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Page last updated at 17:01 GMT, Tuesday, 26 August 2008 18:01 UK

Who will win Sports Personality?

By Frank Keogh

Nineteen gold medals in Britain's best Olympic performance for a century - the choice will be tricky when the public decides who should be the 2008 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Team GB's heroics at the Beijing Games have seen the bookmakers rip up their odds for the big award in December.

SPORTS EDITORS BLOG
Sports Personality of the Year editor Carl Doran
Double gold medal-winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington and cyclist Chris Hoy, a triple champion in China, are now rated among the leading contenders.

But there are a host of other candidates, and there's no guarantee the coveted honour will even go to an Olympian, with Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton still prominent in the betting.

Here, we look at the market leaders for the award. But remember, these are only the bookies' odds - the public will decide the real winner in December.

NAMES IN THE FRAME

Odds based on average from different bookmakers.

REBECCA ADLINGTON 2-1 (19, English, Swimming)
You've really made it when a local boozer is named after you - the King's Head, Duke of York, Robin Hood, that kind of thing.

Video - Adlington overwhelmed by second gold

And double Olympic champion will soon be able to toast her own success in the Adlington Arms, Mansfield. It used to be a Yates's.

Still in her teens, Becky was barely a household name in her own house a few weeks ago. Now she's queen of the pool following her 400m and 800m wins to become Britain's most successful swimmer for 100 years.

Expect to see her profile raised further with appearances on the Top Gear and Question of Sport television programmes.

PS. The Red Lion is officially the most popular name for a British pub.


CHRIS HOY 5-2 (32, Scottish, Cycling)
Hoy had already made a name for himself - and he's now made a few nicknames as well.

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Video - Third gold for Hoy

The Real McHoy, His Royal Hoyness, Hoy Wonder, Hoy of the Rovers, (OK, I made the last two up).

Just call him unbeatable. Triple champion. Scotland's most decorated Olympian.

Hoy powered to victory in the team sprint and keirin and capped his hat-trick in the individual sprint.

PS. Hoy played a pin-striped businessman on a bike during the London handover section of the Olympics closing ceremony.


LEWIS HAMILTON 5-2 (23, English, Motorsport)
While the world has been fussing on a little thing like the Olympics, a British sportsman continues to motor ahead of his rivals.

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton leads the Formula One drivers' championship

Formula One ace Hamilton fought off flu-like symptoms and neck spasms to finish second in the European Grand Prix in Valencia on Sunday.

His doctor said it was a miracle the McLaren driver made it to qualifying.

Hamilton, runner-up in the 2007 BBC award behind Joe Calzaghe, leads the world championship by six points with six races to go.

He has a bit of history on his side - F1 drivers Damon Hill (1996) and Nigel Mansell (1992) won the Sports Personality public vote in Olympic years.

PS. The F1 season ends on 2 November with the final GP at Interlagos, Brazil.


CHRISTINE OHURUOGU 10-1 (24, English, Athletics)
Ohuruogu does not do seconds. Three major championships, three gold medals and she's now commonwealth, world and Olympic champion.

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Video - Watch Christine Ohuruogu's thrilling 400m race (UK users only)

Born in Stratford, east London, within walking distance of the site of the 2012 athletics stadium, she looks set to be a poster girl for the Games.

After her stirring victory in Beijing, Ohuruogu was annoyed about the focus on her past - she completed a one-year ban in 2007 for missing three out-of competition drugs tests.

She wants to do her talking on the track and was the first British woman to take the Olympic 400m crown.

PS. It could be a battle of the Ohuruogus at London 2012. Younger sister Victoria, 15, has won sprint medals at the last two English Schools Championships.


BEN AINSLIE 20-1 (31, English, Sailing)
Britannia rules the waves and leading the charge is serial thriller Ben Ainslie.

He won the Finn class to claim his third gold medal from three consecutive Games, officially making him Britain's most successful Olympic sailor.

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Ainslie wins third Olympic gold

The triumph prompted Olympic chief Jacques Rogge to compare his achievements with record breakers Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.

Ainslie, who was born in Macclesfield, grew up in Mansfield and now lives in Hampshire, started sailing at the age of eight.

PS: Ainslie has not ruled out 'doing a Redgrave' and bidding to win gold at five consecutive Games. He will be 39 in 2016.


ANDY MURRAY 25-1 (21, Scottish, Tennis)
Murray has joined a small group of players bidding to threaten the tennis stranglehold enjoyed by the sport's top two, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Andy Murray
Murray was Mr Muscle as he progressed at Wimbledon

He made the last eight at Wimbledon to help secure a place in the top six of the world rankings for the first time.

While his Olympics debut ended early, the Scot has shown he has the big-game temperament, as illustrated by his victory in the Masters event in Cincinnati.

He cruised through to the second round of the US Open, and insists he can go all the way at Flushing Meadows.

PS. More than 10m TV viewers tuned in for Murray's epic five-set Wimbledon win over Richard Gasquet.

THE BEST OF THE REST

The bookmakers have a whole clutch of Olympians rated at around 33-1 chances, just behind the top six.

GB cyclists dominated the Games, so ladies first...

Rebecca Romero
Who knows what to expect next from individual pursuit winner Rebecca Romero?

She won a silver medal in rowing at the Athens Games in 2004, and was a gold medallist in cycling just two years after taking up the sport.

Victoria Pendleton
Then we come to women's sprint champion Victoria Pendleton, from Hitchin, the cycling queen of Herts.

She has urged the London 2012 organisers to introduce more cycling events for women. That will mean more gold for her then, presumably.

Nicole Cooke
Another female cyclist, Nicole Cooke, started the gold rush for Team GB when she gritted out victory in the gruelling road race.

Cooke, who was fifth in Athens, will find plenty of support from her homeland of Wales, which produced the 2007 Sports Personality in Joe Calzaghe.

Bradley Wiggins
It's difficult to know where to stop with Britain's brilliant cyclists, but a special mention must go to Bradley Wiggins.

Wiggins, a Londoner who was born in Belgium, retained his 4000m individual pursuit title and collected another gold in the team pursuit.

Whereas Britain pedalled to its first gold medal in Beijing, the last came in the boxing ring.

James DeGale
Lively James DeGale shrugged off a bite on his chest from his Cuban opponent to take middleweight gold.

Other individual gold medallists, sailor Paul Goodison and canoeist Tim Brabants, will also have their supporters.

That's before we even mention the men's coxless four rowers, GB's three blondes in a Yingling boat, the lightweight sculls, Paralympian swimmer David Roberts, who equalled Tanni Grey-Thompson's 11 gold medals, four-time gold medal-winning Paralympic cyclist Darren Kenny, the list goes on...

TIME TO MAKE A MARK?

With more than three months to the big award, there remains time for a sportsman or woman to enter the equation.

But the year is running out of big events, so the most likely source is the Ryder Cup in Kentucky.

Reigning champions Europe take on the United States in their own back yard from 19 to 21 September and there is sure to be drama.



see also
Team GB's roll of honour
23 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Liverpool gets Sports Personality
22 Feb 08 |  Sports Personality
Who will win Sports Personality?
18 Apr 08 |  Sport Homepage


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