Ten contenders stand a chance of winning the 60th BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
The shortlist was announced on Tuesday, with the 2013 award voted for by the public on the night of Sunday 15 December.
Ben Ainslie is the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. At his first ever Olympic Games Ben won an Olympic silver medal, which would be his last time coming second. Ben established himself as the world’s best after going on to win consecutive gold medals at the next four Olympic Games.
His career in sailing began at the age of eight with his family in Restronguet, Cornwall. By the age of sixteen Ben was Laser Radial World Champion. Then just nineteen years old Ben won his first Olympic silver medal in the Laser Class at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Four years later, again sailing the Laser, he achieved every athlete’s dream of Olympic gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. After Sydney, Ben switched from the Laser to the Finn Class.
The move to the Finn meant Ben had to increase his bodyweight by fifteen kilos to achieve the optimum weight for the class. His gruelling training programme paid off when he struck gold once again at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Ben secured qualification to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games by winning an unprecedented fifth world title, at the 2007 Finn Gold Cup in Melbourne, Australia. Despite falling ill days before his Olympic defence Ben showed his champion spirit and won his third consecutive Olympic gold medal.
At London 2012 Ben made history on the waters of Weymouth securing his fourth consecutive gold in front of a home crowd. This cemented his position as not only as Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor of all time but also the most successful Olympic sailor in history.
Following his historic Olympic achievement, Ben had the honour of being nominated as Team GB’s flag bearer for the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony – ‘a really proud moment’ for Ben.
Days later, Ben headed to San Francisco to compete in the America’s Cup World Series with his team Ben Ainslie Racing. His long term sponsor J.P.Morgan joined as title sponsor for the team to compete in the 2012-13 World Series.
In January 2013 Ben was Knighted, as day he describes as ‘the proudest moment of my career’.
The newly formed team, J.P.Morgan BAR competed in the 2012/13 World Series. In 2012 Ben joined America’s Cup defenders ORACLE TEAM USA to defend the 34th America’s Cup on the waters of San Francisco.
In September 2013, Ben has fulfilled a one of his childhood dreams by winning the America’s Cup sailing onboard ORACLE TEAM USA. In one of the biggest comebacks in sporting history, the defenders ORACLE TEAM USA, fought back against the odds to win the 34th America’s Cup 9-8 in a winner takes all race against the challenger Emirates Team New Zealand.
Ben Ainslie Racing has a long term aim to be a competitive challenger for the 35th America’s Cup as Ben aims to win the oldest trophy in sport and bring the Cup back to Britain where it all began over 160 years ago.
“Whatever happens next, I learnt so much from this experience; as a helmsman, steering Oracle’s B boat; as a tactician, a role I had never performed before but which has given me invaluable insight; and as a regular team member, watching what goes on behind the scenes of an enormous America’s Cup operation. I hope that in the coming years that experience will bear fruit.”
“Now it is time to look ahead to my next challenge – the ultimate challenge – to bring the cup back to British waters for the first time in something like 165 years.
Once described by Dayle Hadlee as the best 16-year old he had ever seen, Ian Bell had been earmarked for greatness long before he was drafted onto the England tour of New Zealand in 2001-02, as cover for the injured Mark Butcher.
Technically sound, Bell is a top-order batsman very much in the mould of Michael Atherton, who was burdened with similar expectations when he made his England debut a generation ago. Unlike Atherton, who invariably produced his best when his back was firmly against the wall, Bell’s most fluent early efforts tended to come about in a pressure vacuum, a trait that belied an average hovering around the 40 mark, and a record of a century every five or so Tests.
However, on the tour of South Africa in 2009-10, Bell set about changing those perceptions. A perfectly paced century while batting at No. 6 in Durban set England up for an innings victory that ranked, at the time, among their finest overseas performances for a generation, but he surpassed that effort in the very next Test in Cape Town, with a backs-to-the-wall 78 that saved the match and ensured a share of the series. On the subsequent tour of Australia, he continued to save his best for when the chips were down, particularly during England’s first-innings struggles at Brisbane and Perth. He finished the tour on a high with his maiden Ashes hundred at Sydney, and a reputation transformed.
When in form, Bell has always been adept at leaving the ball outside off stump, and he received glowing reviews from coaches at every stage of his development, not least from Rod Marsh at the England Academy, a man not given to hyperbole. A former England U19 captain, Bell had played just 13 first-class games when called into the England squad, though in 2001 he scored 836 runs for Warwickshire at an average of over 64, including three centuries.
He didn’t immediately translate that success and talent into runs at the international stage – he was found out by Australia’s champions, McGrath and Warne, he mustered just 171 runs in ten innings – but he gradually found his feet and his form at the top level. In 2010 and 2011, he averaged more than 65 in five successive series, including the 2010-11 Ashes. But obviously that run wasn’t going to last forever: he was brought back to earth by Pakistan’s offspinner Saaed Ajmal in the three-Test series in 2012, managing only 51 runs in six innings.
The year was a largely forgettable one in Tests, for Bell and England, though pride was salvaged in India. A first series win in the country since 1984-85 was sealed in Nagpur, where Bell’s second-innings hundred made certain of the requisite draw. A reminder of Bell’s class came in 50-over cricket, where he made an immaculate transition to opener. That continued into 2013, with his third ODI hundred in lofty Dharamsala, although England were eventually thwarted in their attempts to win global silverware in the Champions Trophy final.
His reputation for producing when England needed him was then further burnished by back-to-back hundreds in the first two Tests against Australia, making him the first man to reach triple figures in three successive Ashes Tests since Chris Broad in 1986.
Hannah was introduced to Dr Ian Thompson, husband of Baroness Tanni Grey- Thompson, who gave her, her first taste of wheelchair racing and as they say, the rest is history.
Ian coached Hannah for the first year of her career, guiding Hannah onto the Great Britain Paralympic development team. Hannah moved up the team and onto a new coach, Peter Eriksson. Eriksson is regarded one of the top wheelchair racing coaches in the world, having taken his athletes to over 119 world and Paralympic medals. With this experience, in three years he took Hannah from novice to elite in the Paralympic world. In 2010, Hannah broke her first world record in the T34 400m.
She now holds 21 world records over the T34 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m. In June that year, She then broke 7 world records in 8 days, at the same time as becoming prom Queen, completing my a-level exams and competing in my first international, overseas competition. In 2011, Hannah was selected for the IPC World Athletics Championships in New Zealand. In her senior debut on the Great Britain team she brought home two gold medals and ‘Hurricane Hannah’ was born. This then made her a solid contender on the start line of the 2012 London Paralympic Games. Although it was her first games, the pressure was wasted on Hannah and the nation’s ‘sweetheart’ thundered into the record books, bringing home double gold and breaking four Paralympic records in the T34 100m and 200m. Following this victory, Hannah was named on the Queens New Years Honours list in 2013 and I am soon to receive an MBE, She also received the freedom of Calderdale upon her return from the games.
Mo Farah is double Olympic & double World champion and the UK’s greatest ever distance runner – a far cry from his humble beginnings in Somalia, arriving in London from Mogadishu at the age of 8 and speaking very little English.
He grew up in West London and began running at school when spotted by his PE Teacher. Mo was a very successful junior athlete winning the European Junior 5000m title in 2001. His major breakthrough on the senior stage came in 2006 when he won a silver medal in the 5000m in the European T&F Championships and later in the year won the European Cross Country Championships. At global level he went on to place a creditable 6th in the 2007 World T&F Championships and 7th in the 2009 World T&F Championships.
Mo’s career took another step forward in 2010 with a 5000m & 10,000m golden double at the European T&F Championships and one week later became the first British man to run sub 13 minutes for the 5000m with a National Record time of 12:57.94. 2011 was a dream season for the popular 28 year old as he became the first British man to win the 5000m in the World T&F Championships a few days after winning the silver medal in the 10,000m. He smashed the European 10,000m Record with a time of 26:46.57 and improved the British 5000m Record to 12:53.11.
On the 4th August 2012, Farah created history at the London Olympic Games. In his first race Mo capped off ‘Super Saturday’ by winning the 10,000m gold in a time of 27:30.42. This was Great Britain’s first ever Olympic gold medal in the 10,000m and came after two other gold medals for Great Britain in the same athletics session. A week later on the 11th August 2012, Mo completed the hardest track double of them all by winning the 5,000m in a time of 13:41.66. Farah now joins just 5 people (Zatopek, Kuts, Viren, Yifter, Bekele) in the history of the Olympic Games to win the 5k/10k double and the only athlete to do it on home soil. To finish off an amazing 2012 Mo’s wife Tania gave birth to twin daughters Aisha and Amani who Mo dedicated each of his gold medals to.
Chris Froome, born in Nairobi on the 20th of May 1985, is a professional cyclist who rides for UCI ProTour team, Team Sky.
Froome’s journey into road cycling started when he moved to South Africa for schooling as a teenager. However, back home in Kenya he had only ever ridden a mountain bike, guided into the sport by The Safari Simbaz founder David Kinjah. Kinjah was an inspiration to Froome and training together in the rural highlands north of Nairobi is what ignited the passion for cycling which Froome has today.
When Froome began his career he was registered with the Kenyan cycling federation but since the spring of 2008, has ridden under a British license, having been born of British descent.
As a neo-pro based in Italy in 2008, Team Barloworld gave Froome his first taste of top echelon road cycling in the prestigious classics of Paris-Roubaix, Fleche-Wallone, Amstel Gold and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He described this as an “eye-opening experience”. “It was a surreal feeling to be riding events I’d only ever seen on TV, alongside riders I’d only read about in magazines”.
In July 2008, Froome found himself lining up for the Tour de France despite having lost his mother to illness only weeks earlier. He completed the Tour, showing a lot of promise in the mountains and time trials, and even went on to podium in Italy at the Giro d’Appennino shortly afterwards.
Joining Team Sky in 2010, Froome was described by the team’s management as “a rough diamond, in need of shaping and polishing”. Being coached and mentored by Bobby Julich (an ex Tour de France contender himself), Froome had his first major breakthrough during the 2011 Vuelta a España where he finished second overall. This equalled Robert Millar’s second place in the 1987 Giro d’Italia as the highest placed British rider in a Grand Tour.
Leigh Halfpenny is one of the most talented and successful players of the modern era with his prolific boot and game-breaking ability having proved pivotal for Wales and the British & Irish Lions.
Halfpenny established himself as a major talent at age-grade level before making a sensational start to his regional rugby career with seven tries in his first six starts for the Cardiff-based Blues. His try-scoring feats led to a call-up into Wales’ senior squad for the 2008 autumn internationals as a winger and he made his Test bow as a 19-year-old against world champions South Africa at the Millennium Stadium. He retained his place for the following match with Canada, scoring two tries, and was also in action as Wales slipped to a defeat at the hands of the All Blacks.
Selection for the British & Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa followed in 2009 but he had to return home early due to the recurrence of a thigh injury without featuring in the Tests. Injuries would continue to plague the versatile Halfpenny but he retained the faith of Wales coach Warren Gatland and claimed a place in his plans for the 2011 World Cup.
He played a key part in their campaign scoring against Fiji and starting their quarter-final against Ireland having switched to the fullback role. He featured against France in the semi-finals but was unable to prevent them from crashing out.
Halfpenny entered the 2012 Six Nations as Wales’ first choice fullback and provided 66 points as they swept the Grand Slam. He was central to proceeding again the following year as they made it back-to-back Six Nations titles and his outstanding form was rewarded with the Player of the Championship honour.
Further recognition would follow with selection for the Lions’ tour to Australia in the summer of 2013. An ever-present during a thrilling Test series with the Wallabies, his kicking was crucial to the Lions’ first Test victory but he saw a last-gasp penalty to win the second clash fall agonisingly short of the posts.
However, he shrugged off the disappointment to steer the Lions to victory in the decider and a first series victory since 1997. His 21-point haul – he also had a hand in creating tries for Jonathan Sexton and George North – was a Lions Test record, while his 49 points in the series beat his goal-kicking mentor Neil Jenkins’ previous best of 41, set in 1997. His efforts in Sydney were rewarded with the Man of the Match honour and he would later be named the Player of the Series.
Anthony Peter McCoy OBE (born 4 May 1974), commonly known as A. P. McCoy or Tony McCoy, is an Irish horse racing jockey who is based in England.
McCoy recorded his first win in 1992 at just 17 years of age. On 7th November 2013 McCoy rode his 4,000th winner, riding Mountain Tunes to victory at Towcester. McCoy has been Champion Jockey every year he has been professional. Even in his first season riding in Britain, as an apprentice for now retired trainer Toby Balding, McCoy won the Conditional Jump Jockeys Title with a record 74 winners for a conditional jockey. McCoy claimed his first Champion Jockey title in 1995/6 and, as of 2012/2013, has won 18 consecutive Champion Jockey titles, beating the previous record of 7 consecutive titles by Peter Scudamore.
McCoy is considered the perennial champion jockey and is often referred to as simply ‘the Champ’ or his initials ‘AP’ by weighing room colleagues, punters, commentators and racing journalists alike.
McCoy has won almost every big race there is to win. His most high profile winners include the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, King George VI Chase and the 2010 Grand National, riding Don’t Push It.
McCoy has had a number of injuries since becoming a jump jockey, one of the many occupational hazards that comes with race riding. McCoy has broken or dislocated almost every bone in his body (some of them multiple times), including middle and lower vertebrae, both shoulder blades, ribs, an ankle, cheekbones, a wrist, a leg, collar bone, fingers and teeth.
McCoy was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2010, becoming the first jockey to win the award
Andy Murray, currently ranked number 4 in the world, is the British No.1 and reigning Wimbledon, US Open and Olympic Singles Champion.
From winning his first tournament as an under-10 junior at the Dunblane Sports Club to his first junior major at the US Open it became apparent Andy was destined for the top.
After turning pro in 2005, Andy won his first ATP title, the SAP open in San Jose, a year later. Fast forward two years and seven more tour titles, Andy reached his first grand slam final, the 2008 US Open. However in 2012, having lost in three subsequent grand slam final appearances, Andy became the US Open Champion. This was hot on the heels of an illustrious Gold Medal victory at Wimbledon during the London 2012 Olympics. Andy then ended years of British heartbreak on the same turf just a year later by becoming the first British male in 77 years to win the highly coveted Wimbledon Championships in London in July 2013.
Currently on 28 career titles, Andy is Great Britain’s most successful tennis player of the Open era and his grand slam title ended Great Britain’s 76-year wait for a male grand slam champion.
Christine Ileoma Ohuruogu was born in 1984 in Newham, East London and was raised less than one mile from the 2012 Summer Olympics stadium in Stratford.
As a former under 17 and under 19 England netball player, Christine participated in athletics from the age of 16. Joining the Newham & Essex Beagles, Chrissy began to specialise in the 400m (due to the fact that no other member wanted to compete over such a distance) and with impressive times she was regularly selected to run.
Christine’s professional athletics career began to take shape in 2003 when she won a bronze medal at 400m at the European Junior Championships. The following year she became the Amateur Athletic Association champion, which led onto a semi-final place in the 400m at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, and a spot on the 400m team GB relay team, who finished fourth.
In 2005, in-between training and competing, Christine graduated from University College London, with a degree in Linguistics. In the same year, she reached the semi-final in the 400m at the Athletics World Championships in Helsinki, as well as winning a bronze medal in the women’s 4 x 400m relay.
In 2006 Christine scored a personal best to win a gold medal for England in the 400m at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and the following year she won a gold medal at the 2007 IAAF World T&F Championships in Osaka.
In 2008 Christine travelled with Team GB to the Beijing Summer Olympics, where she won a gold medal in the 400m, making her the first British female Olympic Champion in the 400m. Following her Olympic achievements, in 2009, Christne was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year Honours.
Christine’s good performances continued but her progression was disrupted by injury. She placed 5th in the 2009 IAAF World T&F Championships in Berlin but was forced to miss the 2010 European Athletics Championships and Commonwealth Games. In 2011 she false started in the 400m at the IAAF World T&F Championships in Daegu but came back to help GBR to 4th place in the 4x400m.
In 2012 Christine was injury free and back to her best. She started the season with a fantastic run to help GBR win the 4x400m gold in the IAAF World T&F Championships in Istanbul. At her home Olympic Games in London she won the silver medal in the 400m in 49.70 secs, only 0.15 off the gold.
Justin Rose announced himself to the golfing world when, as a 17 year old amateur he pitched in at the last hole in the 1998 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale G.C., a shot that claimed him 4th place. With that shot Justin captured the imagination of the British public and the rest of the golfing world.
In the 14 years following the dramatic scenes at Birkdale, Justin has proven himself as one of the World’s leading golfers, winning the European Tour Order of Merit in 2007 and reaching No.6 in the World in 2008. He was also the best performing rookie of both teams in the 2008 Ryder Cup.
In 2010, Justin was billed as one of the World’s hottest golfer with two victories on the PGA Tour in the space of a 4 week period. His maiden victory in the US came at the famous Jack Nicklaus Memorial tournament and he was close to making it two wins in two events at the Travelers Championship. Following the disappointment of letting a final round lead slip from his grasp, Justin showed his depth in character to go on to secure his 2nd win in the US just a week later at the AT&T National.
2011 was another exceptional year with a further victory on the PGA Tour at the BMW Championship. He backed this up with ten top 15 finishes on the European and PGA Tours, to include 3rd place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and 5th at the Transitions Championships. He rounded 2011 off by coming 2nd at the World Cup in China.
2012 saw Justin become the World’s 4th best golfer – his highest ever world ranking. He started the year with an impressive run at the Masters, finishing 8th, and followed this with his biggest win to date at the WGC – Cadillac Championship. This win makes Justin one of just 3 Brits to have won 4 events or more on the PGA Tour. He then almost won the FedEx series Tour Championship and was full of confidence going into the Ryder Cup at Medinah. He claimed an impressive 3 points for the team including a remarkable win against Mickelson in the singles. Justin rounded off 2012 by winning the Turkish Airlines World Finals, an event featuring the top 8 players in the World, and also by finishing 2nd at the season ending DP World Tour Championship having posted a thrilling final day 62.
He has kicked off the 2013 season in sublime form as well finishing 2nd at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championships, and top 10 finishes at the Honda Classic, WGC Cadillac, Arnold Palmer Invitational and Memorial. His greatest achievement to date came when he won the US Open Championship in fine form at Merion. This historic win is Justin’s first Major victory, which ended a 43 year English drought in the US Open, and a 17 year wait for an English Major Champion.