Double delight for Andy Murray at BBC Sports Personality of the Year
Andy Murray is voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for the second time in three years
It has become one of the most iconic sporting competitions in the calendar, not least because the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year has been spotlighting the best that sport has to offer for over 60 years.
Its first recipient was Chris Chataway and its most recent Lewis Hamilton, and along the way it has taken in legendary names such as Bobby Moore, Sebastian Coe, Daley Thompson, Torville and Dean, David Beckham, Steve Redgrave, and Chris Hoy.
I dedicate my life to this sport, and I work extremely hard every day to make you proud
Many have gone on to receive knighthoods, some have Royal credentials—HRH Princess Anne and then her daughter Zara Phillips—but only a very select few have won the top award more than once, the likes of Henry Cooper and Nigel Mansell, and Andy Murray has now joined that elite set, as well as playing a rather large part in the team award, too.
It took Murray almost a decade after winning the Young Sports Personality Award in 2004 to win the overall title. Six times he was nominated, and then, amid so many gold medallists in 2012, his singles Olympic gold plus silver in mixed doubles earned him third place, despite also winning the first Grand Slam since Fred Perry in 1936 with the US Open title and making a run to his first Wimbledon final.
But come 2013, Murray did pick up the title—though he had to do so from his training camp in Miami—after claiming his nation’s most famous crown, Wimbledon itself.
Since then he has undergone back surgery, and bounced back to end 2015 at a career-high year-end ranking of No2 with a career-best 71 match-wins. He claimed two Masters titles, in Madrid and Montreal, made the finals of the Australian Open and the semis of the French Open and Wimbledon. But it has been his efforts in Davis Cup that have thrilled a nation.
By the time Murray lined up for the final in Ghent, amid heightened security across France and Belgium, he was on the verge of making tennis history, of leading Team GB to its first Davis Cup since before the Sports Personality Awards were even a glint in the BBC’s eye. Once again, British tennis had to look back to Fred Perry for its last winning of the biggest trophy in sport.
And though he is a team player of the first order, he would become just the third player to go 8-0 in singles rubbers and only the fourth to win 11 rubbers—singles and doubles—in a single year since the introduction of the World Group in 1981: a huge physical and mental achievement when every round comes within days of the biggest events in the sport, the Grand Slams and the World Tour Finals.
So momentous has been the achievement under the captaincy of Leon Smith—and the GB squad has gone from almost the lowest rung in Davis Cup competition to be ranked No1 in the world in the space of under five years—that the squad captured the BBC’s Team Award.
The competition for the individual title was particularly strong again this year, with F1 world champion Hamilton, two-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, and the first man to pull off a triple double in 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the World Athletics Championships, Mo Farah, among the competitors.
But Murray, who has engaged the British public not just with his work ethic, title-winning, and commitment to Davis Cup, but also with his charitable activities, his self-deprecating humour and his modesty, was the favourite, and sure enough, he joined that elite band of two-time champions.
Those very qualities were all on show in a brief but emotional speech, for Murray admitted that he had not expected to win and so had not prepared any words.
“A friend sent me a message the other day with an article saying: ‘Andy Murray is duller than a weekend in Worthing,’ which I thought was a bit harsh [with perfect comic timing and a smile]—on Worthing.
“This has been a five-year journey. We were down in the bottom level of tennis and now we’re No1… I dedicate my life to this sport, and I work extremely hard every day to make you proud.”
Judging from the glistening eyes of mother Judy Murray in the front row—who had already seen her son joined by his brother Jamie to receive the team award—she could not have been any prouder.
Second: Kevin Sinfield, Rugby League
Third: Jessica Ennis-Hill, Athletics
Lizzie Armitstead, Cycling
Lucy Bronze, Football
Mo Farah, Athletics
Chris Froome, Cycling
Tyson Fury, Boxing
Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1
Adam Peaty, Swimming
Greg Rutherford, Athletics
Max Whitlock, Gymnastics
Team of the Year
GB Davis Cup squad
Overseas Sports Personality of the Year
Dan Carter, Rugby World Cup-winning fly-half, was an integral part of the New Zealand team in October. The highest ever points scorer in Test rugby, he won the World Player of the Year award for a third time in 2015.
Carter beat Novak Djokovic, Katie Ledecky, Usain Bolt, Jordan Spieth and Serena Williams after the award was decided by a public vote for the first time.
Young Sports Personality of the Year
Ellie Downie, the 16-year-old gymnast, won bronze in the all-around at the European Championships to make her the first female gymnast to win an individual all-around medal for Great Britain. She also won team bronze at the World Championships in October.
The shortlist of 10 also included jockey Tom Marquand and Para-swimmer Tully Kearney.
Coach of the Year
Michael O’Neill, Northern Ireland football manager, helped his country end a 30-year absence from tournament football by sealing a spot at Euro 2016.
A P McCoy, 20-time champion jump jockey, retired this April after a record-breaking career. He was the first jockey to be crowned Sports Personality of the Year after winning the Grand National at the 15th attempt in 2010. He was champion jockey every year of a career that saw him overcome a succession of injuries, including twice puncturing his lungs. Previous Lifetime Achievement winners include Hoy, Coe, Beckham, and Redgrave as well as Pele, Bjorn Borg, and Seve Ballesteros.
Helen Rollason Award for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity
Bailey Matthews, eight years old, has cerebral palsy, but a video of him completing his first triathlon—swimming 100m, riding a bike for 4km and running for 1.3km—has been viewed 27 million times. Despite stumbling twice on his way to the finish line, he picked himself up and ran the final 20m of the course without his walking frame.
Sport’s Unsung Hero
Damien Lindsay, the West Belfast youth football coach, played a big role in his local community in his work with the St James Swifts Football Club.