BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012: Bradley Wiggins
Bradley Wiggins has fittingly won his last great race of 2012, being crowned the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, effectively marking him as Britain’s favourite champion of champions at the end of the most exhilarating 12 months in the nation’s sporting annals.
Pitted against a dazzling cast list of contenders, the quality of which had never before witnessed in the award’s 59-year history, the country judged that the cyclist’s amazing double of becoming Britain’s first Tour de France winner and Olympic time trial champion in the space of nine wonderful summer days merited the coveted accolade.
On a night when 16,000 piled into London’s Excel Arena to relive the glories of the Paralympics and Olympic summer, Wiggins won the public vote and was presented with the trophy by the Duchess of Cambridge, ahead of two other 2012 champions, runner-up Jessica Ennis and third- placed Andy Murray.
The evening was marred by angry reports on Twitter of voters unable to get through despite repeated attempts as phone lines became jammed. A BBC spokesman said: “We received over 1.5 million calls during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012 vote. We have had confirmation by the network operators that there were no reported problems with the telephone system.
“Any issues around not being able to get through to the telephone numbers may have resulted from temporary congestion caused by the unusual number of callers dialling the same number at the same time. Any issues should have been temporary and resolved by redialling soon after.”
Triumph for Wiggins completed a near-sweep of the prestigious annual awards by Britain’s Olympians and Paralympians, with the Team of the Year award going jointly to both teams and with Lord Coe, the man who delivered the most successful Games in history, being honoured with a lifetime achievement award.
As Wiggins himself had shrugged, this had been a year when any of the 12 shortlisted contenders would have been worthy winners, such was the magnitude of their achievements, and he was absolutely right.
“But I guess what will define the winner is, 'Who’s victory had the most impact on the country, who captured the nation’s heart’?” he had suggested in the build up to the show. “I guess all 12 of us did. So all will be revealed.” When all was revealed, it somehow felt that it really had been the 32-year-old Wiggins, a true original of Britain’s sporting life, who was being given the ultimate reward for most successfully capturing the nation’s heart, not just through strength of achievement but also through strength of personality.
As one of his fellow contenders, Sir Chris Hoy, had suggested, a London council estate kid going on to win the Tour de France champion rendered 'Wiggo’s’ performance the greatest achievement in British sports history. That was without mentioning the seven Olympic medals he has won; alongside Hoy’s haul, that is the best tally by any Briton.
Olympic fever was in the air all over again and to recognise “such extraordinary achievement” across so many sports, the awards voting panel, including former SPOTY nominees and experts in the media, even overrode their own judging criteria to ensure the Team of the Year award went to Britain’s entire 2012 Olympic and Paralympic squads.
Under the judging criteria, the panel were asked to vote “for the team in an individual sport or sporting discipline that has achieved the most notable performance in the calendar year. For the avoidance of doubt, this criteria excludes Team GB/Paralympics GB but includes the likes of British Cycling, Rowing Coxless Four and the European Ryder Cup team”. Ultimately, though, the 12-strong panel exercised their right to override the judging terms because they were unanimous that, after such an unprecedented year in which 65 Olympic and 120 Paralympic medals, including a combined total of 63 golds, were won by British competitors, there was a special case for all the British Olympians and Paralympians to be honoured. Sir Roger Bannister presented the award to a dozen of the champions.
Lord Coe was himself honoured for his contribution to British sport, recognised not just for one of the greatest careers in British athletics with his two Olympic golds but also for his triumph in delivering the greatest Olympics and Paralympics of all.
The Overseas Personality of the Year was won for a third time by Usain Bolt after his unprecedented successful defence of all three of his Olympic sprint crowns .
There could be no real doubt about the Coach of the Year either as Dave Brailsford, who, as both the performance director of British Cycling and the principal of Team Sky, orchestrated two of the great sporting tales of the summer.
Josef Craig, who was the most youthful of all the British gold medallists in 2012 at the age of just 15, was presented with the Young Sports Personality award by Tom Daley and Ian Thorpe to mark his achievement of breaking two world records in a day during the Paralympics. The youngster from Hebburn struck gold in the S7 400m freestyle.
There was an emotional ovation for another Paralympian Martine Wright, who was honoured with the Helen Rollason award for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity. Wright’s debut in the sitting volleyball team marked the culmination of an inspiring journey from being the victim of the 7/7 terrorist bombings, in which she lost both legs, to becoming an international athlete.