BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2020
October 17, 2020
The huge disruptions to the sporting calendar this year continue, with the paucity of spectators at events wreaking havoc with the balance sheets at football grounds, race courses and the like. Iconic events including the 2020 Olympics, Euro2020 and Wimbledon have been deferred but it is encouraging that many sporting events are now taking place, and that the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen have resumed their careers, continuing to inspire future generations and provide those golden moments that sports fans enjoy.
It is within this unprecedented context that the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2020 will take place on 20 December in Salford. The show, normally attended by hundreds of nominees for the different awards, acknowledges the important role of sporting stars in the United Kingdom and globally, but also serves to encourage young talent and recognise the vital role of coaches and the unsung heroes of sport who work tirelessly within their communities without seeking recognition.
This year the pared-back event will undoubtedly place greater emphasis on the power of sport to support the nation in these challenging times, but the main award – Sports Personality of the Year – will continue to be the main draw. A short list of nominees will be released prior to the show, and viewers will vote for their favourite sports personality with the winner being announced live. Winners in recent years include big names such as Lewis Hamilton, Andy Murray, Geraint Thomas, Mo Farah and Ben Stokes.
The bookmakers are already taking bets on the winner of this year’s event and a cluster of favourites has emerged. Formula One legend Lewis Hamilton shares pole position with Manchester United star Marcus Rashford, and other favourites tipped for glory include champion boxer Tyson Fury and snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Lewis Hamilton continues to dominate Formula 1 and has recently matched Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins. The six-time world champion is currently leading the championship by a commanding 69 point margin, with only six grand prixs remaining this season. The 35-year old won the Sports Personality of the Year award back in 2014 and the bookies reckon that it could be his turn again, with Paddy Power offering odds of 2/1 to make him joint favourite. A seventh world championship title, likely to be scooped up next month, would be an epic achievement (again matching Schumacher who ended his career world champion seven times over) and many sports fans will want Hamilton’s skill, consistency and flair to be acknowledged at the awards event.
Manchester United star Marcus Rashford is only 22-years old but he has already made a major impact both on the football field and also through his campaigning for vulnerable children who go hungry every day in the United Kingdom. Rashford knows from personal experience what it is like to go hungry, as his mother struggled to feed him and his brothers during his childhood.
The young star’s campaign to end child poverty had a major break-through in June when the government changed policy to extend free school meals during the summer holidays. He was recently awarded an MBE to acknowledge his contribution to British society and successfully combines his campaigning role with his stellar career on the football pitch. Rashford plays as a forward for Manchester United, scoring 80 goals in 258 appearances, and he also has played for England since 2016, with 40 caps in his trophy cabinet so far. Bookie William Hill offers odds of 2/1 that Rashford will be crowned Sports Personality of the Year.
Boxer, Tyson Fury, is also tipped to win the award. The Gypsy King is a two-time heavyweight world champion and his personal struggles, combined with his immense boxing talent, have captured the public attention for the past decade. 32-year old Fury is expected to defend his WBC heavyweight title at the Albert Hall in London on 5 December, now that the plans for a third bout with Deontay Wilder have been ditched. His opponent is not yet finalised but Swedish boxer Otto Wallin has already thrown his hat in the ring; others may follow. Odds of 7/2 are available from BetFred for fans who want to have a bet on Fury winning Sports Personality of the Year.
As always, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year showcases an array of sports, and this year snooker is on the list. Ronnie O’Sullivan is right up there as a favourite to win, with odds of 13/2 available from Bet365. O’Sullivan is an immensely gifted player but he is sometimes at odds with the sport and with himself. That said, the 44-year old has been World Champion six times, he has won the Masters a record seven times and he is the most successful player ever in the Triple Crown Series, with twenty titles. One more World Championship title and he will equal the record set by Stephen Hendry in the 1990’s but this is not a driving ambition for him. “I don’t think about records,” he said recently “I still try to play for the fun of it”.
The shortlist for the 2020 Sports Personality of the Year will not be revealed until December and after that point members of the public will be invited to vote. However, nominations for the new BBC Unsung Heroes award are now open. Visit bbc.co.uk/unsung hero if you wish to cast your vote.