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Last Updated: Friday, 19 November, 2004, 12:56 GMT
The story behind the trophy
By Lewis Wiltshire

By today's standards, it did not cost very much when it was first created.

But four decades later, the trophy presented annually to the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year is now considered priceless.

That is because this silver-plated four-turret lens camera, which cost around 1,000 when it was created in the 1950s, has become part of British sporting folklore.

Along the way the trophy has found its way on to the mantelpieces of, among others, Jim Laker, Stirling Moss, Bobby Moore, Ian Botham and David Beckham.

Sports Personality of the Year trophy
First winner
Chris Chataway 1954
Last winner
Jonny Wilkinson 2003

Chris White, a senior sports studio manager at the BBC who has worked on many Sports Review of the Year programmes, is well versed in the history of the trophy itself.

"It used to have one plinth on it but it's now got three, because over the years we just had to keep adding another plinth to put little shields on.

"So it's now probably about six to eight inches taller than it was originally." he said.

The trophy presented to this year's winner will be the original which was given to the first winner, athlete Chris Chataway, in 1954.

But, since 1981, there has also been a replica.

That was the year Ian Botham won and, because the cricketer was in Australia for the winter, an identical trophy had to be on hand Down Under as the votes came in.

"So now we have two", said White.

"The original one is always there on the night, and you can't tell the difference unless you rub your hand on the bottom because the original one has a hole there!"

Winners keep the original trophy for around eight or nine months, before the BBC collects it to prepare for the next show.

Perhaps surprisingly, the trophy has never been lost or come back damaged.

It was a marvellous compliment to be paid
Sir Henry Cooper
Winner 1967, 1970

It is nevertheless given a polish and a clean and on the night is presented to that year's winner. But they do not take it with them immediately.

Instead their name has to be engraved on - the Sports Review team never like to put the name on ahead of their show even when they know who has won.

That can lead to problems, such as in 1999 when Muhammad Ali was given the Sports Personality of the Century prize.

The former heavyweight boxing champion was returning to America the following morning and wanted to take his trophy with him.

So a quick dash to the engravers as soon as they opened on Monday was necessary!

Normally there is a bit more time to spare and the award is engraved before Christmas.

"It will be delivered to them, deliberately, just before Christmas", said White.

"It's one of these strange things where a lot of people actually want it to put on their Christmas table."

White always enjoys watching the reaction of the winner and points to the example of Steve Redgrave in 2000.

"He was absolutely overwhelmed that he'd won this thing," said White.

"Even though he'd won five gold medals he saw it as the pinnacle.

"He said he'd been coming to Sports Review of the Year for many years and now he'd won it. They are flabbergasted when they get it, which is a nice reaction after all these years of the programme."

Links to more Sports Personality stories



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