Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Murray enjoys landslide win

Andy Murray was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year by a landslide margin in Leeds on Sunday night, polling well over half of the total votes cast to finish clear of British and Irish Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny and racing great Tony McCoy.

Wimbledon champion Murray, who took 401,470 votes ahead of Halfpenny on 65,913 and McCoy on 57,854, was presented with the award by Martina Navratilova via live video link to his training base in Florida where he is recovering from back surgery.

Murray said: "Wimbledon is something I've worked for for a lot of years and dedicated a lot of time towards, and something like this is an acknowledgement of your achievements from the British public.

"It's very nice and I'm glad I won it because when you look at a lot of the names on the trophy there are some pretty special athletes on there, so I'm proud to have won."

The extent of Murray's victory shattered once and for all the notion that he is a hard figure for the British public to love, and the 26-year-old Scot alluded to his perceived grumpiness in an earlier interview with show co-host Gary Lineker.

Murray joked: "I know I'm sometimes not the easiest person to support but I've had a lot of pressure on me for a long time and I'm just glad I finally managed to break through.

"No matter how excited I try to sound my voice still sounds incredibly boring but I'm actually incredibly excited right now. That's just my voice - I'm sorry.

Halfpenny said he was "stunned" to be awarded second place on a proud night for the Lions, who also took the Team of the Year award for their thrilling Test win over Australia, with Warren Gatland winning the Coach of the Year award.

Halfpenny said: "I can't believe it to be honest. Just to be nominated was a huge honour and I felt hugely privileged to be here tonight in the company of so many amazing sports stars. To receive the award from Sir Bradley Wiggins and Sir Alex Ferguson was amazing."

Meanwhile 2010 winner McCoy hailed Murray's success and said it would be been an "injustice" had the Scot not taken the title after a year in which he proved himself capable of holding his head high amid one of the greatest of all tennis eras.

McCoy said: "It wouldn't have been right for anyone else to win Sports Personality of the Year because he's the first tennis player in all that time to win Wimbledon and with all the pressure that was on him.

"He's probably playing in an era where in Nadal, Federer and Djokovic we have three of the best tennis players in the game so to win Wimbledon is a phenomenal achievement and it would have been a total injustice.

"No disrespect to any of the others but it wouldn't have been right and the British public were right in voting for a very worthy winner. What he achieved stands out in any year and would have stood out from the last 25 years probably."

Mo Farah was in fourth place with 51,945 followed by Ben Ainslie, Chris Froome, Hannah Cockroft, Christine Ohuruogu, Justin Rose and Ian Bell, who finished last of the 10-strong shortlist with 5,626 votes to his name.

Sebastian Vettel succeeded Usain Bolt as Overseas Sports Personality of the Year after a history-making season which saw him claim his fourth consecutive Formula One world title.

Vettel equalled Michael Schumacher's record of 13 race wins in a single season and also matched Alberto Ascari's mark of nine consecutive grand prix wins.

Skeet shooter Amber Hill was crowned Young Sports Personality of the Year after a year which saw her crowned the youngest World Cup winner in her sport's history.

Hill was just 15 years old when she made history and she went on to finish the season as the world number five, as well as equalling the senior world record in the qualifying round of the World Championships in Peru.

Hill was chosen from a shortlist of three, also including golfer Charley Hull and athlete Dina Asher-Smith. Last year's winner was swimmer Josef Craig who became Britain's youngest gold medallist at the 2012 Paralympics.

To mark the programme's 60th year, Sir Bobby Charlton presented a special Diamond Achievement award to Sir Alex Ferguson, who called time on his 26 years in charge of Manchester United this summer.

Ferguson paid tribute to Charlton, saying: "Sir Bobby is one of the reasons that I existed as long as I did in the early days at Manchester United because he believed in the direction we were taking in terms of producing the young players again.

"I've had a great life, a great career and I'm still busy, I've not gone away, but I picked the right time - 27 years in this industry is very, very difficult and I'm enjoying my retirement."

Former Liverpool captain Alan Hansen presented the Helen Rollason Award posthumously to the late Anne Williams, for her tireless campaigning for a new inquest for her son Kevin and other victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

The Unsung Hero award was presented to Joe and Maggie Forber for their work with young basketball players at the Amaechi Basketball Centre in Manchester.

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