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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 May 2007, 20:56 GMT 21:56 UK
Sports Personality favourites
Welsh boxer Joe CalzagheEngland cricketer Andrew FlintoffBoxer Ricky HattonF1 rookie Lewis HamiltonBoxer Amir KhanTennis star Andy MurrayAthlete Paula RadcliffeMan Utd striker Wayne RooneyEnglish golfer Justin RoseEngland rugby union star Jonny Wilkinson

By BBC Sport's Honest Frank
Our resident betting expert

Can you believe it? A third of the year gone, the sun is out and Britain has some sporting stars to shout about.

Well, as long as you discount the under-performing England football, cricket and rugby union teams.

606: SPORTS PERSONALITY DEBATE

The brighter moments have come from early 20-something individuals - tennis ace Andy Murray is already a title holder, while Lewis Hamilton has broken a Formula One rookie record.

Then there's boxing hopes such as Amir Khan, double-chasing footballer Wayne Rooney, and Euro star Steve Gerrard.

One look at the favourites for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award hints at what might be an unexpectedly exciting race for the 2007 trophy.

But remember, these are only the bookies' odds at this stage. The real vote takes place in December...

AWARD FAVOURITES
(Contender, odds, age, nationality, sport)

LEWIS HAMILTON 6-4 (22, English, Motorsport)
First rookie Formula One recruit to score podium finishes in his first three races. His record reads 3rd, 2nd, 2nd.

He might be in danger of having more seconds than Oliver Twist, but Hamilton - the first black F1 driver - looks a natural on the track.

Coming up: 13 May, Spanish GP, Barcelona.

Previous Sports Personality motorsport winners (7): 1996 Damon Hill, 1994 Damon Hill, 1992 Nigel Mansell, 1986 Nigel Mansell, 1973 Jackie Stewart, 1961 Stirling Moss, 1959 John Surtees.

Hamilton's impact can be judged by his profile surging into fifth gear on the blogosphere (online posts, to you and me):

Posts that contain Lewis Hamilton per day for the last 30 days.
Technorati Chart
Get your own chart!

ANDY MURRAY 2-1 (20, Scottish, Tennis)
Already in the world's top 10, Murray has come a long way in a short time.

Murray appears to be progressing at a faster rate than Britain's previous number one Tim Henman, who flirted with the idea but never actually won a Major.

Coming up: 27 May-10 June French Open, Roland Garros, Paris

Previous tennis winners (2): 1997 Greg Rusedski, 1977 Virginia Wade

BUBBLING UNDER

JOE CALZAGHE 25-1 (35, Welsh, Boxing)
He fights so hard, he keeps breaking his hand.

Calzaghe suffered a fracture during his 20th successful title defence, where he saw off Peter Manfredo Junior in front of a passionate Cardiff crowd in April.

The super middleweight, who is from Welsh and Italian stock but was born in London, is planning a return to the ring later in the year.

Coming up: Possible 'super fight' in September. To be confirmed.

Previous boxing winners (4): 1999 Lennox Lewis, 1985 Barry McGuigan, 1970 Henry Cooper, 1967 Henry Cooper

ANDREW FLINTOFF 25-1 (29, English, cricket)
One sign of a true sporting hero is how they bounce back from despair.

Or in Freddie's case, whether he can recover from falling off a pedalo when he should have been focused on the Cricket World Cup

Summer series against the West Indies and India will give the 2005 Ashes hero a chance to restore his reputation

Coming up: 17-21 May England v West Indies, 1st Test Lord's.

Previous cricket winners (3): 2005 Andrew Flintoff, 1981 Ian Botham, 1975 David Steele

RICKY HATTON 20-1 (28, English, Boxing)
What? A world champion - with a personality?

A former carpet fitter, the 'Hitman' has floored all-comers in an unbeaten 42-fight career.

The light welterweight is down to earth, celebrates victory with a loud-shirt party down his local with some old mates, and yet could become big in America if he stays lucky in Las Vegas.

Coming up: 23 June v Jose Luis Castillo, IBO Light Welterweight, Las Vegas

Previous boxing winners (4): 1999 Lennox Lewis, 1985 Barry McGuigan, 1970 Henry Cooper, 1967 Henry Cooper

AMIR KHAN 16-1 (20, English, Boxing)
Few sportsmen have managed to capture the support of two distinct communities, in this case British white and British Asian fight fans, in the way Khan has.

An Olympic silver medallist in 2004, the first young boxing star of the 21st century goes for win number 13 in the height of the summer at the old Millennium Dome.

Coming up: 14 July, v Commonwealth lightweight champion Willie Limond, 02 Arena, London.

Previous boxing winners (4): 1999 Lennox Lewis, 1985 Barry McGuigan, 1970 Henry Cooper, 1967 Henry Cooper

PAULA RADCLIFFE 20-1 (33, English, Athletics)
After a marathon labour, it is perhaps no surprise that new mum Paula is slightly reluctant to focus on any other kind of marathon.

She may miss the stamina-sapping event at the World Championships after suffering a stress fracture at the base of her spine when giving birth to daughter Isla in January.

But the 33-year-old is a glutton for punishment and could still compete over 10,000m in Japan.

Coming up: 25 Aug 10,000m. World Athletics Championship, Osaka, Japan

Previous athletics winners (16): 2004 Kelly Holmes, 2002 Paula Radcliffe, 1995 Jonathan Edwards, 1993 Linford Christie, 1991 Liz McColgan, 1987 Fatima Whitbread, 1983 Steve Cram, 1982 Daley Thompson, 1979 Sebastian Coe, 1978 Steve Ovett, 1974 Brendan Foster, 1968 David Hemery, 1964 Mary Rand, 1963 Dorothy Hyman, 1955 Gordon Pirie, 1954 Chris Chataway

WAYNE ROONEY 33-1 (21, English, Football)
It's been a shocker for England without Rooney, but he is still chasing a Premiership/Cup double on the club front with Manchester United.

His year could be defined in the next fortnight and two games against rivals Chelsea - a potential title decider and an FA Cup final showdown at the new Wembley.

Coming up: 9 May, Chelsea v Man Utd, Premiership; 19 May, Chelsea v Man Utd, FA Cup final, Wembley.

Previous football winners (4): 2001 David Beckham, 1998 Michael Owen, 1990 Paul Gascoigne, 1966 Bobby Moore

JUSTIN ROSE 20-1 (27, English, Golf)
As indicated in our first look at back at potential Sports Personality contenders in January, this could be a good year for British golf.

The South Africa-born Rose, who has made Hampshire his home, led and then finished tied fifth in the Masters at Augusta in April.

And the last time a Brit won a Major was in 1999 at Carnoustie, where this year's Open in July is being held.

Paul Lawrie, angry that he did not get full recognition for that win amid Jean van de Velde's watery antics, will be one of those on a mission.

Coming up: 14-17 June US Open, Oakmont, Pennsylvania

Previous golf winners (4): 1989 Nick Faldo, 1957 Dai Rees

JONNY WILKINSON 25-1 (26, English, Rugby Union)
Lazarus would have been proud as Wilko staged one of the great comebacks when he returned from injury to effectively beat Scotland single-handedly in the Six Nations.

He scored a Calcutta Cup record of 27 points in February's 42-20 win - and that after 1,169 days without appearing for England.

His form may have dipped afterwards, and France took the title, but the autumn's World Cup could see Wilko perform on the biggest stage again. And strange as it sounds, they are reigning world champions.

Coming up: 26 May South Africa v England, 1st Test (of 2),

Previous rugby union winners (1): 2003 Jonny Wilkinson

ALSO IN THE MIX

STEVE GERRARD 20-1 (26, English, Football)
He lifted the European Cup for Liverpool in 2005, and could repeat the trick if the Reds see off AC Milan again.

Stayed loyal to his hometown club when the money of Chelsea came calling, he has been one of the bright spots for England as well.

Opposition fans should prepare to close their ears if he skippers his club side to a sixth Euro triumph. "We've won it six times, we've won it six times..." those Liverpool supporters will be in baiting overdrive.

Coming up: 23 May, AC Milan v Liverpool, Champions League final, Athens.

Previous football winners (4): 2001 David Beckham, 1998 Michael Owen, 1990 Paul Gascoigne, 1966 Bobby Moore

JOHN TERRY 25-1 (26, English, Football)
Terry had the look of an angry man when his Chelsea side crashed out on penalties to Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final.

A solitary League Cup trophy will not mean a good year in his books. So the FA Cup and England's qualification for the 2008 European Championship may take on extra significance.

Coming up: 9 May, Chelsea v Man Utd, Premiership; 19 May, Chelsea v Man Utd, FA Cup final, Wembley.

Previous football winners (4): 2001 David Beckham, 1998 Michael Owen, 1990 Paul Gascoigne, 1966 Bobby Moore

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

JANUARY POLL
Vote on BBC Sport website for early Sports Personality fancies, Jan 2007
Murray 41.29%
Gerrard 9.23%
Panesar 9.22%
Rooney 5.35%
Calzaghe 5.27%
Khan 5.11%
Others 25%
From 16,500 votes cast
Proud father Heath emailed in to nominated his nine-year-old daughter for the BBC award after she became the youngest golfer to hit a hole in one.

Rhiannon Linacre, of Kirkby-in-Ashfield achieved the feat at the 116-yard 17th at Coxmoor Golf Club.

I'm told she first swung a club, aged seven, down the driving range. She set the record just 110 days after becoming eligible to join the club.

But then her dad has been a member for 27 years, and plays off a handicap of just two!

You can see Rhiannon in action by clicking on the link:

Elsewhere, I feel we are in danger of things being centred around English matters.

But we are the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation, so feel it's only right to say that Northern Ireland's record-breaking striker David Healy deserves a big mention.

He has scored nine goals himself in the Euro 2008 qualifying game. That is as many as the whole England team in six matches.

Northern Ireland top Group F, Scotland are second in Group B, with England fourth in Group E.

Meanwhile, you can check out the most popular sportsmen and women in the online trading game Sportdaq.

WHAT YOU ARE SAYING

You can create articles, comment or debate on the Sports Personality awards throughout the year.

Here's some brief highlights of what you have been saying...

"It has to go to Victoria Pendleton. Name one other sport where you currently have a simultaneous TRIPLE World Champion." (From Hockinsk)

"You do realise that by the time the ceremony comes around Wayne Rooney may have broken his international scoring drought, and if we qualify for the Euros off the back of him, then he'll be made a knight, let alone win SPOTY." (From Leenash)

"I would love Chris Paterson to win having kicked Scotland to victory in the Rugby World Cup. Sadly, this is the result of over optimistic day dreaming!!" (Spottedjock)

"James Toseland is having a storming season - he already has one world championship under his belt." (Berlingboy)



VOTE RESULTS
Calzaghe
 9.13% 
Flintoff
 0.77% 
Hatton
 2.45% 
Hamilton
 54.19% 
Khan
 2.74% 
Murray
 16.90% 
Radcliffe
 1.15% 
Rooney
 3.13% 
Rose
 1.32% 
Wilkinson
 2.90% 
Other
 5.32% 
12307 Votes Cast
Who is your tip now for Sports Personality 2007?

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