Indeed 13 of the 16 nominees had come back from Rio with Olympic or Paralympic gold medals—some, like Mo Farah, Sarah Storey and Jason Kenny, had more than one.
In the end, it was Andy Murray, who won tennis Olympic gold for a second time, the Wimbledon Championships for a second time, and ended the year as No1 for the first time after winning the World Tour Finals for the first time, who claimed a record third SPOTY title.
The 2017 pool of headline-making champions reflects the absence of the Olympics, Football World Cup, Commonwealth Games, European Athletics Championships, and Rugby World Cup this year, while the World Athletics Championships yielded just one individual British gold medal—again from that pillar of British athletics, Mo Farah—and the Para-athletics Championships only one more, from Jonnie Peacock.
No surprise, then, that Sir Mo is among the field of 12 contenders for the award this year after claiming a third consecutive 10,000m gold in London, plus silver in the 5,000m. This is Farah’s sixth nomination in the last seven years, but his best result was third in 2011: He is surely a favourite to conclude his athletics careers with victory at last.
It is no surprise either that F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton makes his fifth appearance on the list after a record-making season that saw him win his fourth World Championship title—making him GB’s most successful ever F1 driver. Hamilton won the BBC award in 2014 after being runner-up in 2007 and 2008.
However, the absence of high-profile multi- and international events has allowed other individual sports and their champions to win a deserved place in the 2017 spotlight.
In addition to Farah and Lewis, the remaining 10 are in contention.
· Elise Christie, speed skating; won 1,000m, 1,500m and overall titles at World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, won bronze in the 3,000m, and named Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year.
· Chris Froome, cycling; won fourth Tour de France, was the first Briton to triumph in the Vuelta a Espana, becoming just the third rider to win the Tour-Vuelta double in same year. Also won two bronze medals at World Championships in September.
· Anthony Joshua, boxing; beat Wladimir Klitschko, watched by a post-war record 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, and defended his WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles.
· Harry Kane, football; Premier League’s top scorer for second successive season, winning the Golden Boot with 29 goals, and was also only English player shortlisted for Ballon d’Or.
· Johanna Konta, tennis; became first British woman to reach Wimbledon semis since Virginia Wade in 1978, won the Miami Premier—one of only four Premier Mandatory tournaments in the women’s calendar—and rose to No4 in the world.
· Jonnie Peacock, Para-athletics; won the T44 100m for his second world title at World Para-athletics Championships in London. The two-time Paralympic champion also became the first disabled contestant in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
· Adam Peaty, swimming; won two world titles in 50m and 100m breaststroke, and broke own world record twice in a day at World Aquatic Championships in Hungary. He now boasts the 10 fastest times in history in the 100m breaststroke.
· Jonathan Rea, motorcycling; first to win three successive World Superbike titles, and beat 15-year record for number of points scored in a season. His 16 wins in 2017 took career tally to 54, just five behind all-time record of Carl Fogarty.
· Anya Shrubsole, cricket; player of the match when England beat India to win women’s Cricket World Cup, taking five wickets in 19 balls as she claimed 6-46, the best bowling figures in a World Cup final.
· Bianca Walkden, taekwondo; won fourth successive global title with heavyweight gold at World Championships, becoming first British taekwondo fighter to win back-to-back world gold medals, and won Grand Prix in London, Moscow and Morocco.
The winner will be decided by public vote by phone of online during the live programme at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on 17 December.
Overseas Sports Personality of the Year (voted by public online (UK only) by 8 December, and winner announced on BBC Sport website ahead of live show)
Winner last year, Simone Biles, gymnast
· Tom Brady (American football)
· Roger Federer (tennis)
· Katie Ledecky (swimming)
· Tatyana McFadden (Para-athletics)
· Sally Pearson (athletics)
· Michael van Gerwen (darts)
Young Sports Personality of the Year (top three, chosen by expert panel, will be announced on Blue Peter on 7 December)
Winner last year, Ellie Robinson, paralympic swimmer
· Kare Adenegan (Para-athletics)
· Rhian Brewster (football)
· Ellie Downie (gymnastics)
· Sophie Ecclestone (cricket)
· Phil Foden (football)
· Ieuan James (canoeing)
· Millie Knight (Para-skiing)
· Marcus Smith (rugby union)
· Jess Stretton (Para-archery)
· Ben Woodburn (football)
Team of Year (selected by expert panel)
Winner last year, Leicester City
Coach of Year (selected by expert panel)
Winner last year, Leicester coach Claudio Ranieri
Helen Rollason Award for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity
Winner last year, Ben Smith – ran 401 marathons in 401 days for charity
Get Inspired Unsung Hero
Winner last year, Marcellus Baz, boxing club founder
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner last year, Michael Phelps, swimmer
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