A word for O’Sullivan, the oldest contender at 47. He won his seventh world snooker championship in May, beating Judd Trump 18-13 to equal Stephen Hendry’s modern-era record. His first world title came back in 2001, 21 years before his latest triumph. It was his 39th ranking title, a record, and brought up 74 wins at the Crucible, also a record.
To give her full credit, while Mead scored the joint-highest number of goals at Euro 2022 alongside Popp she ended as top scorer at the tournament on account of her five assists. She has also been on fire with Arsenal in the Women’s Super League this year, though her season has been badly disrupted owing to a serious knee injury.
Who answered b), then? Here’s a poll from YouGov which should add some fuel to the fire. Putting aside the 64% of people who don’t know who should win Spoty, Mead has a narrow lead over Stokes with the British public. Wightman is the most left-field choice.
It’s that time of year again, isn’t it? Where we all argue over the Sports Personality of the Year Award and whether it’s a) a national institution b) totally pointless or c) somewhere in between. “Umm, err, have you heard of nuance? It’s obviously c),” is what a smarty-pants might say. This blog is for those who think it’s either a) or b), a binary choice with no room for nuance whatsoever. Because what is sport all about, if not having a massive argument just for the sake of it?
Among this year’s Spoty contenders, Beth Mead is the overwhelming favourite. Having won Euro 2022 with England, scoring a joint-highest six goals at the tournament alongside Germany’s Alexandra Popp, few would begrudge her the award. Ben Stokes is also in the mix, having revitalised the England cricket team alongside Brendon McCullum, the Test coach, while also helping the white-ball side to win the T20 World Cup under the guidance of Matthew Mott.
Jessica Gadirova, the gymnast who won floor gold at the world championships, Eve Muirhead, who led Team GB to curling gold at the Winter Olympics, Jake Wightman, who won 1,500m gold in the world athletics championships, and Ronnie O’Sullivan, the snooker legend, complete the shortlist. But who will win? Let’s find out.