Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sport's Personality 2007

So who is the Sport’s personality of 2007? As with last year I rated the contenders in three categories.

- Achievement (/5): what did they achieve in their sport this year.
- Personality (/2): how well known are they to the general British public.
- Profile of the Sport (/3): How highly is the sport regarded in the country.
Pos Athlete             Ach     Pers    Prof    Total
1 Lewis Hamilton 4.75 2 2.5 9.25
2 Ricky Hatton 4 / 5* 1.5 2 7.5 / 8.5
Jonny Wilkinson 3.5 2 3 8.5
4 Joe Calzaghe 4.5 1.5 2 8
Jason Robinson 3.5 1.5 3 8
Christine Ohuruogu 4 1.5 2.5 8
7 Paula Radcliffe 3 2 2.5 7.5
David Healy 3 1.5 3 7.5
9 Andrew Murray 2 2 2.5 6.5
Nicola Sanders 3 1 2.5 6.5
11 Justin Rose 3 1 2 6
12 James Toseland 4 1 0.5 5.5
*depends on the Mayweather result.

Lewis Hamilton: Finished joint second in his debut F1 season by just 1 point. He broke or equalled records with 9 consecutive podiums from debut race (previous record was 2), 9 consecutive podiums for a British driver (tied with Jim Clark), youngest driver to lead the World Championship, 4 wins in a debut season (tied with Jacques Villeneuve), 6 pole positions in a debut season. More importantly though, he made formula 1 exciting again.

Ricky Hatton: Moved back to Light Welterweight and won IBF belt against Juan Urango in January. This set up a fight with Jose Luis Castillo in which he inflicted the Mexican’s first loss by knock out. On December the 8th Hatton faces fellow unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr in what promises to be one of the biggest Welterweight fights ever.

Jonny Wilkinson: England were a completely different team in the World Cup with Jonny playing. He scored 67 points in 5 games and became the World Cup’s highest points scorer ever and the vital kicks against Australia and France took England to a completely unexpected final. At the start of the year he became the highest ever 5/6 Nations points scorer before being sidelined through ankle and rib injuries and suffering from cramp.

Joe Calzaghe: Defended his WBO Super Middleweight belt against “Contender” Peter Manfredo in 3 rounds in April, then in November beat Mikkel Kessler on points to become WBO, WBA and WBC champion. Still undefeated after 44 fights and is now 3rd in the world for the number of title defenses ever.

Jason Robinson: England’s progression to the final of the world cup was most definitely a team performance and its hard to pick out any one player who deserves special mention (including Wilkinson) but one player who never fails to delight and inspire and give his utmost for England is Jason Robinson. England and Rugby will be all the poorer without him.

Christine Ohuruogu: The only British athlete to win gold at the world championships in Japan (albeit because world number 1, Sanya Richards was running the 200m), made all the more remarkable as she had only run 2 races in over a year before Osaka. OK, so she missed 3 drugs tests and all that but having not failed 14 tests out of those she did take and served her year suspension (the process has since been updated to better suit athletes) this is a remarkable story. She also helped Britain win bronze in the relay.

Paula Radcliffe: Ran just 2 competitive races, winning the New York Marathon brilliantly and finishing second in the Great North Run. After giving birth in January she then had to recover from a back injury – having to train in a swimming pool. She has set herself up nicely for a promising 2008.

David Healy: In 2007, Healy scored 9 goals for Northern Ireland in 8 games and they only just missed out on qualification for their first ever European Championship Finals. He finished as the top scorer in qualifying for the whole of Europe and is Northern Ireland’s top scorer and Britain 5th with 33 goals. He is yet to make an impact on the Premier League.

Andrew Murray: Won in an Australian Open record equalling 6-0, 6-0, 6-1 against Alberto Martin in the first round but lost to Nadal in 5 sets in the fourth round. He won in San Jose but injury forced him out of the French open and Wimbledon, however he did rise to number 8 in the world. After returning from injury he won in St Petersburg and helped Great Britain beat Croatia in the Davis Cup. Nothing particularly special from Murray this year but he is definitely improving and a grand slam victory could be his within the next few years.

Nicola Sanders: Ran the 3 world fastest times for indoor 400m this year and became the 5th fastest indoors, taking European Gold. She became the 4th Briton to run under 50 seconds outdoors in taking silver at the world championships and helped anchor the British team home to a relay bronze in Osaka. In doing so, she helped break the British record by 2 seconds and became the fastest female UK athlete for a 400 metre relay leg by over half a second.

Justin Rose: Finishes the year as ranked number 6 in the world and the highest European player. He won both the Australian and Volvo Masters on his way to taking the 2007 European Order of Merit, and his consistent play allowed him to finish 12th or better in all 4 majors. There is still a way to go before he is recognised as among the elite British sporting personalities.

James Toseland: Won his second World Superbike title with 8 wins and 14 podiums in 23 races, including a double win at Brands Hatch. Next year he moves up to MotoGP with Yamaha.

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