Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

The Punter: Mo Farah set to strike gold

Mo Farah's two gold medals at the London Olympics have put him in pole position to win BBC Sports Personality prize

A glance at those not considered for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year is testament to what a golden year, in more senses than one, 2012 has been.

Olympic gold medallists Charlotte Dujardin, Greg Rutherford, Victoria Pendleton, Laura Trott and Alistair Brownlee did not make the list, even though it was extended from 10 to 12.

But Olympians and Paralympians still hog the limelight with 11 of the nominees — only Holywood’s Rory McIlory breaking the monopoly.

In any other year, the 23-year-old would be home and hosed after winning another Major in five tournament successes which saw him emerge as the leading money earner both in Europe and the States.

McIlroy has the potential to be the best golfer of all time such is his ability and talent, never more evident than those brilliant five successive birdies which earned him the Dubai World Tour Championship ahead of Justin Rose despite the latter's course record 62.

And let's not forget his role in Europe's Ryder Cup victory.

In what has been a stupendous year for him, he would have been heading the market.

Instead, he's an incredible 150/1 behind 2/5 favourite Bradley Wiggins and 40/1 for a top-three place.

Wiggins, the first ever British Tour de France winner and a golden boy in the Olympic time trial, would follow another cyclist, Mark Cavendish, who lifted the iconic trophy last year, following on from our own AP McCoy.

It's down to the public vote, so anything can happen. However, 2/5 about Wiggins is much too short as it's rare for the same sport to provide successive winners.

Also, the cycling supremo faces fierce competition from Andy Murray and a host of other worthy contenders. The Scot certainly picked his moment to become Britain's first tennis Grand Slam winner since 1936 — in tandem with London glory.

That in itself would normally be more than good enough but there are plenty of other great Olympic success stories, not least the double strike by Mo Farah in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres.

Farah (5/1) and Murray (10/1) are sure to be in the frame and 4/5 for Murray to be in the first three has a certain appeal.

But it's Farah who has to be backed as athletes have won 30 per cent of SPOTY honours. Mo is only the fifth in Olympic history to land that superb double.

Third last year, Farah's public profile has risen considerably, having joined Usain Bolt in Virgin Media’s advertising campaign, and he will really have enhanced his popularity in becoming the first person to win £250,000 for his charity foundation in ITV's The Cube.

Jessica Ennis, heptathlon's golden girl, is the only female with a chance, but run with Farah to come out on top.

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