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Sunday, December 14, 1997 Published at 15:45 GMT


BBC names 1997 sports personality

1997 was a great year for British sport. But who will win the BBC's sports personality of the year?

[ image: Europe's Ryder Cup victory]
Europe's Ryder Cup victory
It was the year England and Scotland qualified for the World Cup, Greg Rusedski made it to a Grand Slam final, Europe won the Ryder Cup and the Lions tamed the Springboks.

On the international scene, Jacques Villeneuve survived a Schumacher shunt, the Aussies proved they are still the best at Test cricket, the All Blacks finished unbeaten and Mike Tyson bit off more than he could chew.


[ image: Glenn Hoddle]
Glenn Hoddle
In the biggest game on earth, nothing is bigger than the World Cup. And England have not been there since 1990. But they will be in France 98, after Glen Hoddle's men showed nerves of steel to qualify as group leaders - ahead of Italy.

It all looked doubtful in February when a goal from Gianfranco Zola at Wembley put the Italians in the driving seat. But England kept plugging away - even when they lost their inspirational captain Alan Shearer to injury - and ultimately looked comfortable as they secured the 0-0 draw they needed in their final qualifying match in Rome.

Now optimism is high that England could go all the way for the first time since 1996. The initial task will be to get past Tunisia, Romania and Colombia.

Scotland will also be there next year. They qualified as best runners up, finishing their group behind Austria and ahead of Sweden - and they had to replay a game when their Estonian opposition did not turn up.

[ image: Craig Brown]
Craig Brown
Craig Brown's team will play the current World Champions Brazil in the opening game of the finals, before meeting Norway and Morocco in their attempt to get beyond the first round for the first time ever.

Ireland narrowly missed out. They finished second in their group behind the unbeaten Romanians, but lost the play-off with Belgium. Wales and Northern Ireland failed too.

On the domestic front there has really been only one team - Manchester United. They won their fourth Premiership title in five years in May and although their enigmatic captain Eric Cantona retired, they look set to win yet another this season.

They have also improved in Europe - making it to the semi-finals of last year's European Cup, where they were knocked out by the eventual winners Borussia Dortmund, and being installed as favourites for this year's competition after winning five of their six Champions' League games.

Glasgow Rangers' European failings continue to haunt them - they have already been knocked out of the European Cup and the UEFA Cup this season - but the fans will easily forgive them if they can win a record 10th successive Scottish Championship.


[ image: Greg Rusedski]
Greg Rusedski
British tennis was given a shot in the arm by Greg Rusedski and Tim Henman, who both reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals. Rusedski made it to the final of the US Open, losing to Pat Rafter, and reached the top five of the World rankings. Henman became a top 20 player and teamed up with Rusedski to form the core of a rapidly improving Davis Cup team.

[ image: Martina Hingis]
Martina Hingis
American Pete Sampras continued to dominate the sport, winning his fourth Wimbledon title and ending up top of the rankings for the fifth successive year.

Martina Hingis became the youngest Wimbledon ladies' championship this century - at 16.


Europe won the Ryder Cup in Spain, overseen by captain Seve Ballesteros. Colin Montgomery topped the European money list for a record fifth successive time. But the sensational Tiger Woods won more on the American tour.


[ image: The All Blacks]
The All Blacks
The British Lions triumphed in South Africa for the first time since 1974 - winning the series 2-1. But the Southern Hemisphere sides still dominated their European rivals on a one-to-one basis, with Australia, the Springboks and most impressively the unbeaten All Blacks giving the five nations a lesson or two in rugby union.

The story was the same in rugby league, with Australia coming out on top to win a series against Great Britain, once again in the decisive third Test. Aussie sides also finished up best in international club rugby.


[ image: The Ashes]
The Ashes
Once again Australia outplayed England when it mattered, to win the Ashes. Mike Atherton's men got off to a great start, taking the one day series 3-0 and then winning the first Test. But three impressive Aussie victories gave them the trophy and meant England's Oval triumph was merely a consolation.

However it was a huge improvement on the start of the year when England struggled against Zimbabwe. And the team will start next year's Caribbean tour full of hope after the once mighty West Indies suffered their first whitewash in 69 years, against Pakistan.

Motor racing

[ image: Jacques Villeneuve]
Jacques Villeneuve
Jacques Villeneuve became Formula One Champion in an exciting final race, when Michael Schumacher, who was leading the championship by a point, crashed out after turning his car into the Canadian.

Andy Green might have given Villeneuve a run for his money though. He broke the world land speed record, driving faster than the speed of sound in ThrustSSC.


[ image: Prince Naseem Hamed]
Prince Naseem Hamed
Mike Tyson was disqualified from his heavyweight title fight against Evander Holyfield - the defending champion - after twice biting chunks out of his ear. Britain's boxing stars, Lennox Lewis and Prince Naseem Hamed, resorted to more orthodox methods as they continued their campaigns to become undisputed champions of the World.

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