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Who will win Sports Personality?

Lewis HamiltonTom DaleyAndy MurrayPaula RadcliffeAmir KhanKelly SothertonVictoria PendletonJoe CalzagheJessica EnnisChris Hoy

By David Ornstein

Does it not feel like yesterday that Joe Calzaghe, beamed back to us via video link from Las Vegas, was crowned 2007 BBC Sports Personality of the Year?

Joe Calzaghe
Will Sports Personality see its first ever back-to-back winner?
The four months since Calzaghe won the award seem to have passed in the blink of an eye and on Sunday the world super-middleweight champion puts his SPOTY title on the line against Bernard Hopkins.

Victory would put the Newbridge southpaw firmly in contention to retain his accolade in eight months' time but defeat could crush such hopes.

That would throw the competition wide open, but who could rise up to snatch Calzaghe's mantle?

Lewis Hamilton has made a mixed start to the F1 season, Britain's golfers have hardly shined so far and England's footballers failed to collect their tickets for the Euro 2008 jamboree.

Which neatly turns our attention to a colossal summer of sport - from the Olympics to Wimbledon and Royal Birkdale to Lord's, let battle commence...

And in the meantime, why not check out who's hot and who's not in the world of sport with online trading game Sportdaq.

QUICK OUT OF THE BLOCKS

Odds based on average from different bookmakers.

LEWIS HAMILTON 3-1 (23, English, Motorsport)
The McLaren flyer was forced to settle for second in his remarkable debut season and the result was mirrored off the track when he finished runner-up to Calzaghe in Sports Personality.

606: DEBATE
David O, BBC Sport

Once again Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen looks to be the obstacle around which Hamilton must manoeuvre if he is to turn silver into gold.

But Hamilton is no also-ran and winning the first Grand Prix of 2008 in Australia, despite then coming fifth and 13th in Malaysia and Bahrain, has made him the bookies' favourite.

SPOTY prediction: Lift the F1 title and it will take some effort to prevent Hamilton becoming the fifth racing driver to triumph.


TOM DALEY 15-2 (13, English, Diving)
The fact that Daley is heading to Beijing at the age of 13 speaks volumes for his fledgling career and the shockwaves he has sent through the diving fraternity.

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Profile: Olympic diver Tom Daley

The 2007 Young Sports Personality of the Year will be the second-youngest British Olympian of all time but, on the diving board at least, he is growing increasingly accustomed to first place.

Already the 2008 British individual and synchro 10m platform champion, Daley stunned world diving by taking gold in the individual at the European Swimming Championships in March.

SPOTY prediction: A medal in Beijing may be asking too much but, if achieved, we could be staring at the youngest ever SPOTY winner.


ANDY MURRAY 7-1 (20, Scottish, Tennis)
Some English fans see Murray as 'British when he wins, Scottish when he fails', but celebration would be nationwide if Murray won a Grand Slam event in 2008.

The year began with victory in Qatar and Marseilles but, wedged in between, a first-round exit at the Australian Open came as blow.

Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the Olympics and Flushing Meadows offer four opportunities for Britain's only world-class singles player to make a major breakthrough.

SPOTY prediction: Becoming the first British man to win a Slam since Fred Perry in 1936 would put Murray firmly in the frame but anything less and SPOTY is likely to go elsewhere.


PAULA RADCLIFFE 8-1 (34, English, Athletics)
There is only one item missing from Radcliffe's mantelpiece and that is an Olympic medal.

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Interview: Paula Radcliffe

She has not competed this year and was denied the chance to face rivals Gete Wami, Berhane Adere and Constantina Tomescu-Dita at the London Marathon because of a toe injury.

The 2002 Sports Personality may look to run either a 10k road race or a number of track events in the build up to Beijing, where she will settle for nothing less than gold.

SPOTY prediction: Without a medal in three Olympics, Radcliffe knows this is make or break - but another failure to win marathon gold would all-but dash her chances.


AMIR KHAN 16-1 (21, English, Boxing)
After claiming silver at the Athens Olympics, Khan made the smoothest of transitions into professional boxing and in 2008 he has already dispatched Gairy St Clair and Martin Kristjansen.

CARL DORAN BLOG

One more bout may follow before the undefeated lightweight from Bolton challenges for the world title.

If promoter Frank Warren can fix the fight by 26 July, victory for Khan would see him usurp Prince Naseem Hamed as the youngest-ever British world boxing champion.

SPOTY prediction: Other contenders would have to falter but Khan has a huge following at home and abroad, so being crowned world champion at 21 would make him a popular choice.


KELLY SOTHERTON 18-1 (31, English, Athletics)
Perhaps sick of playing the bridesmaid, Sotherton will never have a better opportunity to emerge from Carolina Kluft's shadow and become the world's leading heptathlete.

The Athens bronze medallist finished second behind Kluft in a three-event triathlon in February and runner-up to Tia Hellebaut at the World Indoors in March.

Kluft, who has not lost a multi-events competition for over six years, has decided against defending her Olympic heptathlon title in Beijing so Sotherton is one of Britain's best bets for a gold medal.

SPOTY prediction: Even if Sotherton makes history, the public may credit it in part to Kluft's absence.


VICTORIA PENDLETON 22-1 (27, English, Cycling)
British cycling's golden girl could not have peaked at a better time and, when not modelling or training, she seems to be reeling off world titles for fun.

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Inside Sport: Victoria Pendleton

The 2008 Track World Championships in March proved to be Pendleton's coming of age - to the wider public at least - as she won gold in the sprint and team sprint, while taking silver in the keirin.

Pendleton's attentions now turn to the Olympics where, with her rivals gunning for revenge, she will attempt to rubber-stamp her position as the world's finest female sprinter.

SPOTY prediction: Only one cyclist has triumphed in SPOTY history so it would be surprising if Pendleton bucked the trend, but scoop more than one gold at the Olympics and you just never know.


JOE CALZAGHE 12-1 (36, Welsh, Boxing)
The Welsh/Italian Dragon is bidding to become the first person to retain SPOTY - and having defended his world super-middleweight title on 21 occasions, who would bet against him?

Confident Calzaghe aims to 'destroy' Hopkins

Fighting on American soil for the first time, Calzaghe takes on the self-proclaimed 'executioner' Hopkins in a legacy-defining bout.

Victory for Calzaghe would probably see him fight once more in 2008 before hanging up his gloves and securing his place as arguably Britain's greatest ever boxer.

SPOTY prediction: Seeing off Hopkins and one other fighter in 2008 could bring retirement and the first-ever back-to-back SPOTY - but defeat in Vegas and it's curtains.


JESSICA ENNIS 20-1 (22, English, Athletics)
There can be little argument that Ennis is the rising star of British athletics but that will count for little when she takes on the likes of Sotherton, Eunice Barber and Lyudmila Blonska in the Olympic heptathlon.

She looked in fine nick at the World Indoor Trials and National Championships and has been working relentlessly with coach Toni Minichiello to hit Beijing running.

Ennis will compete in a number of events between now and then but an Olympic medal is the sole priority.

SPOTY prediction: The competition is fierce and Ennis could easily fall by the wayside - in both the Olympics and SPOTY stakes - so it may take her winning a surprise gold to upset the odds.


CHRIS HOY 20-1 (32, Scottish, Cycling)
Long odds for a multiple world and Olympic champion, the world's most feared track cyclist and an athlete who may well return several gold medals from Beijing.

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Highlights: Hoy defends keirin World title

Like Pendleton, Hoy came to the wider population's attention at the recent World Championships in Manchester - winning the sprint and keirin, and coming second in the team sprint.

He is in devastating form and, having taken medals at each of the last two Olympics, 2008 is likely to be a magical year for Hoy.

SPOTY prediction: Another whose sport tends to struggle for SPOTY votes but Hoy goes to Beijing in remarkable form and a multiple medal haul would make him a decent bet.

FEELING BOLD?

Those who witnessed Ryan Sidebottom's 24-wicket haul during England's recent Test series in New Zealand will be staggered to learn that the best odds floating around for the curly-locked Yorkshireman are 99-1.

With home Test series' against the Kiwis and South Africa to come this summer, Sidey should nail down his place as England's, and one of world cricket's, finest seamers.

Few sportsmen or women have performed better in 2008 but English cricket is not embarking on as big a summer as some other sports and perhaps the real acid test for Sidebottom will come in 2009, when England face Australia at home in a bid to reclaim the Ashes.

An important season of golf, meanwhile, culminates in Europe's defence of the Ryder Cup, so write the golfers off at your peril.

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Feature: Toseland's motorcycle diary II

Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey are the leading five Englishmen, all with fairly modest SPOTY odds, and will once again bid to end their country's winless run in the remaining three majors before tackling the Americans at Valhalla.

But the most interesting golfing outsider is Colin Montgomerie, whose odds range from 50-1 to 119-1 and, while he is woefully out of form and failed to qualify for the Masters, we all know what a Ryder Cup year does to the big Scot.

Monty holds a win-lose-draw record of 20-9-7, giving him a total points tally of 23.5, only 1.5 points behind the all-time record held by Nick Faldo - the 2008 captain.

Personally, I'm going to opt for British sailor Ben Ainslie at 33-1. A medallist at each of the last three Olympics Games' in laser and finn categories, Beijing will probably be Ainslie's last Olympic outing and, in my opinion, nobody is more deserving of SPOTY recognition.

An impressive fourth in the 2007 Sports Personality, reigning world superbikes champion James Toseland has moved to the testing MotoGP and, while a title is not anticipated in 2008, odds ranging between 40-1 and 99-1 suggest a fairly decent outside bet.

What's more he is an accomplished pianist and, unlike many of his rivals, can sing!


see also
Sports Personality favourites
25 Oct 07 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality favourites
03 May 07 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality favourites
30 Aug 07 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality of 2007?
18 Jan 07 |  Sports Personality


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