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banner Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 18:42 GMT
And the winner is ...
Chris Chataway
Chris Chataway (l) is congratulated by Roger Bannister
From humble beginnings, albeit in the splendid surroundings of the Savoy Hotel, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award has grown to become the premier such honour in Britain and even further afield.

Last year when Lennox Lewis became the 43rd recipient of the famous trophy - modelled on the camera that filmed the first show - it was reported in newspapers in Zimbabwe and the USA.

  Did you know?
Australian runner Herb Elliott was the first winner of the Overseas Personality in 1960

Back home the programme's enduring appeal was recognised by millions of viewers and voters and a live audience at Television Centre in London bulging with the world's greatest sports men and women.

This will be its 47th year - three men have won the award twice - and since 1954, when Chris Chataway was the first winner, the prize has gone to the man or woman who has captured the imagination of the British public.

  Did you know?
Tottenham were the first football winners, taking Team of the Year in 1961

The awards, initially promoted by the newspaper The Sporting Record, have been handed out to the very best over the last half century or so since that first night in the Savoy Hotel in London.

The celebrated list reads like a who's who of sporting achievement; Muhammed Ali, Bobby Moore, Stirling Moss and Virginia Wade have all been voted the most popular sporting personalities of their time.

  Did you know?
Football claimed a clean sweep in 1966. England took the team award, Eusebio was the overseas winner and Bobby Moore won Sports Personality

But the show remained a success because it gives you a rare chance to see the personalities behind the prowess.

Ali's self-styled freestyle, Frank Bruno's attempts at golf, Steve Davis's deadpan humour and the banter of Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill, have all created an awards' ceremony with a difference.

Torvill and Dean
Torvill and Dean won in 1984 and were also twice winners of the Team award

And presiding over the whole show has been a succession of presenters, who themselves have become closely associated with the two hour sprint down memory lane.

Peter Dimmock was the original presenter presiding over the ceremony for ten years.

On that first show, edited by Paul Fox and presented by Peter Dimmock, there were six interviews - including Stirling Moss - before the Sportsview Trophy was awarded to Chataway.

  Did you know?
In 1982 Barry Sheene rode into the studio - his first solo ride since his crash

It was not the main prize of the night. That was the Sporting Record Man and Woman of the Year, which went to Roger Bannister and Pat Smythe. All three awards that night were presented by the intriguingly titled Lord Brabazon of Tara.

Frank Bough took over in 1964, guiding the show for a record 18 years before being joined by Harry Carpenter as co-presenter during the 1970s and 80s, although Carpenter had been involved since 1958.

  Did you know?
In 1992 Steve Redgrave was part of the coxless four that won the team award

Desmond Lynam, complete with bushy moustache, joined the show in 1983, joined by co-presenters Steve Rider in 1986 and Sue Barker in 1994.

John Inverdale, Gary Lineker and Clare Balding supported Steve Rider and Sue Barker last year, and this is the team that will preside over the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2000.

Damon Hill
Damon Hill celebrated winning for the first time in 1994

Each year millions of people phone in to register their vote for their top sporting personality but the ceremony also marks the awards for the Team of the Year and the Overseas Personality of the year; awarded to Muhammad Ali on a record three occasions.

Last year the Coach of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and the Helen Rollason Award, a special BBC award for outstanding courage and achievement in the face of adversity, were introduced.

Sir Alex Ferguson was chosen as the best coach, Dean Macey as the newcomer and a tearful Jenny Pitman accepted the Helen Rollason Award.

  Did you know?
In 1996 Damon Hill became the third man, after Nigel Mansell and Henry Cooper, to win Sports Personality twice

To mark the end of the millennium there was also a one-off Sports Personality of the Century award, at least until the end of this century.

Muhammad Ali was an overwhelming winner to make it a boxing double as Lennox Lewis took the annual title.

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