The 2014 Sports Personality of the Year award may not take centre stage until the 14th December in Glasgow but the list of contenders up for the prestigious award is hotting up nicely following another sizzling summer of sport.
It is safe to say that no England football players feature on that list following a dire World Cup which saw Roy Hodgson’s sorry troops exit the tournament after just two games, while last year’s winner, Andy Murray, is unlikely to retain his crown after a disappointing season to date, crashing out of Wimbledon at the Quarter Final stage and only a win at Flushing Meadows at the end of this month would see the Scot stand any chance of becoming the first person to retain the gong.
However, there is still a whole host of top calibre contenders in the mix for the coveted prize and below is an assessment of both the credentials and achievements of the top-5 in the betting.
Rory McIlroy (4/6 favourite)
World No.1 golfer Rory McIlroy has enjoyed a stunning 2014 to date, during which time he has won three high-profile tournaments. The Ulsterman began his winning streak in May – just days after breaking up with fiancée Caroline Wozniacki – when he won the European Tour’s flagship event: the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
A couple of months later McIlroy went on to enjoy two superb back-to-back wins. First up he stormed to victory at the Open Championship, which was immediately followed by a stellar success at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. The 25-year-old also recorded his highest ever finish as the Masters (T8), which remains the only major he has yet to win…for now. Up next is the USPGA Championship this weekend, and with the Ryder Cup still to come the 25-year-old still has the chance to cap off what has been a superb season. Even if he didn’t win another tournament, it would take some performance to overtake the clear and deserved favourite.
Lewis Hamilton (7/2)
Lewis Hamilton is currently embroiled in a thrilling Drivers’ Championship battle with his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, as he bids to win his second title as a Formula One driver. So far this season, the Englishman has recorded wins in Malaysia, Bahrain, China, Spain and England. Just 11 points separate the duo, in Rosberg’s favour, with eight races remaining, meaning F1 fans can expect some more enthralling action from now until the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.
Hamilton has twice finished runner-up at the SPOTY awards, in both 2007 and 2008. However, if he clinches his second Drivers’ Championship in November then he will surely give Rory McIlroy a run for his money.
Jonny Wilkinson (12/1)
Jonny Wilkinson pulled the curtains on a glorious career back in May, and what an ending it proved to be, with England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup hero bowing out after winning the Heineken Cup and the Top 14 with Toulon. The iconic 35-year-old has won a plethora of trophies during his career, but finishing the way he did was pretty special, even for him. Meanwhile Wilkinson won the SPOTY award 11 years ago after scoring the penalty that won England their first World Cup.
Claudia Fragapane (12/1)
Claudia Fragapane has stormed into SPOTY contention following her staggering performances at the Commonwealth Games, during which the ultra-talented 16-year-old won a whopping four gold medals! The 4ft 6inch “pocket rocket” finished top of the pile in the: individual floor event, individual all-round, vault and the team event, and in the process became the first English woman to win four gold medals at one Commonwealth Games. Next up? A quest for world domination.
Carl Froch (20/1)
Boxer Carl Froch swatted away the doubters in style back in May after beating fierce rival George Groves for the second time in six months. If the first fight ended controversially – the referee stopped the bout prematurely – the second was the oppositie, with “The Cobra” ruthlessly knocking out his younger compatriot in staggering style in the eighth round. Many thought that the younger, fresher, trash-talking Groves would prevail second time round, but Froch showcased his immense power and unrivaled determination with a clinical victory, with the man himself describing his final punch as the best in his career.