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Sports Personality of the year 2010 front-runners

Amy Williams, Graeme McDowell, Jessica Ennis and AP McCoy
Amy Williams, Graeme McDowell, Jessica Ennis and AP McCoy are four potential contenders for this year's award

With Europe winning the Ryder Cup in one of the great sporting moments of the year, the debate over who will win this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year award has been blown wide open once again.

An action packed nine months of sport in 2010 means there is a whole host of potential candidates in the frame - across a wide range of sports.

This year's show will be held at the LG Arena in Birmingham on Sunday 19 December.

606: DEBATE

The top 10 will again be decided by a selection of leading newspaper and magazine sport editors who submit their nominations each year.

Based on the bookmakers' favourites, BBC Sport takes a look at some of the sports stars who could find themselves in with a chance of being crowned Sports Personality of the Year in December.

(in alphabetical order)

MARK CAVENDISH - CYCLING
Mark Cavendish
Cavendish came fourth in the 2009 Sports Personality vote

After a slow start to the season which was hindered by injury the 'Manx Missile' found his form when it counted with five stage wins in the Tour de France.

Cavendish followed that up by winning the points jersey at the Tour of Spain in September, becoming the first Briton in 21 years to earn the sprinters' title at a Grand Tour.

Once again Cavendish has proved he is the world's greatest sprinter on the road and while the Tour de France green jersey still eludes him, the 25-year-old looks primed for continued success.

SPOTY verdict: Cavendish came fourth at Sports Personality of the Year in 2009 and he could race his way into the top 10 again this year.

TOM DALEY - DIVING
Tom Daley
Daley won two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games

After a frustrating injury-plagued start to the season, Daley came back in dramatic fashion to win double-gold at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The 16-year-old, together with team mate Max Brick, won gold in the synchronised 10m platform competition.

A day later he held his nerve to defeat Olympic champion Matthew Mitcham to take 10m individual gold.

SPOTY verdict: Once again Daley has proved he is one of Britain's brightest prospects for 2012 and looks set to turn his dreams of Olympic gold into reality.

JESSICA ENNIS - HEPTATHLON
Jessica Ennis

How Ennis won European heptathlon gold

Great Britain's golden girl was at it again in 2010 winning European heptathlon gold after dominating in Barcelona.

The 24-year-old, who captained the British team at the Aviva International Match in Glasgow in January, showed her class leading from the front and outpacing Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska in the final event, the 800m.

Ennis will not compete again in 2010 as she focuses firmly on the 2011 World Championships and the London Olympics in 2012.

SPOTY verdict: Ennis came third at the 2009 Sports Personality awards, held in her home city of Sheffield and could be a threat once again.

MO FARAH - ATHLETICS
Mo Farah
Farah had the best season of his career in 2010

Farah finally came of age in 2010 when he stormed to gold for Great Britain in both the 5,000m and 10,000m at the European Championships in Barcelona.

The 27-year-old set a new British road record for the 10k in May and he also became the first Briton to run under 13 minutes over 5,000m when he shattered David Moorcroft's 28-year-old record at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich.

Farah announced his withdrawal from the 2010 Commonwealth Games because of fatigue but much will be expected of the Somalia-born athlete next year after this stunning season.

SPOTY verdict: Mo Farah is undoubtedly one of this year's success stories and the distance runner could cap his year off in style at SPOTY.

LEWIS HAMILTON - FORMULA 1
Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton was spoty runner up in Liverpool in 2008

As Formula 1 hurtles towards a potential five-way fight for the championship it is Hamilton who leads the British charge in his McLaren, trailing Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Red Bull's Mark Webber.

Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, has once again thrilled F1 fans with his exciting brand of driving, backed up by his irrepressible spirit.

The 2010 championship remains within his reach as he holds off fellow Briton and team-mate Jenson Button but the race for the title promises to go right to the final race in Abu Dhabi on 14 November.

SPOTY verdict: Hamilton was SPOTY runner up in 2008 and a second F1 world championship win this year could see him race into contention in Birmingham in December.

AP MCCOY - HORSE RACING
Tony McCoy on Don't Push It

Don't Push It wins the Grand National

McCoy, one of the greatest jump jockeys horse racing has ever seen, finally won the Grand National at his 15th attempt on Don't Push It this year.

The Northern Irishman has been jump racing's champion jockey every year since 1995/96 and has ridden over 3000 winners in his glittering career.

His victory at Aintree in April prompted a flood of emotion with trainer Jonjo O'Neill and racehorse owner JP McManus hailing the magnificent McCoy whose CV now finally includes winning the world's most famous horse race.

SPOTY verdict: McCoy has never won SPOTY but was third in 2002 and has been one of the bookies' favourites this year ever since his Grand National triumph.

GRAEME MCDOWELL - GOLF
Graeme McDowell
McDowell capped a fine year with Ryder Cup success

McDowell became Europe's first US Open champion for 40 years when he clinched his maiden major title in impressive fashion at Pebble Beach.

The Northern Irishman's victory also made him the first player from the United Kingdom to win a major since Paul Lawrie triumphed in the Open at Carnoustie in 1999.

To cap off a stunning year, McDowell won the final singles match at the Ryder Cup earning the point which won back the trophy for Europe.

SPOTY verdict: McDowell has had an incredible year which could thrust him into SPOTY contention.

PHIL TAYLOR - DARTS
Phil Taylor
Taylor has dominated darts winning 15 world titles

Taylor, 50, has had a stunning year, even by his own high standards, winning the World Championship, the European Championships, the Premier League, the UK Open and the World Matchplay.

The world number one, a 15-time world champion, thrilled fans when he hit two nine-dart finishes on his way to winning the Premier League title for a fifth time in May.

And the Stoke-on-Trent star continues to lead the way in darts with an unflinching consistency which has made him the greatest player of all time.

SPOTY verdict: Taylor's trophy cabinet is groaning under the weight of his achievements and his stunning year could yield a chance to take another trophy.

LEE WESTWOOD - GOLF
Lee Westwood
Westwood has finished second in two majors this year

Westwood has been simply superb this year, becoming world number one for the first time as he ended American Tiger Woods's 281-week reign at the top of the golf rankings.

The Nottinghamshire golferearned a career-best second place at the 2010 Masters Tournament and second place at the 2010 Open Championship as he consistently proved he can mix it with the world's finest players.

At the Ryder Cup Westwood was immense, leading by example and the 37-year-old could yet finish the year as the number one golfer in the world.

SPOTY verdict: Westwood has proved he is one of the best golfers in the world and a potential SPOTY top 10 contender.

AMY WILLIAMS - SKELETON BOBSLEIGH
Amy Williams

GB's Williams slides to Skeleton gold

What a year for Amy Williams, previously little known outside of her own sport, she won Britain's first solo Winter Olympics gold medal for 30 years with victory in the women's skeleton and subsequently became a star.

The Bath slider won Britain's only medal of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, despite having no full skeleton track to train on in her home country.

Many accolades followed the gold medal for Williams, who was appointed an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours and also became the first woman to be made a freeman of the City of Bath.

SPOTY verdict: Williams was the British star of the Winter Olympics and could shine brightly at SPOTY in December.

OTHERS IN THE FRAME

With three months still to go until Sports Personality of the Year there are plenty of other in with a chance of staking their claim for a place in the top 10 contenders list.

Gymnastic star Beth Tweddle recaptured her uneven bars title at the World Championships in Rotterdam after a stunning routine earned the three-time world gymnastics champion a score of 15.733 points.

Tweddle, 25, had said in 2007 that she planned to quit the sport in 2009 and would "be a spectator in 2012" - but she is now determined to carry on, which can only be good news for the Olympics in London.

Andy Murray says he needs to get physically stronger and improve his game if he is to challenge world number one Rafael Nadal. The Scot started the year by making the final of the Autralian Open only to fall to Roger Federer.

After being knocked out in the fourth round at the French Open, Murray reached the Wimbledon semi-final but was stopped by Nadal.

A surprise defeat in the third round of the US Open means Murray will finish the year without a slam but he could still win the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Graeme Swann
Swann has been one of England's stand-out performers this year

Amongst England's many successful cricketers in 2010, Graeme Swann has stood out and the spin bowler was shortlisted for the International Cricket Council's Cricketer of the Year award.

The Nottinghamshire player has already won the England and Wales Cricket Board's Men's Cricketer of the Year award, which is selected by the British media and remains England's major threat for the Ashes series against Australia late this year.

WBA world heavyweight champion David Haye stopped American John Ruiz at the MEN Arena in April in his first title defence. The Haymaker takes on fellow Briton Audley Harrison on 13 November with a win likely to put his name in the SPOTY frame.

And in Formula 1 a strong end to the season could yet see Jenson Button, runner-up at last year's Sports Personality, overtake his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the drivers standings and the SPOTY race.



see also
Sports Personality ticket details
13 Dec 10 |  Sports Personality
Cavendish wins Spain sprint title
19 Sep 10 |  Cycling
Ennis crowned European champion
31 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Farah sets British 5,000m record
20 Aug 10 |  Athletics
Can Button tame Hamilton?
14 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
McCoy ends wait for National win
11 Apr 10 |  Horse Racing
McDowell in historic US Open win
21 Jun 10 |  Golf
Taylor wins third European title
02 Aug 10 |  Darts
Williams slides to British gold
20 Feb 10 |  Skeleton
Sports Personality nominations
30 Nov 09 |  Sports Personality


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