Few things have split opinion amongst the Label Sport writers this year like the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award. So here are six of the ten nominees who five writers believe should be picking up the award on Thursday December 22.
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If you would like to press the case for Dai Greene, Andrew Strauss, Luke Donald or Amir Khan, email email@example.com explaining in no more than 200 words why they should be BBC's Sports Personality of the Year.
A world champion and a Tour De France jersey holder. 2011 has been a year of success for Mark Cavendish, racing in the most prestigious endurance event in the world, The Tour de France, Mark won a gruelling 5 stages of the 2011 tour making him the first British cyclist to ever win the Green Jersey. A formidable accomplishment in the sport of cycling.
‘Cav’ as he is commonly known, is the first person to ever win the final stage three years in succession and his success hasn’t just be limited to the Tour de France. Cav has consistently replicated winning results throughout the year, winning 2 stages in the Tour of Britain, 2 stages of the Giro d’Italia along with the Final stage of the Tour of Oman and the Scheldeprijis Classic.
Cavendish regularly represents Team GB and in the build up to the Olympics looks in good form, winning the London-Surrey Cycle Classic and the triumphed spectacularly to win the UCI Road Race World Championships.
Darren Clarke, a gentleman and ‘People’s champion’. You will be hard-pressed to find a more beloved person in the golfing or indeed sport world.
The strength of Character he displayed in 2006 to help Europe to a Ryder Cup win shortly after the sad passing away of his wife Heather to cancer was a mark of the man.
Five years on and Clarke claimed his first Major, winning the British Open at the 20th time of asking. He joins only six other previous victors over the age of 40 and becomes one of only four players to record a sub-par total.
Even late pressure from the great Phil Mickelson could not tip Clarke off course. Clarke had played a near perfect tournament and nothing was going to begrudge him the trophy.
Darren Clarke’s achievement at his age is impressive, but the way he conducts himself and his glowing personality is what sets him apart and what makes him so adorned by his fans. He has been quoted as being very much a ‘Normal bloke’, likes a pint and plays golf with a smile on his face. SPOTY 2011 should go to golf’s ‘People’s Champion’ the magnetic Irishman Darren Clarke.
There is no doubt that Alastair Cook should be Sports Personality of the Year.
2011 for the Englands test vice captain has not only included Ashes victory in Australia (which included a man of the series award), but also series victories against Sri Lanka and the former world number one Test side India. The worlds best opener has scored 927 runs in the calendar year at an incredible average of 84.27 including a top score of 294 and including four centuries and two fifties.
Not satisfied with this mammoth number of runs, Cook has remained Englands most reliable catcher in the slips and taken over the one day captaincy. The increased responsibility has seen him score 600 runs at 46.15 this year in the shorter format, at a more than respectable strike rate of 93.16.
Cook has epitomised Englands rise to the top of Test cricket. Never satisfied with coming second, Cook has taken on and beaten the worlds best throughout the year and there can be no questioning that he has been Britains best sportsmen this year.
Britain cannot claim to host a vast array of world champions in the sport of athletics, yet Mo Farah capped off an incredible 2 year spell this year winning the 5,000m at this year’s World Championships in Daegu, bouncing back after only a matter of days after picking up a silver medal in the 10,000m, a discipline where he broke the European record by 6 seconds, and the British record by a staggering 32 seconds earlier in the season!
Over the past few years Mo has continued to improve; he won both the 5K and 10K at the European Championships in Barcelona in 2010, and this year decided to relocate to Oregan, USA to give him the best chance of succeeding on the World stage. He has done as such this year, picking up Europe’s first global long distance title since 1983, and as such earned the accolade of European Athlete of the year for 2011.
For such a historic, record breaking year, Mo Farah should win this year’s SPOTY for his endeavour to succeed, and the heart on the sleeve approach he has displayed in his successes this year.
British sport could learn much from both of these traits.
Put simply, Rory McIlroy is the most talented sportsman in Britain. He has the raw natural ability to take the sport into a new generation, furthering the boundaries laid by his idle Tiger Woods.
Many knew of this potential prior to this year but in 2011 McIlroy didn’t just announce himself to the golfing world, he set it alight. The boy became a man.
His US Open performance at Congressional was outstanding. He claimed his first major by eight shots and carded the best score in the tournament’s history. Watching it was awe-inspiring.
The performance made ever so more remarkable by the mental breakdown he suffered in the final round of the Masters at Augusta just two months before. The way he picked himself up from what surely was his most hardest sporting moment at the tender age of 22 can only be admired.
What people didn’t see about his victory, early the next morning when most would expect him to have been sleeping off his biggest hangover he was up committed to a sponsor’s event sharing his success with the next generation of the sport he is soon to dominate.
A sense of the man, a sense of the personality.
Some may say his nomination is a tad out of the blue, perhaps arguing along the lines that ‘he hasn’t won a Grand Slam’ or ‘he’s both started and ended the year as the world no. four, but for the 24 year old, this has been his most successful year to date.
He set the standard at the beginning of the season reaching his second consecutive Australian Open before beating his own lifetime best in Grand Slams making it to the semi finals of the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. His notable performances against Laurent Bramm (LUX) and Sebo Kiss (HUN) helped lead Great Britain to Davis Cup victory against Luxembourg and Hungary.
This year he has picked up five ATP World Tour singles titles including the Aegon Trophy at Queen’s Club this summer and the prestigious Shanghai Masters title. In October he then became doubles and singles champion at the Japan Open defeating Rafael Nadal in three tight sets before then going onto win the doubles title with his brother Jamie.
With 21 titles now to his name he surpasses both Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski’s own collection of career titles.
Injury at the World Tour Finals in London put an end to what would have been an extremely successful year for the 2004 Junior Sports Personality of the Year. With over $4,000,000 made in prize money this year, and strong performances in tournaments throughout the year, there is no doubt that Mr Murray should be recognised for his triumphant 2011.