Humble hero McCoy is moved by special award
There was warmth, love, admiration and respect inside the SSE Arena for the legendary Tony McCoy as he collected the lifetime achievement award at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year show.
The decision to award the Moneyglass man the prestigious prize had been announced last week but that did not take away from the emotion and joy of the Northern Ireland public, in Belfast, seeing one of their own join an illustrious list of iconic sporting figures.
There was a prolonged standing ovation from the 7,500 crowd for the hugely popular 41-year-old jockey who retired in April after riding 4,358 winners.
McCoy, who was presented with his award by fellow countryman Rory McIlroy, somehow held himself together as the applause kept on coming.
"What an honour and privilege it is to receive such a prestigious award, especially in Belfast," he said. "Being here tonight in Northern Ireland, a place that has produced so many special and successful sportspeople, is fantastic.
"I will forever be grateful to my sport of racing," added McCoy, who thanked all those, including the horses, who had played key roles in his incredible career.
He concluded: "To any young people watching make the sacrifices because it is worth it."
Before the presentation, in a wonderfully crafted piece of film, former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson spoke of how he held McCoy in awe. Tony's mum Claire and dad Paedar also talked with great affection about their boy.
Previous winners of the lifetime achievement include Pele, Ferguson, Lord Coe, Seve Ballesteros, Bjorn Borg, Sir Steve Redgrave, Martina Navratilova and Sir Ian Botham.
The only Northern Ireland man to be presented with the award prior to last night was the late, great George Best in 2002.
McCoy, the finest jump jockey ever and one of the bravest, most competitive sports stars of all time, deserves his place alongside them.