It took something quite extraordinary to get the No1 vote from SJA member and sports news correspondent JOHN GOODBODY
In almost half a century of voting for the SJA awards, I don’t think I have ever had such difficulty as I have had this year, at least as far as the men’s ranking is concerned. I have always taken certain criteria in reaching my decisions, two of which are particularly important and have to be weighed with each other and also with other reasons.
The first criterion is the impact than any British individual or team has had internationally. The global popularity of a sport is therefore crucial. To take the most popular men’s team sports in this country, namely football, cricket and rugby union, clearly football is far ahead internationally of the other two, neither of which are really developed in more than about dozen countries in the world.
Second, one has to take into account just how dominating teams or individuals have been in their sports in that particular year.
Therefore, in the team award, Chelsea’s Champions’ League victory is unquestionably my No1 because, although the club may have been fortunate and can scarcely be said to have dominated the competition, football is the premier sport in Europe and the tournament is the most significant club event in the world.
I put scullers, Kath Grainger and Anna Watkins, second in the Team of the Year category because they have been untouchable all season, climaxing with the Olympic title. The men’s sprint cycling team came in third place.
Among women, I put Jessica Ennis first for her all-round ability in athletics, the leading Olympic sport, ahead of Grainger and Victoria Pendleton third.
But the men’s choice was really tricky. There were six stand-out candidates. Ben Ainslie, for his longevity in sailing and yet another another Olympic gold medal, and Alistair Brownlee for his supremacy in triathlon. In any other year, they would have been even stronger contenders but for me neither of their sports have quite the global profile.
I had to discard Sir Chris Hoy from the top three because in 2012 he did not have the overwelming supremacy of previous years, especially in the individual sprint, where he was not even picked for Team GB.
I made Andy Murray third because, although he won the Olympic title and, more significantly, the US Open, the first British man to win a Grand Slam title since 1936, he is by no means unarguably the world No1 in tennis.
After much thought, I put Mo Farah just behind Bradley Wiggins. Long-distance running is more popular internationally than cycling and Mo had not only taken both the Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 metres titles but had also become the first Briton ever to win either of them. What finally swayed me was the versatility of Wiggins. To become the first Briton to win the Tour de France and then 10 days later to take the Olympic time-trial (his seventh Olympic gold medal, having converted from the track) was extraordinary.
That is why he is my Sportsman of the Year.
- Do you disagree with Goodbody? SJA members are still able to vote for the British Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year, ahead of our British Sports Awards on December 6.
- Make a case for your favourite by sending a 400-word feature to the SJA website at email@example.com
- If you’re an SJA member, it takes just minutes to cast your vote online – click here now. Voting closes on Nov 12
- Click here to see some of the other leading contenders for your votes
UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Thu Dec 6: 2012 SJA British Sports Awards. An Olympic year extravaganza at the Tower of London. Click here for more details, news of members’ discounts and a booking form.