The run-up to this year’s event has been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the absence of any female sports stars on the shortlist of 10.
The shortlisting procedure itself, (the list of 10 contenders was put together by a panel of sports editors from national and regional newspapers and magazines) has been the subject of criticism, despite some notable female successes in individual and team events, including swimming, golf, martial arts, endurance events and cricket.
The winner, as always, will be decided by a public vote.
Ahead of this vote we wanted to run our own test on the appropriacy of the short-list, and so circulated a ‘medium list’ of twenty sports stars – male and female – to see who would attract the most votes should the nominees be extended.
Over 2000 people voted between Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th December 2011, and the results are as follows:
10. Sarah Stevenson (70 votes, 3.5%)
World Taekwondo champion Sarah Stevenson did not make the BBC shortlist and just squeezes into ours in 10th place.
9. Mo Farah (88 votes, 4.4%)
Mo Farah takes 9th spot for his gold in the 5,000m gold at the World Championships in Daegu – which followed his unlucky silver in the 10,000m just a few days beforehand.
8. Rory McIlroy (97 votes, 4.8%)
It was a procession at Congressional, as Rory McIlroy won golf’s US Open by eight shots – just a few weeks after capitulating at the previous major championship – the Masters – where he lost a four shot lead going into the final day. Aged just 22, McIlroy became the youngest US Open champion since 1923, and youngest first-time major winner since Tiger Woods in 1997.
7. Darren Clarke (102 votes, 5.0%)
Darren Clarke is one of the bookmakers favourites for the Award after winning his first major at the age of 42. Clarke was the first UK winner since 1999 and triumphed by three clear shots, He dedicated his Open victory to his sons Tyrone and Conor and his late wife Heather – who died in 2006 from breast cancer.
J5. Amir Khan (106 votes, 5.2%)
Khan recently lost a controversial points decision against Lamont Peterson in Washington DC, otherwise may have attracted more votes for defeating Zab Judah in five rounds in their light-welterweight unification fight in Las Vegas in July.
J5. Alistair Cook (106 votes, 5.2%)
Alistair Cook just batted and batted and batted and deservedly won the Man of the Series award Down Under for his 766 runs in 5 Ashes Tests. At one point he had batted for over 1000 minutes without dismissal. He also scored a massive 294 runs against India in one innings this summer – playing a key role in England’s march to the top of the test rankings.
4. Andy Murray (145 votes, 7.2%)
In such a competitive era in the men’s game, many people have recognised Andy Murray’s achievements in running Novak Djokovic close in the Australia Open final in January, before defeats to Nadal in the semi-finals of the three other majors. Prior to injury, Murray had risen to third in the world rankings.
3. Mark Cavendish (151 votes, 7.5%)
The ‘Manx Missile’ is the bookmaker’s favourite to win Sports Personality of the Year having won the green jersey points classification at this year’s Tour de France and having won the also won the world road race (the first Brit to do so in 46 years). Despite now having 20 stage wins on the Tour de France, of the 20 candidates on our ‘medium list’ Cavendish only just makes the podium.
2. Shane Williams (168 votes, 8.3%)
It might be argued that votes are being cast in recognition of an exceptional career rather than an exceptional year of achievement. That said, Wales’ most-capped winger starred in and scored the final try for the Barbarians in the recent test against Australia, and scored three tries in Wales’ thrilling run to the Rugby World Cup semi-final, where they were unlucky to be beaten by France. Dubbed by many as one of the most exciting rugby players of his generation, perhaps the omission of Shane Williams from the BBC’s shortlist of 10 is an oversight. Almost one in ten of our voters certainly think so.
1. Rebecca Adlington (534 votes, 26.4%)
The vast volume of votes cast for Rebecca suggests she has been a serious omission from the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist.
Moe than one in four votes were cast in favour of Olympic, European and Commonwealth champion Adlington, who added the World 800m freestyle title to her list of achievements in July 2011 (in addition to her silver in the 400m).
Only three from the BBC shortlist do not make our top 10:
- Golf’s World number one and PGA Player of the Year Luke Donald (69 votes, 3.4%).
- Ashes winner and England’s test-match cricket captain Andrew Strauss (61 votes, 3.0%)
- Gold-medal-winning 400m hurdler Dai Greene (28 votes, 1.4%).
Despite being on our ‘medium list’, there is no place in the Top 10 for the likes of marathon open-water swimmer Keri-Anne Payne, triathlete and triple world ironman champion Chrissie Wellington, or BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year Chaz Davies.
Note: voters were given a list of 20 men and women to vote from, including:
1. Rebecca Adlington
2. Chris Ashton
3. Mark Cavendish
4. Darren Clarke
5. Nathan Cleverly
6. Alistair Cook
7. Chaz Davies
8. Luke Donald
9. Mo Farah
10. Dai Greene
11. Amir Khan
12. Rory McIlroy
13. Andy Murray
14. Keri-Anne Payne
15. Kevin Sinfield
16. Sarah Stevenson
17. Andrew Strauss
18. Judd Trump
19. Chrissie Wellington
20. Shane Williams