Belfast Telegraph

Paralympian star Hannah shines at BBC Sports Personality of the Year

By Billy Weir

Well done to paralympian superstar Hannah Cockcroft for being the real winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Dozens of world records, medals galore, a lovely personality and more importantly, she's English. There could be no more deserving a winner in the eyes of the BBC.

It bodes well for the Commonwealth Games next year – and who isn't counting down the days? – that non-English competitors dominated proceedings in this the 60th anniversary of SPOTY.

Not just the top three in the end, but a quick look shows that Mo Farah, Chris Froome and Justin Rose hail from Somalia, Kenya and South Africa respectively, while Ben Ainslie won the Americas Cup for America.

This meant the only 'English' chances lay with the lovely Hannah and Christine Ohuruogu and Ian Bell and let's be honest, a cricketer wasn't going to win and despite her best efforts, Christine is never going to be Jessica Ennis.

It would have been a nice touch had the marauding Magyars team of 1953 been invited along but no, fast forward another 13 years when Wembley was the scene again as Gary Lineker, by the magic of computer jiggery-pokery, popped up to see Bobby Moore lift the Jules Rimet Trophy.

This continued. Clare Balding appeared beside Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977 and cheering on Torvill and Dean in Sarajevo in 1980, Gary back in 1966 again, just in case we missed it, with Gabby Logan not left out as she popped up behind a 1989 Masters-winning Nick Faldo and Ian Botham's Ashes heroics of 1981.

Next up, Gary cheering Becks' goal against Greece in 2001, and then watching himself control a greetin' Gazza in 1990, before they all appeared to remind us that the Olympics was great last year.

Maybe I missed all those Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales highlights from down the years, but I digress, Gary welcomed us all 'to the year that couldn't be but has been' and was then rudely interrupted by a wee lad coming on to stage without a note in his head.

I checked to see if I'd moved on the sofa and accidentally sat on the remote control and somehow Nicholas McDonald had come on, but no, there was only room for one mumbling Scotsman on a night like this. Or perhaps two.

John Newman's musical interlude over, Gary became caught up in the atmosphere, shouting 'Hello Leeds' as he came onto stage, but Roger Daltrey he is not and was saved by Clare who spelt out who was in the reckoning.

"We'll relive all those moments of the past 12 months; the ones that made you sing and shout, laugh and cry and give out eight awards, with the highlight the crowning of Andy Murray as BBC Sports Personality of the Year.'

Okay, okay, she didn't say that exactly but they must think we came up the Aire in a bubble. Never mind whether he deserved to win or not but as the evening progressed and three of those nominated –Rose, Bell and Farah – hadn't turned up for one reason or another and there was no video link, you knew they weren't going to win anything.

Similarly Froome could be ruled out as he isn't Wiggo, Ainslie is just too posh, Hannah is lovely but was never going to win, and the split votes for AP and Tony McCoy gave them no chance.

They couldn't give it to Ohuruogu as there was no guarantee she would turn up so that just left Leigh Halfpenny, the Lions' kicker, Wales' sexiest man by all accounts with all the personality of a soggy leek.

And so it went on. And on. Pointless looks at the contenders came and went before Gary came on to talk about oor Andy.

"There are days in our sporting history that are truly unforgettable. July 30, 1966, England won the World Cup (blimey, they kept that quiet); August 4, 2012, there was Super Saturday at the Olympics and now Sunday, July 7, 2013 will be a day that will live long in the memory."

Indeed, few will forget Down's defeat of Derry in the Ulster Hurling semi-final. Oh, not that.

We relived the achievements of Britain's first Wimbledon Men's Singles winner of 77 years, just a year after that Scottish bloke bottled it, and then as we went to speak to him we were told he was in the shower.

No problem, help was at hand, mother Judy in a stunning tartan number that had you wondering were Loyal Sons of Clackmannanshire Flute Band an outfit light somewhere.

Thankfully she and Gary had just enough material to carry on until Andy appeared by video link. Hmmm, do you think he might have won?

Apart from Hannah's appearance, the undoubted highlight was the tribute to Anne Williams, the Justice for the 96 Hillsborough campaigner who passed away this year, while there was to be a special award to mark the 60th anniversary of the show.

This went to Sir Alex Ferguson, surrounded by stars of past Manchester United teams – and Dion Dublin – although I couldn't see Roy Keane there.

Fergie commented on the great welcome he'd had from the Leeds crowd, and was duly booed, and the sycophancy of Cristiano Ronaldo's message was only surpassed by Gary's fawning over the former United boss. He must want a book for Christmas. He's probably finished colouring-in his other one.

And then the voting ended. AP edged out Tony for third, Halfpenny somehow got second and, wait for it, Andy won!

"No matter how excited I try to sound, my voice always sounds boring – that's just my voice. I'm sorry. I'm very excited right now," he said as, totally out of the blue, Martina Navratilova handed over the trophy to a very not excited Andy.

And that was that, the curtain came down on the diamond encrusted affair, but the main geezer was far from sparkling, but see you all again next year, where we'll bask on all that Commonwealth Games glory.

Belfast Telegraph


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