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Wiggins favourite for Sports Personality prize

Tour De France and Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins heads a shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year dominated by his Team GB Olympic team-mates. In arguably the finest year for British sport, the selection panel had a tough task narrowing their selection to 12 names.

After criticism of the shortlist last year, the BBC convened a panel of experts, including illustrious Olympic luminaries Steven Redgrave and Tanni Grey-Thompson. Their dozen sportsmen and women included just one, world number one golfer Rory McIlroy, who wasn’t an Olympic or Paralympic medallist, although Andy Murray is included for his US Open victory as much as his Olympic tennis gold.

The other nominees on the shortlist are Mo Farah, Nicola Adams, Jessica Ennis, Ben Ainslie, Katherine Grainger, Chris Hoy, Ellie Simmonds, Sarah Storey and David Weir.

In a normal year, any one of them would be a worthy winner. In a year of superlatives though, Wiggins’s Tour De France triumph is an obvious standout, served up with a side-dish of gold in the Olympic time trial. Of the Paralympians, Weir’s achievement in winning four golds at distances ranging from 800 metres up to the marathon was truly remarkable.

Bookmakers make Wiggins favourite, ahead of Farah, Ennis and Murray. Partly that may be a reflection of the word "personality" in the award’s title. Wiggins has a no-nonsense directness and lack of egotism unusual in a major sporting star. He made a point of emphasising his Tour De France victory was a tour effort, and was conspicuous in his efforts to support Mark Cavendish in the Olympic road race.

One of his main rivals, Andy Murray, may lose some of the public vote, south of the border at least, because of a supposed lack of charm or graciousness. The new focus and toughness instilled by his coach Ivan Lendl have made Murray a winner but they haven’t yet succeeded in making the British public warm to him in large numbers.

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