Author: David Archer
Published: 11:43 12/11/2012
After his successes this summer in winning the Tour de France – the first Briton to do so – and an Olympic gold medal in the 44-kilometre time trial at Hampton Court, Bradley Wiggins has been indisputable favourite to lift the 2012 Sports Personality of the Year trophy.
Last year the London School of Economics reported an 11% increase in the number of cyclists, with 13 million Britons now cycling, and a contribution to the economy of £2.9 billion. Cycling events and initiatives such as Sky Ride boost the numbers of cyclists and the economic downturn may also make cycling financially expedient. But, practicalities aside, the adventures of Bradley Wiggins generates that feel good factor that stimulates interest in the sport. Wiggins has been firm favourite the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award with best odds of 6/5 some weeks ago from bookmaker Paddy Power but these odds did lengthen as the adverse publicity surrounding the doping disgrace of the formerly great Lance Armstrong seemed to taint the sport and hence Wiggins by association.
Last week, though, the odds swung back in Wiggo’s favour due to an unfortunate and painful collision with a van. He was hit when out training in Eccleston, near Chorley in Lancashire, and suffered broken ribs, cuts and bruises. After an overnight stay in hospital, Wiggins was discharged to continue his recuperation at home, having been forced to cancel promotional interviews for his new book, My Time, including an interview for the Graham Norton Show. Through www.teamsky.com he has now commented that “I’m looking forward to getting back on the bike soon and continuing my preparations for the 2013 season”. The crash has stimulated much discussion regarding road safety in general and, more specifically, great sympathy for Wiggins himself (despite his angry gesture and swearing to assertive members of the media awaiting his return from hospital outside Wiggin’s home, for which he later apologised).
His odds have now shortened to 8/13 from bookmaker Paddy Power, with his chances also boosted by the defeat of Andy Murray at the ATP World Tour Finals in London yesterday. Murray, who has also had an exceptional year – winning his first Major at the US Open in Flushing Meadows, and Olympic gold in the Men’s Singles – was beaten in straight sets by defending champion Roger Federer. This 7-6, 6-4 defeat takes a little of the gloss off his achievements and his odds have lengthened accordingly. A few weeks ago, Murray was offered at odds of 3/1 that he would win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award; now the best price is 7/1 from bookmaker BetFred.
In fact, Andy Murray has now been displaced as second favourite to win the award by Mo Farah, the UK’s finest ever distance runner. Bookmaker BoyleSports offers odds of 9/2 that Farah will win, in light of his astonishing tally of medals this year. Farah is reigning 5000 and 10000 metres Olympic champion, and the 5000 metres World and European champion. His compelling story of impoverished beginnings in war-torn Somalia to global athletic success, combined with his engaging personality and recent birth of his twin daughters, create a real feel-good factor for the British public to enjoy.
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012 will be broadcast live from Excel London on Sunday 16 December. In an unprecedented year of British sporting success, the 12 short-listed contenders will be joined by other sporting legends to celebrate their success. Bradley Wiggins remains the rock solid favourite to win but the show will also showcase the achievements of all contenders, in what has been a historic year of sports.