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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 21:49 GMT 22:49 UK
Your Sports Personality contenders
Tony McCoy is the most successful jump jockey ever, while Paula Radcliffe is winning titles for fun
Distance runner Paula Radcliffe is the bookies' favourite to win the BBC's coveted prize, while record-breaking jockey Tony McCoy is a rank outsider.

Which Brit should win on the evidence so far?

This debate is now closed.

Radcliffe has won the Commonwealth Games 5,000m, the European 10,000m title, the London Marathon and the World Cross Country title in a phenomenal year - and William Hill have her 1-4 for the Sports Personality award.

Meanwhile, McCoy recently claimed his 1,700th win to break Richard Dunwoody's record and stake a claim as the greatest jump jockey ever.

His odds have been cut from 100-1 by Hill's, but he is still a big outsider at 50-1.

Undisputed world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis is 3-1 after his demolition of Mike Tyson in June, while last year's winner David Beckham is 16-1.

Who will you be voting for come December?

The honour should go to one of the few British sportsmen who are really at the very top of their game in an international sense. Michael Owen: European footballer of the year, many of the top managers in Europe and most respected figures in football rate him the best striker in the world.

My choice would be Lee McConnell, absolutely fantastic debut season at 400m
Graham Clifford, Lincoln

Equally, David Beckham would walk into any side in the world and is one of the world's top two or three midfielders. The other performer of this calibre is rugby league's Paul Sculthorpe.

The standards of play in rugby league at the moment are extremely high in comparison with any sport, and Sculthorpe has shown his ability to compete at the level of the elite Australian players and would be much sought after in the NRL competition. Three men who are worthy British sporting champions indeed!
Paul Shelway, England

I believe Paul Sculthorpe should be the sports personality of the year for his outstanding contribution to the game of rugby league.
Paul Haithwaite, England

I think that Paula Radcliffe will win and rightly so, but my personal choice would be Lee McConnell, absolutely fantastic debut season at 400m.
Graham Clifford, Lincoln, UK

Whilst I do think Paula Radcliffe will win, and will be happy for her to, I'll be extremely disappointed if Paul Sculthorpe doesn't even get a mention. For the past two years he has carried St Helens and Great Britain Lions single-handedly.

It was beyond belief that he wasn't mentioned last year, the year he gained the Man of Steel and Players' Player of the Year awards and being outstanding in the ashes series, and only missed out on being in the World XIII because of his versatility.

Paul Scuthorpe will certainly captain his country one day - give him what he deserves
Alison, England

He got voted in second place in two positions. How many of you 'outstanding' soccer players could do that? And then this year he was the only British player that didn't look out of place in the disastrous test match versus Australia, has once again been the outstanding performer at St Helens, and is once again a front runner for Man of Steel.

This lad will certainly captain his country one day (and would be now if there was anyone with sense on the GB coaching team), yet how many people know who he is? Not many at all!

Give the lad what he deserves, or just a little mention to show that him putting his body on the line week in week out and playing his heart out for his country's pride isn't going unrecognised.
Alison, England

Not a real contender, but in my eyes a true sporting personality: Paula Craig. Not a name that many would recognise, but in May 2001, just one week away from the World Cup triathlon qualifiers, Paula was knocked off her bike whilst out training.

She sustained a fractured lower leg, a fractured shoulder blade, had her triceps torn from her elbow, but most devastating of all fractured her spine at T12 and is now permanently in a wheelchair. Many would give up, but not Paula.

After five long months in hospital, and an enormous amount of support from all those on the medical team, she came out fighting to get back to her sport. She invested in a racing wheelchair, trained hard and raced in this year's London Wheelchair Marathon, finishing around 2hrs 48mins.

Paula Craig is such an inspiration
S Dear, UK

Since then she has bought a hand cycle, trains even harder, and has qualified for a place in this year's triathlon World Cup in Cancun Mexico. She has had tremendous support from the charity Aspire (association for spinal injury research, rehabilitation and reintegration), and finds time for fund raising for them, working and training hard.

Paula took part in the Flora Light Challenge, starting right at the back, pushing the 5km in her day chair as she was not permitted to start at the front in her racing chair, and it would have been too dangerous in it anywhere in amongst the crowd. She is such an inspiration, such a sporting personality and I wish her every success in the future.
S Dear, UK

Let's just hope that the winner this year actually has a personality. David Beckham may be a good football player but is devoid of any personality whatsoever, Tim Henman doesn't have much of one either. My vote is between Paula Radcliffe and Jonathan Edwards.
Mike, UK

Paula Radcliffe should win easily with her fantastic performances throughout the year.
Tom Smith, England

Johnny from Liverpool clearly IS Emile Heskey. Heskey's no more our most important sporting person than I am!
Ken Jude, UK

Tony McCoy's consistent world class performances are worthy of recognition
Steve Kelly, UK

It's got to be Paula Radcliffe for being such an inspiration to me and all the other young female athletes.
Lizzy, England

David Beckham deserves to win hands down.
Tom, England

Tony McCoy takes my vote without hesitation. What he has achieved by the relatively young age of 28 is remarkable. His achievement may not make the headlines that other athletes make but this does not make his achievement any less worthy of an award.

It's frightening to think of what record he can now go on and set for the future, which will no doubt stand for many years to come. Regardless of whether you like horse racing or not, his consistent world class performances are worthy of recognition.
Steve Kelly, UK

Tim Henman is my contender. Tennis is the most competitive sport and he is in the top five in the world.
Sue Bloodworth, England

I nominate Martin Johnson, captain of Leicester Tigers, winners of the European Cup for the second year in succession, as well as four consecutive league titles.

All too often rugby union is overlooked in place of soccer or athletics. Martin is a great ambassador for the game of rugby, captaining not only his club side but the England side, as well as two Lions tours; he is a fine athlete and deserves this recognition.
Clive Woody, England

It has to go to Colin Jackson
Ant, UK

Phil 'The Power' Taylor - pure genius. No one goal wonders please, or Phil Babb, where did that come from?
Chris A, Scotland

As an ex-Loughborough athlete I'd love to vote for Paula, but she hasn't been going 16 years at the top of her sport, and doesn't hold a world record. Neither has Lennox Lewis for that matter, and he did loose, which in boxing is quite fundamental.

It has to go to Colin Jackson. You try being the UK's most successful athlete over the time period he has managed (not even Daley Thompson managed that long), and only Steve Redgrave comes near. Ironically the Olympics have been the only hurdle he hasn't demolished...
Ant, UK

Despite a recent setback, the England cricket team have undergone something of a sea change over the last 12 months. This is in large part due to the efforts of Nasser Hussain, whom I feel should be in there somewhere with a chance.

With a huge Test approaching (The Ashes), if all our top players are fit, the team has a good chance of reclaiming, or going close to reclaiming, the Ashes under his leadership.
Gray Rogers, Thailand

Stephen Lee who plays Snooker deserves it. He is a true sport and one of the best players and was unlucky not to win the Championship.
Joseph Bannon, England

I can't believe Phil Babb hasn't been nominated
Neal Maidment, England

No-one seems to be suggesting Charlie Spingett of Yeovil Town. Great bloke - Charlie: he would be my choice!
Graham Blackthorne, UK

The award is for success and should be renamed accordingly so that people don't get confused about it being a personality contest. A good example is that Emile Heskey was mentioned. What has he won in the last 12 months? Nothing. Beckham was chosen last year and what had he won? Nothing.

The award should be in recognition of true sporting greatness, for winners. This country should get out of the habit of supporting losers and support our winners. There are too many candidates to mention, but first, second and third places should go to out-and-out winners.
Lee, UK

I can't believe Phil Babb hasn't been nominated. The BBC seem to me to be trying to sway the voting Radcliffe's way, and she is a worthy winner, but Babb excelled in European football for two seasons and is now a lynchpin at Sunderland. He is a true personality and should be considered.
Neal Maidment, England

To be the best in any sport is a fantastic achievement. However, the competition is obviously a lot fiercer in those sports where more people in more countries participate.

You will always face more competition to be the best runner or best footballer in the world than to be, for example the best cricketer, jockey, golfer or boxer. How many Africans get the chance to play golf or are interested in cricket? It's simply a question of numbers.

Paul Sculthorpe should get the award
James Lacey, England

Paula has shown herself to be the best in one of the most widely contested sports. When I say the "best", this is not a subjective statement as it would have to be, if for instance I was declaring David Beckham to be the best footballer in the world. Paula is the best because she was first over the finish line - no debate.

Many British sportsmen and women have achieved a lot this year and for this I applaud them, but not as much as Paula.
Craig Green, UK

Lennox Lewis full stop, the whole world was watching. Who else can it be?
Moshood Adepoju, England

Jonny, Liverpool. You must be crazy! Emile Heskey has done nothing for England or Liverpool that would warrant a place in these sides, let alone a sports award! I look forward to the day that the England squad is not graced by his useless presence!
Andy Powell, England

I think Paul Sculthorpe should get the award. He has done everything right for the past two years, and personally, I think that a Super League player should receive the award for a change. His style of playing for St.Helens and Great Britain must give him a top contender's spot. If not, I would be severely disappointed.
James Lacey, England

Nasser Hussain, for his ambassadorial work overseas in very difficult circumstances - India post-Sept 11, and New Zealand with death of Ben Hollioake - as well as marvellous captaincy skills and some marvellous dogged batting.
Claire Mitchell, UK

Colin Jackson - a real role model who should be given the recognition he deserves
Marek Kriwald, England

I think the award should go to the best and most dominant world champion we have ever had - Phil Taylor - an unequalled record compared to anyone anywhere. Think I'm joking - you try and hit a nine-dart 501!
Bill Hayes, ENGLAND

My top three would be: 1) Tony McCoy. 2) Paula Radcliffe. 3) Greg Rusedski.
Wayne Kennedy, Ireland

Colin Jackson has to get the vote. He has now won more medals than any other British athlete. His reputation in the international arena for fair play, consistency and commitment is second to none. A true world champion and still the world record holder after nine years.

He always has something positive to say in every interview and does not criticise other competitors. A real role model who should be given the recognition he deserves during his final year of competition.
Marek Kriwald, England

I really hope that Paula wins, not just because she has achieved so much this year after years of battling against the odds, but also because she has done it all cleanly, honestly and with unbelievable modesty - not something we can say about all of our sports stars! She's also an active campaigner against drugs in sport; even though this leaves her open to criticism.

I also think that Colin Jackson and Steve Backley deserve a mention for the unbelievable achievement of four European titles - how many of our stars in any sport can claim European domination over a mighty period of twelve years?
Kerry Dixon, UK

Colin Jackson should be nominated. He is retiring this year, still at the top of his sport after over 16 years in athletics - excellent.
Kit, UK

I would like to see the British women's curling team get some recognition
Alex Sarmiento, USA

Surely there can only one winner of the overseas personality. Valentino Rossi is the world 500cc Motorcycle champion and is leading the championship again. As for personality... have you seen him ride in his chicken suit?
Ian Gibbons, England

I would like to see the British women's curling team get some recognition. I happened to see the gold medal final on TV and I was thrilled when Rhona Martin and company managed to score at the very last moment, winning Great Britain's first Winter Olympic gold medal in 18 years, even though no one gave the Scottish women a chance.
Alex Sarmiento, USA

Rob C - what were you on when you said "Paula Radcliffe's only significant win was the London Marathon. She hasn't won anything else that would class her as the best"?

What about being double World Cross Country champion, double world half-marathon champion (as well as the current Great North run champion), 5000m Commonwealth gold medallist, 10,000m European gold medallist and London Marathon winner?!

Furthermore, she has won all of these events in style - leading from the front and demolishing quality fields, smashing British/European/Commonwealth records, setting the fastest debut marathon time ever (also the second fastest in history) and also the second fastest 10,000m time in history (which is really the fastest as the existing record is dubious).

The award should go to Alec Stewart. He has had an outstanding career: consider the fact that during the nineties it wasn't Tendulkar or Lara who scored the most runs, but our Alec
Nigel, England

And the best thing about it all is that she has achieved all of this through sheer hard work, guts and determination (and enormous talent of course). Paula wins my vote, no question. She is an inspiration to us all. Good luck in Chicago, Paula!
Dave, UK

Could someone please explain to the dunce who thinks this is a personality contest that it's just a phrase. It sounds better than "BBC Sportsman or woman of the year". Get it! It does however raise an interesting idea. How about awarding Roy Keane, BBC Sports split-personality of the year.
Jim Donovan, England

What Paula has done has been incredible and in any normal year would see her win. However, Tony McCoy's achievements are a once in a lifetime type thing. He has to win and strike a blow for the less popular sports.
Nigel D, England

I have to agree with Thomas Moquet that the award should go to Alec Stewart. He has had an outstanding career: consider the fact that during the nineties it wasn't Tendulkar or Lara who scored the most runs, but our Alec.

In fact, his world-class batting average of 40 would be about 50 if he didn't serve England so well as a wicket-keeper. He is an exciting player and a true gentleman. Hats off.
Nigel, England

Paula Radcliffe's only significant win was the London Marathon; she hasn't won anything else that would class her as the best. I have no doubt that she will but at present I don't think she deserves to be paraded as Britain's best sportsperson.

Lennox Lewis on the other hand has beaten everyone that comes in front of him, surely that is the sign of a true champion. AP McCoy, not heard much about him but surely it is the horse that does most of the work and he has chosen the right horses, good for him!
Rob C, Milton Keynes, England

I can't believe that nobody has mentioned Emile Heskey
Johnny, Liverpool

Alec Stewart Should win the award. He has passed Michael Atherton this season in the table for amount of runs scored for his country. However as cricket is so out of 'vogue' and seems to be nearly ignored by the press I think this one is unlikely...
Thomas Moquet, England

Have people forgotten what 'personality' means? David Beckham is a great player - but personality NO! Without a doubt this year's winner should be Ronnie the Rocket O'Sullivan, who has achieved so much in winning the world champs and has got a personality as well!
Manesh Littlestone, UK

I can't believe that nobody has mentioned Emile Heskey. His performances for Liverpool last year were consistently brilliant, and he has proved that he will score goals from anywhere. Added to that, he illuminated the World Cup with his sensational talent and lethal finishing, and took England to the latter stages.
Johnny, Liverpool

Paula Radcliffe should probably win, just for sheer determination. If the great British public vote for David Beckham or Michael Owen or any other footballer, then I think the programme should be scrapped. There are hundreds of sports men and women in this country who deserve the award more then any footballer.

As the public don't get to vote for the overseas winner - I'd just like to say that if anyone except Ian Thorpe wins then again drop the whole programme.
Morag McConnell, UK

Lennox Lewis deserves the award
Gary Hayes, England

As a former athlete and a Loughborough graduate, I have to pledge my allegiance to Paula.
R Green, England

British sport has had a pretty good year. We are lucky to have such a diverse collection of sports men and women. And that's why it is so hard for us to pick a winner.

The sports personality award should really be about a commitment over the 12 months. Lewis won one fight, that doesn't make him the winner. Radcliffe on the other hand - 10,000 European Champion, Cross Country Champion and London Marathon winner. That to me is an all year-round commitment and she (for me) is the sports personality winner...Tony McCoy ain't done too badly either!
Peter Short, Kettering, England

100m sprinter Dwain Chambers gets my vote. He has consistently run well this season, winning the European games gold medal. His victory at Crystal Palace last Friday shows he could be the best sprinter in the world at the moment.
Dean Osborn, UK

Lennox Lewis deserves the award as he has proved himself as the outright best in his sport, something no one else has really done.

He doesn't really get all the credit he deserves for his massive achievements!
Gary Hayes, England

Ferrari's dominance of F1 has easily earned the award
David Priddy, UK

The debate on who is most deserving of the Sports Personality of the Year is a little strange. Some people seem to think that it is a government award for the most worthy sportsman/woman of the last 12 months. It isn't. It is a TV channel popularity pole and nothing else.
Simon Martin, Yorkshire

Tony McCoy's achievements are outstanding and he deserves every plaudit heaped upon him, but let's be realistic - does anybody outside UK & Ireland know who he is? Indeed, does even the great British public know who he is?

Paula Radcliffe this year has raised the standards of distance running and she's only just started! Let's wait and she what she does in the Chicago Marathon, after which odds of 1-4 may seem good value!

For the Overseas sportsman the BBC should look no further than Ian Thorpe, and for overseas team, if such an award exists, Ferrari's dominance of F1 has easily earned the award, although their treating it as a business and not a sport may count against them perhaps.

As for home team, that's trickier. Looks to me that if the European Ryder Cup teams wins they'll walk it because there's so little competition!
David Priddy, UK

Dwain Chambers... the award is for personality and he has more of that any anybody else mentioned (not to mention he has established himself as the best in the world this year in the most prestigious blue ribbon event). He is the fastest man in the world!
Nigel, England

It has to be AP McCoy, there is no other sportsperson in the country who is so dedicated to their profession
Tim Darby, England

Paula Radcliffe. Watching her run the London Marathon was spine-tingling and awe inspiring!
Ian Marlow, UK

Paula 100%
P Ujro, England

Steve Backley would be my choice for winning four golds
Barry Williamson, UK

Paula Radcliffe all the way. Not only does she actually have a personality, but she is also at the top of her sport and an inspiration.
Kris, England

Hopefully it will be someone like Paula Radcliffe. I think it's a bit of a misnomer to give the Sports 'personality' award to someone like David Beckham as he simply doesn't have one - "you know"?
Dave B, UK

Jane Tomlinson - what courage and tenacity. Terminally ill yet she does the London Marathon and the Triathlon. Her achievements put our day-to-day little problems (and dare one say the whinging of so many top sportspeople) into context.
Judy Howlett, England

It has to be AP McCoy, there is no other sportsperson in the country who is so dedicated to their profession; nor is there anyone who is so dominant. It's about time the country, and world, realised his pure genius.
Tim Darby, England

It has to be McCoy. He is the greatest sportsman never, mind jockey, in the world.
Leory, Scotland

Paula Radcliffe - for her sheer guts and determination as well as her talent.
Pippa, UK

David Beckham? What on earth has he done to merit a mention?
Amjad Khan, England

My vote would go to Nigel Short. Not had the best of years but has still got all the moves.
Curly G, England

Paula Radcliffe without question. The only other person in the frame should be Lennox Lewis.
Lee Wykes, England

For sheer hard work and determination over many years it has to be Paula Radcliffe. I think a number of our overpaid footballers could learn from the example she has set - an ideal role-model and an inspiration to sports people all over the world.
Ken Lucas, UK

Should the title of the award not be most successful sports person? I don't recall many of the previous winners having particularly captivating personalities.
Mike S, scotland

David Beckham? What on earth has he done to merit a mention? He was useless in the World Cup when the whole world was watching. I remember reading a billboard whilst driving to Birmingham, it read: COMETH THE HOUR.

That hour came and went and nothing happened. It's about time people realised that he is an overrated footballer and if he were to win this award I would never watch these awards ever again!
Amjad Khan, England

AP McCoy. However, he stands no chance of winning. The award should be voted for by a panel of judges rather than the public, who will always pick people from high publicity, main-stream sports.

This was clearly demonstrated when Carl Fogarty won the World Super Bike Title for the fourth time. A great world sporting achievement, yet it was not recognised by the winning of this award. Let's have the award given to someone who has achieved rather than making it a popularity contest.
Gavin L, UK

Paula Radcliffe is as much a dead-cert as Steve Redgrave was in 2000
Alastair Tomlinson, Wales

My vote will go to Paula Radcliffe. She deserves the award for such dedication to her sport and for what she has achieved. We were in the stadium when she ran at the Commonwealth Games, it was an experience I shall never forget.
Mark Berman, England

Paula Radcliffe is as much a dead-cert as Steve Redgrave was in 2000. The only other British sportspeople who can claim to have the same level of dominance in their sport are Lennox Lewis (magnificent in a generally poor world heavyweight division) and Phil Taylor (bestriding the world of darts like a colossus).

In some ways it would be nice to see a minority sport like darts pick up an award, but for me Paula's performances outweigh them all - they have been unmissable and I can't wait for the Chicago marathon to see whether she can crack that world record. Go for it Paula!
Alastair Tomlinson, Wales

I sincerely hope that Paula Radcliffe does not win this award. Her disgraceful "EPO cheat" protest during the race of a Russian opponent who had not been found guilty of any offence by the sport's governing body was unsporting and smacked of sour grapes.

My vote goes to our sprinting sensation Mr.Chambers who has defeated the best in the world on four occasions this season, not just the best available from Europe and the Commonwealth countries.
Sandro, UK

I think that the focus of this award has to be changed back to what surely was its original intention: Personality. It's not about who's won the most - it's about how they've done it.

I think Paula Radcliffe is a good choice. Better than 1998 when Michael Owen won it for his brilliant goal against Argentina in the World Cup, overlooking the fact that he has less personality than my big toe.
Jonathan, England

Paula Radcliffe. No question
Van Martin, England

No-one seems to have considered Sarah Price for this award; what about her swimming golds?! She has been England's most successful swimmer in recent times, surely she deserves some recognition for her acheivements?
Ben Hibberd, Herts, England

I think Paula Radcliffe will win! She has had an AMAZING year, after years and years of preparation for these special occasions. She deserves to be recognised for this and her efforts and for what she has done for women runners in Britain. Way to go Paula!
Paul C, N. Ireland

Lennox Lewis thoroughly deserves this award. There aren't many bigger occasions than a heavyweight title fight and Lennox stepped up to the challenge perfectly.
Ben Franklin, UK

Should go to Britain's best and longest-reigning boxing world champ, Joe Calzaghe. Of course, he probably won't even get a mention like last year when most of the boxing section of the programme was devoted to Audrey Harrison and that loser Naz.
Dave Dominguez, Mumbles, Wales

Lennox Lewis must get this award. He has shown to the world that he is the undisputed heavyweight and up there with the greats. He is a true icon and a good personality for a sport which tends to get a bad press.
Dave, England

There is no question that Paula Radcliffe should. The problem is the God-like status that Beckham has over the country and amount of people that watch his sport. I hope that pure quality will win or popularity!
William Atkinson, England

Paula Radcliffe. No question.
Van Martin, England

I'll definitely be voting for Paula Radcliffe. Got to really - she lives just round the corner from me!
Chris B, Bedford, England

See also:

07 Aug 02 | European Athletics
27 Aug 02 | Horse Racing
09 Jun 02 | Lewis v Tyson fight
10 Dec 01 | Sports Personality
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