So there’s little over a couple of months left before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony. After a couple of pretty barren years for top level winners, no disrespect to AP McCoy and Ryan Giggs, 2011 could be a real vintage to choose from. I’ve identified 10 sporting stars who I think deserve to make the top ten…
ALASTAIR COOK: Famed for his flawed technique against the inswinging delivery and slow scoring rate, the last 12 months have transformed Cook into a world class batsman, rather than run-of-the-mill England opener. With 927 runs since January, including the marathon 294 against India at Edgbaston in August, Cook’s renaissance has been the foundation of England ascent to the top of the world.
MO FARAH: The Somalia born athlete has jumped ship to Portland, Oregon in the last couple of years and rejigged his training regime to compete with the best in the world. Not only is he now competing, but he’s regularly beating them too. Britain’s poster boy for the 2012 Olympics, Mo has destroyed all before him in 2011, smashing British records and taking home a World Championship Gold and Silver in a destructive display of middle distance genius at Daegu.
MARK CAVENDISH: I’ve voted for Mark the last two years to no avail. The Manx Missile is the best in the world at what he does. No exceptions. The illusive Green Jersey at the Tour de France was added to Cav’s wardrobe in 2011 before a brutal display in Copenhagen cemented his place in British cycling history by becoming our first World Champion in 46 years. Humble, gracious and ruthlessly determined, Cavendish has no equals in the sport
LUKE DONALD: Constantly contending with gripes that he’s not won a major, therefore is undeserving of his World Number One ranking, Donald has been a model of consistency in 2011. 4 victories, 4 second place finishes and another 19 top tens – the results speak for themselves. Donald’s ability with the short blade (he went 450 holes without 3 putting) have boosted his game remarkably and his rise to the top of the sport has been almost as impressive as his ability to stay there. With the demise of Tiger Woods, the sport’s unpredictability has been almost predictable (look at the major winners this year). Yet Donald’s ability to pound in performance after performance would make him a deserving winner.
CARL FROCH: Timing might be on Froch’s side for this award, with his Super-6 shootout against Andre Ward a week before the Salford Showcase. The super-middleweight unification bout would carry greater significance as Froch’s fights in the Super-6 have come away from blighty, in the USA and Denmark.
DAI GREENE: Greene is more than just a world champion. He is a world beater. The Welsh athlete has been the man every 400 metre hurdler has been chasing all season. Consistently on the Diamond League podium, the majestic nature Greene demonstrated in breezing towards Gold in Daegu oozed confidence and a subtle arrogance that all the best athletes possess. A certain candidate along with Idowu, Ennis and Farah to return from Stratford with another medal of the Gold variety draped around his neck.
RORY McILROY: The past 18 months have been spectacular for Northern Irish golf. Graham McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy all joining the pantheon of major winners. McIlroy has been the biggest breath of fresh air to the sport since some man called Eldrick back in 1996. His Masters capitulation aside, four record breaking rounds at the Congressional County Club showed a steely character and resilience that touched all in the sport. 14 top ten finishes to boot and the world number 3 is golf’s new superstar.
WAYNE ROONEY: A controversial pick perhaps but a footballer is always going to make the list because of its standing within the UK. Rooney’s form in 2011 has been mesmerising at times. Consecutive hat-tricks in the Premier League have been coupled with goals in an England shirt too. His maturity since throwing the toys out of the pram last October have helped Manchester United to a third consecutive Premier League title and third Champions League final in four years. And who’s goal kept United in that final?
TOBY FLOOD: Whilst I cannot predict the future, I think Flood might come good at the Rugby World Cup. He kicked England to a first Six Nations trophy in eight years and his attacking combination with Ben Youngs at half back for England have given the a nation belief after three years of disappointment since our surprising run to the 2007 World Cup final. Perhaps unlucky to lose his place to Wilkinson, Flood’s influence against Scotland could be the springboard to greater glory in the latter stages of the tournament.
DARREN CLARKE: Not a personal favourite but its hard to ignore the sentimental value Clarke will bring to this year’s awards. Leading the Open after the second round, Clarke’s coolness under pressure belittled his recent woes in the sport and provided justification after years of success had that familiarly majorless shadow cast over them. A more popular Open winner, I’d challenge you to find, his ‘personality’ could well make him a strong candidate to win the BBC gong.
Please note these aren’t the people who I think will get nominated or should get nominated, but a mix of the two.
Honourable mentions also to Alistair Brownlee, Fran Halsall, Amir Khan, Jenson Button, Stuart Broad & Bradley Wiggins.
Tuesday, 4th October 2011