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Young Sports Personality: The top three

Tom Daley, Laura Robson and Eleanor Simmonds

Sports Personality of the Year
Venue: Liverpool Echo Arena Date: Sunday, 14 December Time: 1900 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 Live & BBC Sport website.


Tom Daley, Laura Robson and Eleanor Simmonds have been selected as the final three names in the shortlist for the 2008 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award.

PREVIOUS WINNERS
2007 Tom Daley
2006 Theo Walcott
2005 Harry Aikines-Aryeetey
2004 Andrew Murray
2003 Kate Haywood
2002 Wayne Rooney
2001 Amy Spencer

The trio, made up of diving sensation Daley, Girls Junior Wimbledon champion Robson and double Paralympic gold medallist Simmonds, were chosen by a panel chaired by BBC Sport presenter John Inverdale.

It also included fellow BBC Sport presenter Jake Humphrey, former winners Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and Kate Haywood, and representatives of the Youth Sport Trust.

They had the tricky task of whittling down a list of 10 contenders that also included canoeing's Tom Brady, taekwondo player Aaron Cook, cyclist Sam Harrison, sailor James Peters, motor racing's Scott Redding, swimmer Elizabeth Simmonds and sprinter Shaunna Thompson.

"It was a very difficult task to get our initial 10, turning that into three proved almost impossible," said Humphrey.

"This is my second year on the panel, but the more experienced guys all agreed that there has rarely been a year as impressive or competitive. All 10 would have been deserving of an award to celebrate a fantastic year but we eventually settled on the three."

606: DEBATE

The overall winner will be announced at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year event on Sunday 14 December.

Below are profiles on each of the trio (in alphabetical order) with an explanation from Jake as to why they deserve to be on the final shortlist.

For full details on the terms and conditions of the voting and judging click on the link below.

Tom Daley
Tom Daley, 14
Diving

Tom is not only a famous face in Britain but he became a global superstar thanks to the media coverage devoted to him at the Beijing Olympics.

BBC Switch catches up with Tom

The attention did not come as a surprise because at just the age of 14, Tom was ranked as one of world's top divers and went into the Games having become the youngest person to win gold at the European Swimming Championships and the youngest person to win a medal at a world diving event.

In Beijing, the Plymouth-based athlete reached the 2008 Olympic finals in both 10m synchro, along with Blake Aldridge, and individual platform competition, coming eighth and seventh, respectively.

Last year's Young Personality winner then went on to collect two silvers at the Fina Junior World Diving Championships.

Tom is currently ranked fourth in the senior Fina rankings for the 10m platform.

Jake says:

Tom has been a revelation since he first started making headlines and scoring wins.

The fact he was the youngest competitor in Beijing, is an engaging and interesting guy away from the diving board and has continued to improve, learn and enjoy success meant he was always a contender for the final three.

Not only did he make it to Beijing but he also managed to qualify for the finals at his very first Games. He's had a year to be very proud of.

Laura Robson
Laura Robson, 14
Tennis

Laura ended 24 years of British hurt this summer on the lush green grass at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Watch Laura win the Wimbledon title

The 14-year-old brushed aside all-comers to win the girls junior title and become the first Great Britain player to win a Wimbledon singles crown since Annabel Croft in 1984.

The Londoner was also the youngest competitor at Wimbledon this year, although her age did not stop the feisty teenager from choosing to move up to senior level.

In doing so, Laura broke another record by becoming the youngest Briton to compete in the WTA Tour when she took part at the Fortis Championships in Luxembourg.

And Laura's tennis year ended on another high when she won her first ever ITF title, in Sunderland.

Jake says:

Laura is just what British tennis is crying out for - a winner. It's important to remember the pressure she had to deal with on the way to winning Wimbledon.

She had previously competed in much lower profile events in front of a few hundred spectators, yet at SW19 she looked like she was born to play on Number 1 Court.

The huge TV audience and press interest didn't faze her and she achieved a monumental feat. She was the youngest competitor at Wimbledon, has gone on to a pro-career and her success continues to generate interest.

Eleanor Simmonds
Eleanor Simmonds, 14
Disability swimming

Eleanor produced two of the great sporting performances witnessed in Beijing this summer.

Eleanor receives a great reception on her return

The 14-year-old, originally from Walsall, powered her way to double Paralympic gold success in the pool - winning 100m freestyle and 400m freestyle - having competed in five events during the Games.

It gave Eleanor the accolade of becoming the nation's youngest-ever individual Paralympics gold medallist at the age of 13.

The Swansea-based swimmer is also the world record holder in 400m freestyle S6 having broken the record both at the Paralympics and British Championships.

Eleanor, who was given a hero's welcome when she returned to school in Swansea after competing in China, has now set her sights on more gold at London 2012.

Jake says:

Just like Tom and Laura, Eleanor has become a recognisable face of British sporting success at an incredibly young age.

Her double gold and world-record breaking performance in Beijing was one of the highlights in an incredible satisfying sporting year for the nation.

She is role model to young athletes, youngsters with disabilities, and her fellow top-class competitors. She won her medals while swimming against adults in the most testing and pressurized of environments.

Her personality and enthusiasm shines through away from the pool and she is set to become an even bigger star in the coming years as our focus turns to London 2012.


SPORTS PERSONALITY:
Sun 14 Dec, 1900 GMT,
BBC One & BBC Radio 5 Live.

see also
Young Sports Personality: The top 10
12 Nov 08 |  Sports Personality
Sprinter Harry handed BBC honour
11 Dec 05 |  Sport Academy
Walcott remembers his win
08 Oct 08 |  Sports Personality


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