In a year full of British sporting glories, it was impossible to say that the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year would fail to live up to the hype. Pride, sadness, elation; 2012 had it all. And the person that the British people have chosen to epitomise this year of success is Bradley Wiggins.
Presented by the effervescent trio of Gary Lineker, Sue Barker, and Clare Balding, tonight was the night where we paid tribute to the sporting heroics of the past year.
How a winner was even chosen this year is an achievement in itself; all 12 on the shortlist each had an incredibly strong reason to take home the award. From Rory McIlroy, such a huge contributor to Europe’s Ryder Cup victory this year and winner of two World Championships, to Nicola Adams, the first ever women’s Olympic boxing champion, the competition could not have been tighter.
But as many predicted, Bradley Wiggins has been honoured with the prestigious award. With Jessica Ennis and Andy Murray in second and third place respectively, the three on the podium have undoubtedly been the cream of the sporting crop for the past year.
And the winner indeed showed he had the ‘personality’, with a humourous and humble acceptance speech which shows why he is adored by the public and his fellow sportspeople.
In the other awards, Team of the Year went to the only people it could; Team GB and Paralympic GB. The amount of medals accumulated between the two groups made it a summer of sport we will never forget. The award was presented by Roger Bannister and accepted by a selection of the athletes from the team, including Victoria Pendleton and Johnny Peacock.
In the Young Sports Personality of the Year, Josef Craig was a worthy winner after becoming Britain’s youngest gold medal winner in the 2012 games. The 15 year-old delivered a heartfelt speech thanking his family, teammates, and coaches. After experiencing success at such a tender age, there is no doubt that his greatest achievements are ahead of him.
The award for Coach of the Year was received by Dave Brailsford, the man who helped Team GB riders to win eight golds for the second Olympics in a row. Brailsford is also principal at Team Sky, winners of the 2012 Tour de France with riders Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by England’s favourite footballing son, David Beckham. It was awarded to Sebastian Coe. The former GB athlete was an outstanding performer in his heyday, and deserves much of the credit for giving Great Britain the chance to host one of the greatest Olympics of the modern era.
Never in doubt, Usain Bolt won the Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award for the third time in five years after completing the ‘double double’. He is the most decorated sprinter of all time.
The recipient of the Helen Rollason award for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity went to Martine Wright, who competed for Britain in the sitting volleyball event. Wright lost most of her legs in the London 7/7 bombings, and gave a rousing speech on building on the legacy of the games.
And finally, the Unsung Hero of the Year Award went to Sue and Jim Houghton. The husband and wife team spent 25 years transforming a derelict Leicestershire sports ground into a popular community facility.
Everyone watching tonight will not have been disappointed. This was not just a time to revel in the achievements of these incredible athletes and sportspeople; this was a time to be proud of our small nation and the outstanding spirit and quality we possess.
Roll on 2013!