It is one of the evenings that sports fans the country over look forward to around this time of the year. Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) has become an annual fixture in some many calendars, and, with a further 12 worthy nominees all in contention for the prestigious award, this year promises to be no different. A three part series of features attempting the impossible – to predict the candidates’ final positions – will conclude by previewing those might just make up the top four.
4. Chris Froome – Cycling
Now the issue with this award is perhaps the lack of a clear outline as to what an athlete requires to win it. Going off what the title suggests and many critics will argue that cyclist Chris Froome will struggle to finish even close to where he is predicted to end up. However, if the criteria is focused on sporting achievement, then fourth place would be incredibly harsh on the Kenyan-born athlete.
Having achieved so much in such a short period of time, it was always going to be difficult – if at all possible – for Froome to go a step further in 2017 than he had done before; but he has done just that and so much more.
The three-time nominee for SPOTY (6th in 2013 and 2015) dominated almost from start to finish to win a fourth Tour de France title as Team SKY’s lead rider, becoming only the third rider of all-time to win the Tour-Vuelta (a Espana) double in the same year in the process.
Further, whilst becoming the first Briton ever to win the Vuelta, the 32-year-old claimed bronze medals in both the individual and team time trial events at the World Championships in Bergen, Norway, and the Giro d’Italia remains the only Grand Tour still to allude him.
With no substantial evidence against him as of yet, it is hoped that developing ‘drug-taking’ allegation stories do not affect Froome’s chances on Sunday night. However, it is expected that they might do just that.
3. Jonnie Peacock – Para-athletics
Aiming to become the first ever Paralympian to win the Sports Personality of the Year award, Jonnie Peacock might just surprise a few with the position he finishes on Sunday evening, once the public have had their say.
Peacock stormed to the defence of his World Para-Athletics Championship gold medal in the T44 100m event in London in a time of 10.75 seconds back in July, before also claiming an impressive Diamond League victory in Birmingham some weeks later, having not trained for four weeks.
And, if this event is in fact influenced by personality, then that can only be a good thing for the English sprinter, who has become a household name having been the first ever para-contestant on the BBC’s very own Strictly Come Dancing show.
Whilst Tanni Grey-Thompson achieved a third-place finish on the show back in 2000, having led the way for her sport for so long, this country’s biggest name in para-athletics right now may well go one or two better at the ceremony hosted at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.
2. Sir Mo Farah – Athletics
An athlete of Sir Mo Farah’s standing needs little by way of an introduction. A ‘poster boy’ of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the distance runner has been nominated for SPOTY for the sixth-time this year, following one seventh-, three fourth-, and one third-place finishes since 2011.
Farah’s 2017 has been characterised by what most would see as yet more success. However, having come within seconds of a fifth major championships distance double in succession with a 5,000m silver medal back in August – having already won gold in the 10,000m – Sir Mo’s extraordinary standards were evidenced in full.
As Farah’s focus moved from the track and onto the roads following 5,000 success at the iconic Zurich Diamond League event which followed that World Championships in London, the 34-year-old rightfully received a knighthood for his services to athletics from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in November.
With popularity often playing at least some part in the awarding of SPOTY and in awards of a similar nature, Farah stands an excellent chance of going further than his previous high of third-place from 2011.
1. Lewis Hamilton – Formula 1
One of the leading names in world sport, Lewis Hamilton is naturally well positioned to challenge for the 2017 SPOTY award, due to the British public’s awareness of exactly who he is and – through means such as the mass media – what he has achieved both this year and in those previous.
Included in his remarkable achievements of 2017 was the clinching of a fourth world title ahead of main rival and Ferrari driver, Sebastian Vettel; a victory that saw him become Britain’s most successful Formula 1 driver of all-time, ahead of none other than Sir Jackie Stewart.
Hamilton’s 2017 feat also contributed to him becoming the third most successful driver in history, behind only the great Michael Schumacher (seven) and Argentine, Juan Manuel Fangio (five) in the title standings.
A winner of the award back in 2014 and a runner-up on two occasions (2007 and 2008), along with a fifth-place finish two years ago, if those statistics are anything to go by then do not be surprised if this superstar of the sporting world collects a second SPOTY trophy of his career on Sunday evening at the Echo Arena, Liverpool.
How to Watch:
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sport Website
Date: Sunday 17 December, 2017
Time: 18:45 GMT
Venue: Echo Arena, Liverpool