.
Ben Ainslie - Sailing
Ben Ainslie's success in sailing spans decades, having won one silver followed by four consecutive Olympic gold medals, starting in Atlanta 1996 all the way through to London 2012. The nail-biting final race of the Finn class was a dramatic affair, with Ainslie edging out Denmark's Jonas Hogh-Christensen. His numerous achievements are often overshadowed by those athletes in the more popular Olympic sports of cycling and athletics, meaning that at 200/1 he is unlikely to get a look in. However, he is officially the greatest Olympic sailor the world has ever seen and his longevity and impact on the sport simply cannot be questioned.
Nicola Adams - Boxing
Nicola Adams captured the nation’s hearts in the summer courtesy of her impressive and ballsy displays in the boxing ring coupled with her energetic and bubbly personality. The flyweight memorably stamped her name in the history books as she became the first ever woman to win an Olympic boxing title after she beat rival Cancan Ren of China in front of an ecstatic home crowd at the ExCeL Arena. It was a significant moment in woman's boxing as it put it firmly on the map following years of unfair treatment and exclusion. Adams may be a long shot at 250/1 but this is definitely not the last we have seen of her.
Sarah Storey - Cycling
The electric Sarah Storey set the velodrome alight after she powered her way to an incredible four Paralympic gold medals in the sport of cycling. She now has an unbelievable 22 Paralympic medals to her name, including 16 in swimming and six in cycling. Half of those 22 medals are gold making her achievements even more impressive, with Paddy Power Bookmakers installing her as the 300/1 outsider to win the SPOTY award.
3/10 Bradley Wiggins
6/1 Mo Farah
9/1 Jessica Ennis
14/1 Andy Murray
40/1 David Weir
50/1 Ellie Simmonds
80/1 Rory McIlroy
125/1 Chris Hoy
200/1 Katherine Grainger
200/1 Ben Ainslie
250/1 Nicola Adams
300/1 Sarah Storey
Odds supplied by PaddyPower.com
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