BBC Sports Personality of Year: Close, but no cigar for Darren Clarke
Darren Clarke narrowly missed out on the coveted title of BBC Sports Personality of Year last night after he was pipped at the post by cyclist Mark Cavendish.
Also up for the award was Holywood’s Rory McIlroy, who finished out of the top three.
A split vote among golfing nuts across Northern Ireland might have been the pair’s downfall — divided over which of Ulster’s success stories to vote for.
Co Tyrone veteran Darren appeared humbled last night as this year’s Open winner finished second to the record-breaking cyclist Cavendish, with distance runner Mo Farah finishing in third place.
Darren (43) landed his nomination after finally achieving his first Major win in a career spanning over 20 years — taking the Open Championship at Royal St George’s in July.
The celebrity filled crowd at last night’s awards ceremony watched footage of an emotional Clarke returning home to his two sons Conor and Tyrone following his win.
The Dungannon man faced a turbulent last few years following the death of his wife Heather in 2006. Going into the competition he was second favourite to take the title, with the young superstar Rory McIlroy joint third with odds of 12/1.
Rory was shortlisted for the trophy following a whirlwind year after recovering from a shocking finish at the Masters in Augusta to go on to win the US Open with a record 36-hole finish.
Although the young gun missed out on the prestigious award last night, at only 22 he still has a lifetime to impress and enthral the public with his golfing prowess. Unfortunately, it wasn’t
two in a row for Ulster after champion jockey Tony McCoy walked away with the trophy last year.
He is one of only three sporting heroes from the province to take the title, alongside boxer Barry McGuigan in 1988 and Mary Peters in 1972.
Last night Cavendish walked away victorious and was almost lost for words as he accepted his trophy following a stunning string of successes this year which included the title of world road race champion.
He was also a green jersey winner at the Tour de France — winning five stages in the world’s greatest bike race.
The 26-year-old has won 20 stages at the competition over the last four years.
Among the other winners last night was rower Sir Steve Redgrave who walked away with the Lifetime Achievement award for his outstanding career — picking up gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games.