Five women on SPOTY shortlist
The 12-strong shortlist for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award has been announced, and in contrast to last year's all-male list there are five women who have been nominated.
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Britain's Olympic and Paralympic heroes dominate the list, with golfer Rory McIlroy the only one of the dozen names not to have won medals at London 2012 this summer.
Cyclist Bradley Wiggins is the bookmakers' odds-on favourite after his historic triumph in the Tour de France and gold in the Olympics time trial, ahead of Mo Farah, double gold medallist in the 5,000 metres and 10,000m.
Andy Murray, who became the first British man to win a grand slam singles title for 76 years when he triumphed in the US Open and also won an Olympic gold for good measure, is ranked third favourite with the bookies just ahead of Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis.
David Weir, the wheelchair athlete who won four golds in London, is ranked by the bookies as the leading Paralympian.
McIlroy, who won his second Major title this year and finished top of both the US and European money lists, said: "I am delighted to be nominated again for Sports Personality of the Year.
"It is a real honour to be nominated two years in a row. With it being an Olympic year, and with so many outstanding achievements in British sport in 2012, the voting is sure to go right down to the wire."
McIlroy is joined on the shortlist by Nicola Adams, who made history by becoming the first Olympic women's boxing champion when she floored world number one Ren Cancan en route to a memorable points win in London.
"I didn't expect to be nominated, let along make the short list. There are so many big names on the list, and so many others who didn't make it, that I am just happy to be part of it," said Adams.
"I have watched Sports Personality of the Year for years and I never once thought I would be part of it. I would have been happy enough with my gold medal. Everything that is happening now is just a bonus."
British Cycling's president Brian Cookson said: "It's phenomenal news that three of our cyclists are up for the UK's most prized annual sporting award.
"To be nominated for Sports Personality - especially after such a spectacular Olympic year for Team GB - is an amazing recognition of what has been achieved across our sport.
"Bradley Wiggins, our first winner of the Tour de France, Sir Chris Hoy, now Britain's most successful Olympian, and Sarah Storey - whose 11 Paralympic golds match Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's record - all thoroughly deserve their place on the shortlist.
"This comes a year after Mark Cavendish won the award and if a cyclist can do it again, it will further highlight just how mainstream our sport now is."
The strength of the competition meant even the only two British women who won double gold medals at the Olympics - cyclist Laura Trott and dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin - did not make the shortlist.
Barbara Slater, the director of BBC Sport who chaired the shortlisting panel, admitted that leaving out such names had been painful.
Slater said in a BBC blog: "We had already extended the shortlist for the main award this year from 10 to 12, but at times we all wished it was nearer 15 or 20.
"It was very difficult to leave off Olympians and Paralympians of the calibre of Charlotte Dujardin, Alistair Brownlee, Jade Jones, Sophie Christiansen, Laura Trott, Jonnie Peacock, Jason Kenny and Victoria Pendleton, to name just a few.
"The panel also reflected long and hard on the heroics of stars from other sports such as (Ryder Cup golfer) Ian Poulter during the 'Miracle of Medinah', the continued brilliance of (boxer) Carl Froch and the 'magnificent seven' from champion jockey Richard Hughes.
"In any other year these sports people would probably be front-runners to win the overall award.
"If we ever needed reminding just how special a sporting year it has been, then the list of those sports people who did not make the final 12 is testament to that."
The expert panel included national newspaper sports editors and three former award nominees, Sir Steve Redgrave, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Denise Lewis.
The panel also selected the winners of the coach of the year, team of the year and overseas personality. The main award will be chosen by public vote and announced at the Sports Personality of the Year show from London's ExCeL centre on December 16.
The full list of nominees:
There are few more unforgettable images from the London 2012 Olympics than Adams' golden smile. The Leeds boxer had battled for years for the right to be recognised and when women's boxing was finally included in the Games she jumped at the chance, flooring Chinese world number one Ren Cancan - who had beaten her in two previous world finals - en route to a hugely popular gold medal win.
After winning consecutive Olympic golds in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, Ainslie was determined not to disappoint on home water. His experience paid off as he held off the improving Dane Jonas Hogh-Christensen to win gold again. To cap a stellar year for Ainslie, he also won his sixth Finn World Championships title, pipping compatriot Edward Wright in Falmouth.
Ennis shrugged off the huge weight of expectation to charge to heptathlon gold in London, setting the standard with two personal bests on the opening day and ultimately having little trouble holding off silver medallist Lilli Schwarzkopf to take gold. Ennis wrapped up her victory in style on 'Super Saturday' as she was first to cross the line in the discipline's final event, the 800 metres.
The 'Mo-Bot' became the celebration dance de rigueur in honour of the extraordinary Farah, who shattered the traditional African dominance of the men's long-distance events by winning Olympic gold in the men's 10,000m. Despite fears over his energy levels, Farah repeated the feat seven days later when he held off the fast-finishing Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia to win his second gold.
Few London gold medals were greeted quite so enthusiastically as the rowing one won by Grainger and partner Anna Watkins in the women's double sculls. Despite six world gold medals in her career, Grainger seemed destined to become the nearly-woman of Olympic sport after consecutive silvers in Sydney, Athens and Beijing. Grainger emphatically put an end to that on home water.
SIR CHRIS HOY
Hoy's two gold medals at the London Olympics lifted him above Sir Steve Redgrave and made him Great Britain's greatest Olympian in terms of gold medals won with a grand total of six. Hoy, who carried the flag at the opening ceremony, set a new world record in the team sprint then won the Keirin to rewrite the history books.
McIlroy firmly established himself as the best golfer in the world in 2012, claiming his second major title when he won the USPGA Championship by a record eight strokes, and playing a crucial role in Europe's extraordinary Ryder Cup victory. McIlroy finished top of both the European and US money lists, and wrapped up his season by claiming victory in the World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Murray went from tears to triumph in 2012 as he picked himself up from a heartbreaking Wimbledon final loss to Roger Federer to finally claim Britain's first men's grand slam singles title in 76 years with a thrilling five-set win over Novak Djokovic in the US Open. In doing so Murray showed a human side which finally won over huge swathes of the population and paved the way for a popular and lucrative future. For good measure, he won Olympic gold with a revenge victory over Federer at SW19.
One of Britain's most recognisable Paralympians on account of her heroics in Beijing at the age of just 13, Simmonds did the business again in the pool in London with gold medal wins in the S6 disciplines of the 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley, as well as picking up a plucky silver in the 100m freestyle and a bronze in the 50m freestyle to wrap up another superb show from the teenager.
Storey set the tone for Great Britain's golden Paralympics when she claimed the host nation's first gold medal with victory in cycling's C5 pursuit. Storey, also a double gold medallist from Beijing, would prove simply unstoppable in London as she went on to claim three more golds in the C4-5 time trial, the C5 road time trial, and the C4-5 road race respectively.
Despite boasting six London Marathon titles and two gold medals from Beijing, Weir went into the London Paralympics still with a relatively low profile. But he emerged as arguably its brightest star, bursting down the back straight to claim three gold medals on the track in the 5000m, 1500m and 800m before completing an irresistible sweep by winning his fourth and final 2012 title in the men's marathon.
Wiggins' remarkable year did not stop with the small matter of becoming the first British rider in history to win the Tour de France - and being feted worldwide as one of its most popular victors in the process. He got back on his bike to play a starring role in the London 2012 opening ceremony, before drawing on his remaining reserves of energy to win gold in the men's time trial.