Belfast Telegraph

Rolling out the red carpet for our sporting superstars

Editor's Viewpoint

Nothing grabs the attention quite like a galaxy of sporting stars, and Northern Ireland will be given a tremendous opportunity to shine this December when one of the biggest sports entertainment shows on earth comes to Belfast.

The BBC's Sports Personality of the Year is a mega event and will certainly be the biggest television spectacular that the province has hosted since the MTV awards, which were judged to be an outstanding success.

For anyone with even a passing interest in sport this will be an unique opportunity for fans and star-gazers to get close to some of the greatest exponents of their games as they file into the Odyssey along the red carpet.

The BBC may have lost some of its lustre as a television sports broadcaster due to the mind- boggling sums of money paid by other corporations for rights to live events like Premiership football or golf, but its annual Sports Personality of the Year can still attract a who's who of stars, both national and international.

And where they go, thousands more will follow. This is another huge showcase for Northern Ireland as it puts on its best face for the visitors. If they enjoy a good experience in December then there is every likelihood they will return for longer visits at other times of the year.

It is also a chance for our own sporting stars - golfers Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, the imperious jump jockey Tony McCoy, our motorcycling aces, boxer Carl Frampton and our Six Nations championship-winning rugby players to name but a few - to take centre stage.

Northern Ireland may be a tiny place but when it comes to sport it punches well above its weight. That, undoubtedly, is one of the reasons why this sporting extravaganza is set for Belfast.

We can produce champions of world class and hopefully their exploits will be recognised on the big night. In McCoy's case, a special tribute seems inevitable. He has raced out of sight of all his opponents during two decades of unbroken success.

Belfast Telegraph


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