Rarely has the term ?crowded field? seemed more appropriate. This year the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award will most definitely not be a foregone conclusion. Moreover, at the end of a perception-changing few months the winner could easily be female, disabled or both.

Had the Olympics and Paralympics not taken place this summer, Bradley Wiggins?s Tour de France triumph would surely have made him a hot favourite for the annual prize although, depending on events at Flushing Meadows, Andy Murray might have proved a dark horse.

Having also starred in London 2012, Murray and Wiggins will surely still feature on the shortlist but are they really more deserving of the BBC gong than Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Ellie Simmonds, David Weir or Sophie Christiansen? And what about Sarah Storey and Sir Chris Hoy?

Dilemmas, dilemmas. Compiling a long, let alone short, list promises to prove fiendishly tricky. There will be no repeat, at least, of last year when not a single female made the shortlist. Otherwise the only certainty is that cricket?s Kevin Pietersen and football?s John Terry will not be accruing any votes ? unless someone dreams up a ?baddie of the year? contest.

Sue Barker and Gary Lineker ? the usual SPOTY presenters ? have done nothing particularly wrong but the BBC would be in a better position could they snatch Clare Balding back from Channel 4 and ensure she is the lead studio host in December.

If this was the summer when Balding not only highlighted her broadcasting ability but proved just what a hit she is with viewers across the Olympics and Paralympics, Simmonds captured hearts and headlines in equal measure in the latter. After collecting two golds, one silver and a bronze in the pool at the Paralympics, the swimmer surely has to be in with a big shout?

Yet her fellow Paralympians Weir, aka the best wheelchair racer of all time and the Weirwolf of south London, and Storey, who like Wiggins is doing so much to make cycling fashionable, won four golds apiece. Either would be deserving recipients.

How to measure, how to quantify, individual achievements in so many, often extremely diverse, disciplines? Farah?s smile ? not to mention his Mobot celebration, a manoeuvre now adopted by Usain Bolt ? will long serve as abiding memories of the Olympics and his double over 5,000m and 10,000m would make the long-distance runner a most worthy and popular winner.

If the idea of Bolt presenting Farah with his trophy as they both perform the Mobot might make good television so, too, would Ennis being applauded to the rafters. Quite apart from being a gold medal winning heptathlete, Ennis serves as a role model for countless impressionable young girls.

Similarly Jonnie Peacock, the Paralympic sprint champion, who won gold in the 100m for amputees, challenges all sorts of long outdated ideas about the disabled and their horizons. So, too, does, Christiansen, the Paralympian equestrienne, who secured a hat-trick of gold medals in the dressage.

At the end of a year in which some once rigid mind-sets have been reprogrammed it would seem entirely appropriate if Peacock or Ennis or Weir or Storey or Simmonds or Christiansen came out on top of the BBC poll. But maybe that would be unfair on Nicola Adams, the first woman to win an Olympic boxing gold medal or Laura Trott, the double gold winning track cyclist.

Then there are those who, in the mould of Sir Steve Redgrave before them, keep coming back for more and somehow continue securing unprecedented glories. While Hoy is a six-time Olympic champion in the velodrome, Ben Ainslie has proved such an exceptional sailor that he has won medals in five different Games, four of them gold.

They say comparisons are invidious but a choice must be made ? even if someone will have to write a book: ?How to stop dithering and become decisive? before I can make mine?

Source guardian.co.uk


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