Sports Personality of the Year 2012 candidates announced

After an incredible summer of sport, the prestigious Sports Personality of the Year award was going to be a tough competition. To reflect this the amount of contenders expanded from ten to twelve in order to accommodate so many summer successes.

Mo Farah came third in last year's award. Can he go one better this time around? Photo: Sue Kellerman (via Flickr)

The controversy about an all-male list has certainly been avoided, and only one name on the list didn’t compete in either the Olympic or Paralympic games.

Nicola Adams made history at the Olympics when she became the first female to win a gold medal in boxing. Adams had won a few medals at amateur championships but her achievements in London eclipsed that.

Sailor Ben Ainslie has been around a while and was another Olympian who was well-celebrated. He won gold at London 2012, making him the first sailor to win medals at five different Olympic Games. Ainslie, who has since retired, is notable in a sport which doesn’t often get recognised for this award.

In recent years, Jessica Ennis has come to close to winning Sports Personality of the Year. Sheffield-born Ennis won heptathlon gold in the summer, producing superb displays across the individual events and beating personal bests along the way. She exceeded expectations and performed well in the build-up to the Olympics. The likeable Ennis should be one of the favourites to win.

Mo Farah came third in last year’s award and deserves to be in with a shout again this year. Within a week, he won Olympic gold in the 10,000 metre and 5,000 metre competitions. He has had successes in championships in recent years leading up to the Olympics and, in the summer, he showed everyone what he is all about. Farah is a good bet to win the award.

Rowing’s Katherine Grainger won gold at the fourth attempt in the summer and it shows how far she’s come. Grainger has won medals at eight other major championships too. She may not be as well-known as other names, but she could be a dark horse.

Knighted in 2009 following his success in the Beijing Olympics, Sir Chris Hoy is a given for the list. The cyclist won Sports Personality of the Year in 2008, following the Beijing Olympics where he won three medals. Hoy won two in London in 2012 and set a new track record in the velodrome. He continues to be a superb athlete and should be in the top three at the very least.

He may not have stolen too many sporting headlines this summer but golfer Rory McIlroy was top of the world rankings in late November. The Ulsterman won the Dubai Championship, the US PGA Championship and was part of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team. 2012 has been one of his best years so he should in with a shout to win.

Andy Murray is without doubt one of the world’s best tennis players and being Britain’s number one is also deserved. The Scot came so close to being the first Brit to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry and played well in the final. He made up for it with Olympic gold and his efforts at Wimbledon suggests good progress. Murray could well be one of the top three names.

If swimmer Ellie Simmonds gets the prize, it would make her the youngest winner since Michael Owen in 1998. Simmonds competed in the 2008 Paralympics aged just 13 and won two golds, a silver and a bronze at London 2012. Swimmers are rarely recognised in this award but Team GB’s poster girl met expectations and could well finish in second or third.

In a year in which Great Britain took the cycling world by storm, Paralympian Sarah Storey makes the shortlist. Storey won four gold medals in the summer and won Team GB’s first medal in the individual C5 race. She won Paralympic gold for swimming too. As one of the Paralympics’ success stories, the cyclist looks a good bet to come in the top three.

Wheelchair athlete David Weir shot to fame this summer after winning four Olympic gold medals. Hailed by many as one of the best wheelchair athletes and as an inspirational figure, “Weirwolf” (as he is also known) has undoubtedly got a lot of support. He holds a number of British records and is a great ambassador for disability sport. Weir should challenge for the top prize.

Bradley Wiggins is tipped by so many to win the award already. The cyclist was the first Brit to win the Tour de France and followed it up with an Olympic gold soon after. He also won the Tour de Romandie in April after recovering from a dropped chain. This shows Wiggins can be successful no matter what and he too should be one of the favourites to win.

The winner of the Sports Personality of the Year Award will be announced on Sunday, December 16th.

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