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Murray wins top prize as Tyson Fury says sorry at Spoty2015

Scot's Davis Cup triumph seals the deal while controversial champion apologises

By Steven Beacom

Published 21/12/2015

Great Scot: Andy Murray won the overall Sports Personality of the Year
Great Scot: Andy Murray won the overall Sports Personality of the Year
Overseas Sports Personality of the Year Dan Carter
Unsung Hero Damien Lindsay
Outspoken boxer Tyson Fury
Bailey Matthews gets to grips with the Helen Rollason Award

Andy Murray was named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year on a night of blood, sweat, tears, cheers and Fury in Belfast.

In his first visit to Northern Ireland since he played junior tennis here at the age of 12, the 28-year-old Scottish star walked away with the top prize, earning 361, 446 public votes - 35% of the 1,009,498 cast.

Only rugby league hero Kevin Sinfield got close to the man who inspired Great Britain's first Davis Cup victory in 79 years, with the former Leeds Rhinos star grabbing 278,353 (28%) votes.

Athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill was third on 78, 898 (8%), just ahead of controversial boxing world champion Tyson Fury, who was fourth on 72.330.

Murray, a popular figure in this part of the world, received one of many standing ovations on a night when the 7,500 strong crowd in the SSE Arena created a fantastic atmosphere.

Northern Ireland had never seen anything like it, with so many world class sports stars together in its capital city, including our own superheroes such as Rory McIlroy and Carl Frampton. This was the first time the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show had been held in our wee country. Rest assured it won't be the last. SPOTY will be back.

Before it began there were genuine fears and plenty of nerves amongst BBC staff that the furore surrounding Fury and his controversial comments relating to homosexuality and women would overshadow the whole event.

He did play a significant role, apologising on stage to anyone he had offended, but there was much more to the 2015 SPOTY than that, not least the magnificent Murray who picked up two awards on a brilliant evening for him.

As well as the main prize, Murray was part of the Great Britain Davis Cup team that went home with the Team of the Year trophy.

He said: "I didn't expect to win because there have been so many great performances this year. I am a big boxing fan, I know what Tyson Fury did, it was an incredible achievement.

"And, what Jess Ennis did - winning a World Championship gold medal is an extremely difficult thing to do. And, to do it so soon after becoming a mother, I can imagine the amount of hard work and dedication that goes into that, and sacrifices as well."

Once upon a time there was a feeling that Murray wasn't popular with the British public. That time has gone. This is the second time he has won the SPOTY award.

"The support I have had through all of my Wimbledon runs, obviously the Olympics was unbelievable and every time I played Davis Cup home matches the support has been great. I have had absolutely zero complaints about that and tonight, I suppose proves that," said Murray last night.

"You never can please everybody but I have tried my whole career to be myself as much as I could.

"I am proud to compete for Great Britain and the support has always been there for me when I played in the biggest matches of my career."

On Fury, Murray insisted the fighter had a right to his views.

"Not everyone obviously has to agree with what he said but I do believe that he has the right to say it. That's freedom of speech and people have the right to disagree with what he says as well," said Murray, who was presented with his prize by former SPOTY winner Barry McGuigan and New Zealand's Rugby World Cup winning star Dan Carter, who won the Overseas Sports Personality of the Year.

"But his achievements, winning against Wladimir Klitschko in Germany on points is almost impossible and hardly anyone gave him a chance of winning that fight either and he proved a lot of people wrong."

Earlier on in the evening, there were some jeers inside the SSE Arena when Fury's picture appeared on the big screen in the build up to the event and at around 8pm all eyes and ears were on the boxer when he made his way to the stage.

Within days of him being included on the shortlist a petition was set up calling for his removal following his controversial remarks, one of which was made in reference to fellow nominee Ennis-Hill, saying "she slaps up good".

The pair of them never came into contact last night.

Olympic and World long jump Champion Greg Rutherford was so incensed by Fury's inclusion that, as the Belfast Telegraph revealed, he withdrew from the show before deciding to remain in the competition.

Out of the 12 sports stars shortlisted for the top prize, Rutherford was first on stage last night, receiving a rapturous reception from the crowd.

Not a whisper about Fury. There wasn't a word about the boxer when Ennis-Hill was interviewed either.

When it was Fury's turn, we waited and wondered.

First host Gary Lineker asked the Manchester man about winning the world title.

"It took 27 years to get me to where I am now. There are many people in the world but only one heavyweight champion and that's me and to say that I am very proud," came the reply.

Lineker then broached the thorny subject of the fall out from the boxer's controversial comments. A few uncomfortable seconds followed when Fury asked him to repeat the question. Next... an answer greeted with applause.

Fury stated: "I've said a lot of stuff in the past; it's all a bit tongue-in-cheek. It's all fun and games for me. If I've said anything in the past that's hurt anybody, then I apologise to anyone I've hurt, that wasn't the intention."

And the show, which started with Lineker cutting his finger on the SPOTY trophy, moved on, reaching its climax with Murray's triumph.

Ellie Downie, a 16-year-old gymnast from Nottingham, lifted the Young Sports Personality of the Year and the Helen Rollason Award was won by adorable eight-year-old Bailey Matthews, who despite having cerebral palsy completed a Triathlon in North Yorkshire in July. He conquered the 100m swim, 4km bike ride and 1.3km run and became a worldwide hit on social media. One Direction's Niall Horan and two time Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington presented Bailey with his award. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Blood, sweat, cheers, tears and Fury at this year's SPOTY. Only in Belfast...you are welcome back any time.

Belfast Telegraph

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