2011 has been a wonderful year for British sport with the ten candidates nominated to be BBC Sports Personality of the Year encompassing everything that has been achieved. Golf, cricket, athletics, boxing, tennis and cycling are the sports these individuals have represented, meaning for the second straight year there are no footballers or rugby players included on the shortlist. Bookmakers currently have Mark Cavendish as the odds-on favourite to win the award but the nine other candidates will certainly have something to say about that.
Alastair Cook 50/1
England’s opening batsman has had a sensational year, his performance in the 2010/11 Ashes series saw him named player of the series after scoring an incredible 766 runs in five tests. He spent over 36 hours at the crease which included a score of 235 not out in Brisbane. Cook wasn’t finished with the Ashes though as he went on to score his highest score to date in the home series against India falling just six short of 300. In addition to this, Cook has taken on the role as One Day International captain and performed admirably, proving his critics wrong with a series of impressive displays.
Amir Khan 150/1
The Bolton boxer stunned everyone with his victory in five rounds over Zab Judah in Las Vegas in their light-welterweight unification bout. The dominance of the victory was astounding as Judah was tipped by many to push Khan all the way. However, the year has not ended well for the young boxer, as he lost on points to Lamont Peterson last week in controversial circumstances. Despite this setback Khan can be proud of a hugely successful 2011 and be positive going into 2012.
Andrew Strauss 100/1
Test cricket captain Andrew Strauss has overseen his side’s ascendency to the top of the world rankings. The Ashes victory followed by a resounding 4-0 whitewash over India this summer has thrilled English cricket fans across the world. England have not lost in nine test matches and with Strauss now only playing in the longer format of the game, he will look to regain his batting form which has not been up to its usual high standards over the past twelve months. The combination of Strauss and England coach Andy Flower has been particularly impressive.
Andy Murray 150/1
Britain’s number one tennis player has had his best year to date reaching, three Grand Slam semi finals and the Australian Open final. He succumbed in the three semi-finals to Rafael Nadal and an inspired Novak Djokovic edged out the Scot in Australia. As well as performing well in the marquee Grand Slam events, Murray secured another five tournament wins. Unfortunately, the Scot had to pull out of the season finale in London, which meant he slipped back below Roger Federer to number four in the world.
Dai Greene 100/1
The Welshman secured the first gold medal for Great Britain at the World Championship in South Korea with a scintillating performance in the 400m hurdles. Greene decided to become an athlete incredibly late at the age of seventeen and now at just 25 years old he holds, European, Commonwealth and World titles. If he adds the Olympic title in London next year he will join an illustrious list of just four other athletes to have won every major medal athletics has to offer.
Darren Clarke 4/1
Golfing legend Darren Clarke finally achieved greatness this year winning the Open, his maiden major title, by three shots at Royal St George. Clarke dedicated the emotional win to his late wife and, at the age of 42, Clarke ensured that Northern Ireland continued their impressive year in golf. What makes the achievement even more remarkable is that Clarke had not finished in the top ten of any major tournament for more than ten years.
Luke Donald 16/1
The world number one in the world of golf has had an astonishing year. His unbelievable consistency has seen Donald win the US and European money lists, earning almost £8 million. He has finished third in two majors this year and has the belief that his first major title is in the near future. To cap the wonderful year, Donald was awarded with the PGA Player of the Year award, the first Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1990 to win it
Mark Cavendish 2/5 fav.
The odds on favourite to win the award this year is cyclist Mark Cavendish who won five stages in this years Tour de France. Cavendish has now won 20 stages in his career, putting him sixth on the all time stage win list. He captured the green jersey which honours the best sprinter throughout the race and is seen as the pinnacle for sprint cyclists. Cavendish was not finished with his Tour de France accomplishments though, adding the world road racing title to his collection.
Mo Farah 12/1
Mo Farah has had an incredible 2011. He decided to relocate to America in order to train using better facilities and he has reaped the rewards. Farah won a silver medal in the 10,000m in the World Championships, just being beaten on the line by Ethiopian Ibrahim Jeilan. He quickly overcame the disappointment though to take the gold in the 5,000m just a few days later. His win in Daegu proved to everyone that he is one of the best long distance runners in the world and going into London 2012 Farah will be the favourite to win gold medals in both disciplines.
Rory McIlroy 10/1
The final candidate is the third golfer on the shortlist this year and another one from Northern Ireland. Rory McIlroy has had a rollercoaster year suffering huge disappointment going into the final round of the Masters with a four shot lead only to throw it away and finish way down the leaderboard. McIlroy showed great resolve though, winning the US Open by a spectacular eight shots and outplaying everyone in the field. At the youthful age of 22 McIlroy has a huge future ahead of him and the number of majors he wins could rival Tiger Woods.
Sports Personality of the Year takes place on Thursday 22nd December. Who do you think deserves to win the award? Have your say below.