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  Saturday, 25 November, 2000, 11:59 GMT
Protopopov and who?
Abebe Bikila
Abebe Bikila: double Olympic marathon gold
The Overseas Personality of the Year award has been won by a glittering array of the best sports men and women the world has seen, but not all the winners spring instantly to mind.

BBC Sport Online's Robin Scott Elliot recalls some of the lesser-known personalities.

Muhammad Ali took it three times, Pele won in 1970, while Bjorn Borg heads the list of tennis greats to have created space on his mantlepiece for the trophy.

But, akin to Sports Personality, there have been some less-recognisable names inscribed on the trophy.

For every Eusebio there has been the odd Donald Jackson or an Oleg Protopopov. For every Lewis or Ali who bestrode their sport for years, there is a Mike Powell who leapt from no-where and soon disappeared again.

Herb Elliott
Herb Elliott: first winner

The great Australian distance runner Herb Elliott won the first Overseas award in 1960 following his success at the Rome Olympics, but remember Valery Brumel or Don Jackson, who won the next two years?

Brumel was a teenage Soviet high jumper who had broken the world record - Canada's Jackson has been tagged the 'best skater never to win an Olympic title.'

His feat in 1962 was to win the World Championship, receiving a record seven perfect marks. A report of his performance recorded 'his landing of the first triple lutz was a particular triumph.'

  Did you know?
In 1967 the Australian George Moore became the only jockey to win the award

Jacques Anquetil is France's only winner and while he is not a name that many will recall these days, his place alongside the other greats can not be questioned. Anquetil, who died in 1987, won the Tour de France five times and his Overseas award in 1963.

Anquetil was succeeded by Abebe Bikila and of all the 44 winners, it is his story that is the most gripping and ultimately tragic.

Bikila was a member of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie's Imperial Guard when he lined up for the marathon at the 1960 Olympics.

It was the first time he had raced outside his native Addis Ababa and only his third marathon. What is more, he ran barefoot.

He won gold and four years later became the first man to retain the marathon title. Once again there was nothing straightforward about his success.

Mike Powell
Mike Powell: historic leap

He did have shoes, but had undergone an operation for appendicitis only six weeks earlier.

It made no difference as Bikila once again set a world best time and said afterwards that he could have comfortably run a further 10km.

Later that year, he was presented with the BBC award by his emperor, Haile Selassie.

A hat-trick of marathon golds was denied him in 1968 when the recurrence of an injury forced him to drop out of the race.

The following year he suffered terrible injuries, including a broken neck, in a car crash. He was left paralysed and died four years later.

Over the years, skating has been a strong feature in the programme, but you would still surely have to be an aficionado of the sport to recall Protopopov and Ludmila Belousova, winners in 1968.

  Did you know?
Mal Meninga (90) and Jonah Lomu (95) are the only rugby players to have received the accolade

The husband and wife pairing won numerous world and European titles, before, to the chagrin of the Soviet authorities, defecting to Switzerland.

While most of these more mysterious winners come from the programme's earlier years, there are more recent examples of those who in a decade or so may not be instantly recognisable.

Powell broke one of the world's longest standing records in 1991, leaping past Bob Beaman's 23 year-old mark in the long jump, and in so doing winning the World Championship.

An Olympic silver followed a year later, but since then, well, nothing.


Beckham honour

The 2001 show

Winners profiled

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