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Why Sports Personality of the Year should go to an Olympian

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Among a sea of talented nominees, Britain’s Olympic heroes are the ultimate ambassadors for British sport.

British Athletics has entered what is nothing short of a golden age, proved emphatically by their second place in the medals table at Rio, nestled cosily between the USA and China who came first and third respectively. The very fact that team GB are even anywhere near competing with countries of such immense population is a testament to their dedication and raw talent (with a little help from the National Lottery, naturally).

Above: SPOTY nominee Nicola Adams runs the show in the ring and is considering a pro move. 

The reason, however, that the nation has taken so affectionately to its Olympic heroes is their overwhelming modesty and humanity. This is the birth of a new kind of sporting hero; one that is approachable, humble, and proves that with dedication you can achieve anything. To remain so down-to-earth after trotting back with more medals than China is astounding; they quite literally out-performed most of the world, and still we have to do their bragging for them.

Of course, you can’t truly know a person just from TV appearances, but you can’t help but be swept away by the infectious likeability of some of these athletes. Interviews are often characterised by smiles, tears, nervous giggles and stutters that remind everyone that under these machine-like bodies lie a human being just the same as the rest of us.

It is this that, in a competition that specifies personality in its title, separates them from the rest of the nominees. This is not at all to take away from the achievements of the others, especially as a football fan it is impossible not to admire the likes of Jamie Vardy who rose from non-league football to premier league winner, and who didn’t love Danny Willet’s miraculous Masters win?

But, at the end of the day the sports men and women we should be celebrating are the likes of Nicola Adams, who grinned her way to multiple boxing medals and is a shining light for aspiring female boxers, or Nick Skelton, who not only is Britain’s second oldest gold medal winner of all time at 58, but also overcame a neck fracture earlier in his career and (literally) got back on the horse to return to equestrian.

I’d like to see one of these two win, but any of the team GB nominees would be worthy winners, like Britain’s favourite cycling power-couple Jason and Laura Kenny, or the ever-loveable Mo Farah, who came back from a fall to win the 10,000 metres. Alastair Brownlee helping his exhausted brother over the finish line will also be a sporting memory that will be forever remembered.

Nick Skelton shines in the Show Jumping

These are only a few examples of many, and I haven’t even mentioned the heroics of Paralympians such as Dame Sarah Storey -who simply need a whole other article to do them justice.

So, let’s give the prize to one of these everyday heroes, who have not only turned Great Britain into an Olympic superpower, but have done it with a smile on their face and while demonstrating unparalleled modesty, comradery and humanity.   

For more on Britain's Olympians, take a look at our full interview with Greg Rutherford. 




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