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SPOTY 2012 betting preview

August 13th, 2012

Betting on BBC Sports Personality of the Year is always popular, but interest in the annual award is likely to be far greater in Olympic year, with so many high profile British medallists - in arguably the greatest year in history for British sport.

The award is bestowed upon the sportsperson ‘whose actions have most captured the public's imagination’ and that has thrown up some surprise winners of late, such as Ryan Giggs in 2009 and Zara Phillips in 2006.

However, this year the shortlist will predominantly consist of worthy Olympians and bookmakers think that Bradley Wiggins is the most likely recipient in December, with Bet365 and Sky Bet offering the best odds of 8/13.

Wiggins is sure to go close after becoming the first Brit to win the Tour de France and the first person to win the Tour and an Olympic gold medal in the same year. However, he was as short as 1/12 after his Tour win and paradoxically his odds have drifted despite Olympic gold - with so many of his Team GB teammates also ‘capturing the public’s imagination’.

In his favour is that the ‘SPOTY’ award has gone to a cyclist in two of the last four years - Mark Cavendish in 2011 and Chris Hoy in 2008.

Next in the betting comes Mo Farah, at best odds of 7/2 with Ladbrokes (just 7/4 with Sky Bet). The distance-runners’ remarkable double triumph in the 5000m and 10000m makes him just the sixth man to win both events during an Olympic Games and the famous ‘Mo-Bot’ celebrations have added to his popularity. Farah finished third in the 2011 SPOTY awards with 80,469 votes (15.58%).

Another whose popularity and achievements stand-out is Heptathlon gold medal winner Jessica Ennis, who can currently be backed at odds of 8/1 with BetVictor (as short as 5/1 elsewhere). Jess has also finished third in the SPOTY awards - in both 2010 with 62,953 votes (9.02%) and 2009 with 80,469 votes (15.58%).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a number of SPOTY winners had finished second or third previously. For example, Tony McCoy - third in 2002 and winner in 2010, Andrew Flintoff - third in 2004 and winner in 2005, David Beckham - second in 1999 and winner in 2001 (then second again in 2002) and Linford Christie - second in 1992 and winner in 1993. So don’t be put off betting on those who have fallen just short before.

Olympic tennis gold medal winner and Wimbledon runner-up Andy Murray, who was fifth last year with 18,754 votes (5.48%), can currently be backed at 28/1 with Bet365 (just 16/1 with William Hill) and those odds will shorten if he can capture his first Grand Slam at the US Open this month.

2008 SPOTY winner Chris Hoy, whose two Gold medals in London made him the most decorated British Olympian in history (with 6 gold’s), is 50/1 with Bet365 and Paddy Power - and his tears during the final medal ceremony will have won him some further votes.

Ben Ainslee, Britain's most-decorated Olympic sailor after securing his fourth consecutive gold medal, is 150/1 with BetVictor

Away from the Olympians, the recent US PGA winner and no.1 ranked golfer in the world, Rory McIlroy, can be backed at 200/1 with Ladbrokes. His achievements and popularity would have seen him as hot favourite in most years, but a quick look at the award winners in the last three Olympic years demonstrates why he is likely to miss out this year:

2008: Chris Hoy (triple-Olympic champion)
2004: Kelly Holmes (double-Olympic champion)
2000: Steve Redgrave (after winning his fifth consecutive Olympic Gold medal)

The 2012 Sports Personality of the Year awards take place in late December when a public phone vote will decide the winner during the show, which will be broadcast live on BBC1.

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