Sunday night sees this year's showing of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards. I've just had a look at the BBC website and have to say that I'm particularly unimpressed by the shortlist:
Joe Calzaghe Age: 35 Nationality: Welsh Sport: Boxing
2007 highlight: Becoming undisputed world champion
Lewis Hamilton Age: 22 Nationality: English Sport: Formula One
2007 highlight: World titlerunner-up in rookie season
Ricky Hatton Age: 29 Nationality: English Sport: Boxing
2007 highlight: Las Vegas showdown v Floyd Mayweather
Andy Murray Age: 20 Nationality: Scottish Sport: Tennis
2007 highlight: Breaking into the world top 10
Christine Ohuruogu Age: 23 Nationality: English Sport: Athletics
2007 highlight: World 400m champion
Paula Radcliffe Age: 33 Nationality: English Sport: Athletics
2007 highlight: Mother of all wins
Jason Robinson Age: 33 Nationality: English Sport: Rugby union
2007 highlight: Helping England to Rugby World Cup final
Justin Rose Age: 27 Nationality: English Sport: Golf
2007 highlight: European Order of Merit winner
James Toseland Age: 27 Nationality: English Sport: Motorcycling
2007 highlight: Second World Superbikes title
Jonny WilkinsonAge: 27 Nationality: English Sport: Rugby union
2007 highlight: Helping England to Rugby World Cup final.
Now, I don't want to appear critical of any of the individuals on the list, all of whom are outstanding athletes in their own right. My complaint is more about the lack of depth in the nominations. For example, 2 English rugby players, members of a team which finished second in the world cup; a Scottish tennis player who has been injured for a large part of the year (but admittedly does have great potential); a motorcyclist who I have to admit I haven't heard of; a racing driver who finished 2nd in the world championship, despite looking odds on to win with 2 races left; a golfer who shows a lot of promise and won the European Order of Merit, but hasn't really made the big breakthrough yet; and 2 boxers, one of whom is fighting on Saturday night for a world title. And that only leaves the 2 athletes. I think Paula Radcliffe is great. Her New York marathon win was outstanding. I'm sure she would be the first to agree, however, that winning a New York marathon is not nearly the same as winning an Olympic title - with that in mind I really hope Paula wins the 2008 BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Which leaves Christine Ohuruogu. She won the 400m at the World Championships, only a month after completing a year long suspension for missing 3 drugs tests. She has been given a hammering in the press, who view her with great suspicion. But let look at the facts. The UK triathlete, Tim Don, committed the same offence and was given a 3 month ban. Like Ohuruogu, the BOA decided that on appeal they would not apply their lifetime Olympic ban because of the circumstances. There has been very little in the press about Tim Don, but a hell of a lot about Christine Ohurougu. I am completely against drugs in sport, but Ohurougu has never failed a drugs test - she did not comply with the drug testing procedures, and paid a heavy penalty.
At the end of the day, I think that Christine Ohurougu is the only one of the nominees who deserves to win the 2007 award. It will not happen, however. The British public, fueled by a hostile press, are not convinced by her. Unfortunately it will be awarded to a rookie motor racing driver who is a great prospect, but who couldn't quite hold his nerve to win the world championship when he was in pole position. The fact that his team were fined $100m during the season for cheating will be ignored. Hypocrisy or what?