Sports Personality of the Year… if you’re a man.

The only television programme that I ever plan to watch (in case the rabidly tenacious television license inspector is reading this, I know it is hard to believe but my wife and I really DON’T own a TV!) is the Sports Personality of the Year awards show and I have probably seen every year for the last decade. But I am not sure whether it is me getting older or the programme changing, but I increasingly feel dissatisfied by the shortlists. This year is no exception.

SPOTY... for men (and only really male golfers at that)








I have never really got on with the ‘Personality’ element of the programme’s title – it is surely about prowess or achievement, rather than personality (I know, I know… that is not what the title is referring to!) but now there seems to be a complete disconnect between what has happened in the sports that I have been following in the last 12 months and what the programme features. But I am not going to get into that debate right now.

The Running and Endurance Sports Performances of the Year awards

Instead I am going to take affirmative action. I am going to start my own awards – the Running and Endurance Sports Performances of the Year awards – or RESPYs – one for men and one for women. And I would like you to nominate your favourites so that by that deadly quiet period between Christmas and New Year, I have a shortlist of athletes whose performances we all believe are worth of praise and recognition and then I’ll set up a vote to pick a winner.

So if you would like to nominate an athlete or two (or more, I am happy with as big a list as possible) please comment on this post or email me at with the following;

Name of the athlete
Discipline (or disciplines)
Reason for nomination

The first nominee

As I am the editor here I’ll start the list off with one of my own favourite athletes and someone who I believe deserves huge praise and recognition –

Name of athlete – Chrissie Wellington
Discipline – Ironman triathlon
Reason for nomination – Chrissie Wellington’s year was phenomenal – 5 races, 5 victories (Ironman South Africa, K-Swiss Ironman 70.3, Challenge Roth Ironman, Timberman 70.3 and Ford Ironman World Championships) and for that alone she gets my vote for the women’s Running and Endurance Sports Performances of the Year award. But her last race is so outstanding that it almost defies belief. Already a three time world Ironman champion, Chrissie travelled to Kona having been forced to miss last year’s race through illness. Few doubted that she would return and regain her crown, but that was before she has a tremendous crash on the bike and took most of the skin off her legs a few weeks before the race. Nevertheless, Chrissie turned up at Kona and battled through great pain and discomfort to win an incredible victory. Her account of the race is here. I believe that the last race of the year is justification enough for Chrissie winning the award but add to that her other victories this year and her unstinting work for charity, and I think that Chrissie deserves the inaugural women’s RESPY.

Chrissie Wellington photos by Larry Maurer,

19 thoughts on “Sports Personality of the Year… if you’re a man.

  1. Hello Simon

    I think this is an excellent idea. The method used to pick the official 10 sportsmen (did they all know they could nominate women? After all the Manchester paper voted for foreigners!) is nothing short of madness. Whilst we need to accept that not all sports carry equal rating there was the feeling that a martian was allowed to chose the names after they were allowed to look at the back page only of a couple on newspapers.

    Having said that I would still vote for Mo Farah.

    Running Shoes London / @runningclub

  2. I would like to put in my vote for Ron Hill. Having voted for Ron in SPOTY every year since 1954 when the award was first created I think it is high time he was recognised for being the ‘toughest b*stard on two legs’.

    I thought the biggest insult was last year when what is techinically a midget that whips a 4 legged wild beast won ahead of Ron, but to yet again not shortlist him is beyond a joke now. I was so incensed that I went around my house and took out all of the number 1 & 2 buttons on my remote, this did turn out to be a complete balls up as I have Sky and have now lost at least the first 200 channels, plus I later found out the You Bet re-run of the fella that can name all the Eddie Stobart fleet from 1984 with Matthew Kelly is on channel 122 tonight – for god sake.

    Anyway back to Ron. Look at the current crop of British distance runners and Ron would have any of them, either on the road, on the track, at the bar or bare knuckle fighting behind Silcocks Funfair on Bennett’s Wreck. Rumour has it that Andi Jones only got the Preston 10 record a fortnight ago because Ron was dragging him around the course, at the finish Ron refused to cross the line as they were giving out ‘goody bags’, and in the words of Ron himself ‘other crap like that which has ruined road racing in this country’.

    I tell thee, the likes of Lemoncello and Jones want to learn a few things from Ron with their race drop outs, cramps and blisters. I remember when Ron were a lad he had an injury or two, the first one was “a broken sternum which also damaged his heart”, even I doubted Ron when he only managed a mile the next day but I will let him off – a mile with a broken sternum just about counts as a run. Oh, and the time when he ran with a broken humerus, he managed two miles with that – just the two miles with a broken arm.

    SO FOR ME IT’S VOTE RON. You can stick your gels, your ice baths, your running shoes, your garmins, your running with both arms not broken, your intact sternums, all of them, stick them up your bum – just give me Ron and his northern tough b@stard approach. Run hard and don’t be sh1t.

    Mr Tough B@stard MBE, BSc, PhD – to give him his full title.

  3. can’t look beyond chrissie wellington, her achievements have been oustanding, and her lack of recognition is a total joke. Ironman is a minority sport, but doesn’t mean that our media shouldn’t take the opportunity to highlight such a fantastic athlete, especially as it will go out on bbc, no requirement to sex up the nominations to sell more adverts.

  4. Interesting idea, Simon!

    I can’t really see past agreeing with you and nomination Chrissie. I think she’s done in the ironman what the likes of Grete Waitz did in the women’s marathon – raising the standard to a hitherto unimaginable level.

    I think it’s fair to say many of the names bandied about compete in sports that aren’t mainstream, and you could say the same for the Ironman/Tri. But of course the tri is based upon mainstream sports and the physical and mental characteristics needed to compete well are readily comprehended by even the armchair fan.

    I’m not in favour of SPOTY having to nominate a set number of each sex, the reward should be based upon merit and that’s unisex. What I can’t understand is the likes of Amir Khan making the list when he’s had an unremarkable season. Similarly Murray who I’m sure would be happy to pick it up if he’d won a slam but making a semi isn’t enough for me.

    The one thing I’m pleased to see is Mo, who feels like one of our own, being nominated by almost everybody (except the nutter at the MEN and another nutter at the Daily Star Sunday who voted for Scott Parker!! That’s relegated with West Ham Scott Parker!

    There is no justice if Mo isn’t picking the award up on the night.


  5. The calls went out on twitter for nominations and a few came directly from there. @roadrunnerAK nominated Scott Overall for his wonderful performance in Berlin. On his debut marathon he seemed to effortlessly glide to an Olympic qualifying time – the first British man to do so – which was described as an “outstanding effort” Couldn’t agree more.

  6. More nominations for a RESPY came in via twitter from @NBRunning, the team at New Balance. Understandably they nominated their athletes, namely;

    Andy Baddeley (@runbadders) who is Britain’s top metric miler. This year he finished 4th in the 300m at the European Indoor Championships and domestically took gold in the 3000m at the European Indoor Trials which he followed up with victory in the Boston Invitational Mile in a scorching 4:16.7.

    Jenny Simpson (@trackjenny) who is the current US steeplechase record holder (9:12.5), who this year won the mile and the 3000m at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in 2011. But all that was eclipsed when she took gold in the 1500m at the World Championships in Deagu, ahead of Hannah England and Natalia Rodriguez. An outstanding performance that bodes well for 2012

    Maggie Vessey (@maggiekicks) who recently changed coaches and is now working with Rose Monday. Maggie qualified for the 2011 World Championships 800m finals where she finished sixth. A week later, Vessey won the 800 m at the Hanžeković Memorial as part of the IAAF World Challenge Meetings.

    and Anton Krupicka, who I think was nominated for being amazing at running up and down mountains and for having great hair.

    Thanks New Balance

  7. Another nomination from twitter came from @jonhinio also known as Jon Elliott who wrote (in less than 140 characters!) “I’d vote for Hannah England. Silver in the world champs 1500. Brilliant last 200m #RESPY’s” and I would have to agree. A great year for Hannah and a really enthralling race in which, in her first global championships, Hannah went from 7th at the final bend, to second at the line in 4:05.68. Definitely in for a shout of a RESPY. Thanks Jon.

  8. Chrissie Wellington is a great choice, as would be Alistair Brownlee for the male award.
    I know Alistair was short-listed for Sports Personality, but year after year he continues to dominate his field, which is remarkable and hugely inspirational.

    Purely coincidental that both are triathletes, but each deserve a mention on the merits of achievement they’ve gained this year.

    Oh, and If Mo doesn’t pick up the BBC award it’ll be an absolute travesty.

  9. In addition the tri-guys (a fair 1-2-3 would be Wellington, A Brownlee, Jenkins) and obviously Mo, can I recommend for nomination ultra runner Lizzy Hawker.

    Since the end of August alone she has won the UTMB (for the fourth time), set a new world 24 hour record at the Commonwealth Champs (244km – beating all the men too), and last month having abandoned her 1000km Himalaya expedition after losing her comms equipment, she ran back from Everest Base Camp to Katmandu breaking the record along the way – 350km in under three days.

    Not a pro runner either. And no, I don’t know her personally.

  10. Sally Musson

    Chrissie is so deserving but I would also add Sally Musson.

    A consistently outstanding runner with an age grading well over 90% in distances from 5K to Marathon. This year she won the London Marathon in the VW55 Category in a time of 3:04:17; is number 1 in the UK both in 2011 and tops the ‘all time’ record in her age category (despite being towards the top end of the category). Currently number 1 in the VW55 in the UK at Half Marathon and 20 miles, Sally is usually in the top 5 of all women, whatever age, in the races she enters.

  11. RESPY nomination as follows:

    – Jess Coulson
    – Track/Road
    – For having a great year overall, but in particular for the weekend in October when she ran 52:53 for 10m (putting her 8th on the UK all-time list for women), the day after running a 4km leg at the national road relays! And she’s still only 21…!

  12. Chrissie all the way.

    Also – incredible performances from Kenyan marathoners. Hard to pick just one when there were course records in all five World Marathon Majors in 2011, including Makau’s WR at Berlin and Geoffrey Mutai’s 2.03 in Boston and 2.05 in New York. All of the top twenty in the IAAF rankings for 2011 are Kenyan. And to think this all happened in the year that perhaps the most talented of them all, Wanjiru, sadly passed.

  13. Nominations continue to pour in for the RESPYs. One that came into my inbox (remember you can nominate by emailing as well as posting here or get in touch via twitter @simon_freeman) was from Anita Smith. She said;

    “Here’ my nominations.

    Chrissie Wellington, Triathlon, started the now continued practice of greeting every age group athlete as they cross the line of any race she is in. Phenomenal athlete, inspiration to thousands of women and men. Passionate supporter of women in sport and has the biggest smile in the most gruelling event.

    Alistair Brownlee, Triathlon. The untouchable one 🙂 In any race when he’s 100%, he cannot be beaten. Honest, hard working guy who loves what he does and does it all without making a big fuss.

    Good luck with the awards :)”

  14. Over on my coach’s Nick Anderson’s website ( I posted about the RESPYs and Nick replied saying “”I quite agree Simon and let’s get behind this idea. I would love to vote for you, Ben [Moreau] or the lovely Phoebe Thomas but my vote has to go to Hannah England and Mo Farrah. Coach of the year has to be Bud Baldaro. Good luck guys” So that is Simon Freeman for a RESPY then… or not!

  15. Obviously, being a tri man myself, I have to agree with the many calls for Chrissie, Ali and Helen J.

    All great ambassadors for the sport, complete inspirations to many and all British World Champions.

    And, unlike many sports stars today, all 3 of them are totally approachable and friendly.

    A very big shame that the SPOTY shortlist is so narrow minded. So long live the RESPYs!

    That said, all of us cyclists rang up SPOTY in our thousands to make sure Chris Hoy won over newly crowned World F1 champion Lewis Hamilton a few years ago. So if we want Mo to win…..

  16. I received a new nomination from Alexandra Vasey by email and it really made my day. This is the reason I set up the RESPYs – to find out about and shout about people like Joasia Zakrzewski, a GP from Dunfries and a running superstar. Alexandra explained that Joasia is the person who inspired her to run and she forwarded me Joasia’s ‘running cv’ that I think is marvelous and inspiring.

    Joasia started running about 4 years ago, but 2011 saw some breakthrough performances with her times improving steadily throughout the year.

    In 2010 Joaisa ventured in to the ultrascene starting with the Atacama Crossing, a multi-day stage race across the Atacama Desert in Chile. Joasia won every stage, finished joint 6th overall and broke the ladies’ course record by 4 hours.

    Joasia then says “On my return home, I entered and won a trail ultra called “Devil O’ The Highlands” (a 43mile/70K race through the Scottish highlands along the West Highland Way), finishing 9th overall, equalling the then course record of 6hrs 51minutes, 16minutes ahead of the 2nd lady.”

    But the RESPYs are about performances of the year and 2011 has been quite a year for Joasia. She won the New Orleans Marathon in 2:47:25, followed by the UK Middle Distance Trail Championships (a 20mile race on the Marlborough Downs). Next came a 15th place finish in the Comrades race in South Africa in 7:14:07.

    Joasia’s results continued to pile up with 4th place in the 79K Swissalpine Ultra finishing 3 seconds off the podium in 7:36:50.

    Next Joasia won a wild-card entry to the World 50K final 3 weeks, her first race over the distance, and finished with the Bronze medal in 3:26:37.

    She followed this up with the World 100K Championships – her first race for Great Britain – and again her debut at this distance. She finished in 2nd place in a time of 7:41:06 (a new Scottish Record), winning both European and World Silver medals in the process.

    She rounded the year off with 7th in the Florence marathon in a new PB of 2:41:21.

    I think that Alexandra is right when she says that as far as the Running and Endurance Sports Performance of the Year awards are concerned, Joasia Zakrzewski must be included in the shortlist. What do you think?

  17. Today I received another email with RESPY nominations, this time from one of the top coaches in the UK and someone I have had the pleasure to meet quite a few times (once on a very, very packed tube… which was a very weird coincidence) – Richard Pickering. Here is what he had to say;

    “Hi Simon,

    I hope you are well,

    I have enjoyed reading the debate about Sports Personality and I like your alternative slant on the matter.

    My nominations are as follows:

    Male: Perhaps controversially but for me it’s Scott Overall [not controversial at all – it is Scott’s second nomination] for an awesome performance in his debut marathon in Berlin which, I believe, will lead the way in British men believing that a sub 2.10 performance is possible for them and will kick start a real improvement over the next probably 10 years.

    Female: My female nomination is Charlotte Purdue, her fearless attitude to racing, shows she can mix it with the Africans and no one has really done that since Paula became world class. The downside is her susceptibility to injury which will sadly keep her out of the European x country team. Hopefully, other athletes can learn from what she doesn’t do right as well as what she does.

    My second nomination is Gemma Steel for her consistent approach to training and racing which has brought her considerable improvements over the last year. She now goes into a race expecting to win rather than just hoping.

    And one to watch: I’ve been impressed with the improvements made by 20 year old Hannah Walker (Coached admirably by Bud [Baldaro, nominated by Nick Anderson for coach of the year!] at Birmingham) she has had a good year so far and finished 4th in Liverpool [the Eurocross trials] last week, qualifying as fastest U23 for the Europeans. Should be an interesting race next weekend.



    Great nominations from Richard and at least a few new names there to add to the already amazing mix of talent.

Leave a Comment