‘Tis the season for ‘year in review’ round-ups and one of my favourites is the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The awards for 2014 were beamed from the SSE Hydro in Glasgow last Sunday. And guess what? We were there!
The pre-show was hosted by Helen Skelton and Dougie Vipond and included music from Glasgow-based opera singer and Britain’s Got Talent finalist Lucy Kay, who belted out O Mio Babbino Caro and Nessun Dorma. Before going live to the nation, we also had to perfect clapping and waving a small torch on cue (yes, seriously).
The broadcast kicked off with a rousing rendition of On the Waterfront from Simple Minds. Fronted by the usual BBC suspects – Clare Balding, Gabby Logan and Gary Lineker – the show was a mix of live interviews and video segments. A montage of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games was accompanied by the fabulous Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne singing Rather Be. Violinist Nicola Bernadetti played Loch Lomond during the obituaries. Always a tear-jerker at the best of times but heightened this year by the recent tragic death of Australian cricketer Phil Hughes.
Several awards were presented throughout the evening:
Young Sports Personality of the Year was 17-year-old gymnast Claudia Fragapane, the first British woman to win four gold medals at a single Commonwealth Games since 1930.
Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned Overseas Sports Personality.
The Helen Rollason Award for inspirational achievement in the face of adversity was presented by Prince Harry to the competitors of the Invictus Games. Harry was the driving force behind the games, which brought together over 400 wounded military personnel from 13 countries for 4 days of sporting excellence.
Showing just how far women’s sport has come in the past few years, Team of the Year was the World Cup winning England Ladies Rugby team, seeing off strong competition from Europe’s Ryder Cup golfers.
Despite missing out on the team award, Europe’s captain Paul McGinley was named Coach of the Year.
The Get Inspired Unsung Hero Award recognises those involved in grassroots sport at a community level. The 2014 winner was the delightful Jill Stidever who for the past 60 years has devoted her time and energy to teaching children with special needs how to swim.
Scottish cycling hero Sir Chris Hoy was the extremely popular recipient of the BBC Lifetime Achievement Award.
The final award of the night was the big one, with 10 contenders from a diverse range of sports shortlisted for the Sports Personality of the Year. Third place went to long-distance runner Jo Pavey who had won bronze in Glasgow and gold at the European Championships just months after giving birth to her second child. Despite being tipped as favourite to win, golfer Rory McIlroy was pushed down into the runner-up spot (cue murmur of surprise from the crowd). Taking the crown was 2014 F1 champ Lewis Hamilton – he also seemed surprised that McIlroy had missed out.
The other nominees were footballer Gareth Bale; dressage star Charlotte Dujardin (unfortunately her dance partner Valegro wasn’t included in the nomination. Perhaps because he’s a horse); boxer Carl Froch; sight-impaired skier Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans; swimmer Adam Peaty, gymnast Max Whitlock; and Olympic skeleton gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold.
Just as well we’d practised our applause.