Belfast Telegraph

Let's drive home Darren's triumph

By Gail Walker

By every single criterion attaching to the words "sports" and "personality" there is only one winner of this week's BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2011: Darren Clarke.

The fact he won the Open Championship at Royal St George's in spectacular style and turned his victory into a 48-hour epic of before-during-and-after camerawork, is one element which brings him into contention.

It had been 12 years since a 'Briton' - as the BBC refer to winners outwith Albion's shores - had brought the claret jug to a recognisable destination. Enough of a triumph in itself to warrant the gong from his peers. But only a 'personality' and an Ulster personality to boot would have had the sheer class to put that claret jug to the use for which it was originally intended.

Darren celebrated like a man who'd been waiting to celebrate for a very long time. The cigar chomping hero restored to golf its sense of fun and the belief held by every player, no matter how lowly, that given good fortune and a huge amount of talent they too might make fools of themselves on the biggest stage possible after having made fools of everyone else.

Of course, Rory McIlroy's US Open triumph was also stunning - and in any other year he would be expected to win the BBC's acclaim. But there is time enough yet for Rory to win just about everything more than once.

But Darren's win came at the right time. It was a way of acknowledging what he had come through in the past and of welcoming his future.

Sport is about more than goals scored, wickets taken, birdies on the scorecard. At it's finest it shows the total man or woman in their fullest contexts. In the end it's about that most indefinable but most tangible of qualities: character. And it's something Darren has in spades.

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