It’s been 13 years since Zara Phillips won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award and since then only three women featured on the podium (on six occasions).
As I cast my eyes down the list of winners, some of them leave me scratching my head. Some men surely won in recognition of their careers rather than anything they achieved in the year in question. Yes, Ryan Giggs, I’m looking at you as well as half-glance at AP McCoy and Andy Murray.
In fact, Murray won the award three times in four years while Lewis Hamilton had four podium finishes since 2006.
This year, it’s surely time for the public to apply the same principle to sportswomen as they do for the men?
What’s particularly irritating about this year’s betting is that out of 55 potential winners according to William Hill, just 9 are female. Britain, according to the odds-wizards, has just nine worthwhile sportswomen.
Other bookmakers fare equally as poorly. Only Sky Bet add two more names to the list, golfers Charley Hull and Georgia Hall.
So, who is on the list of contenders at this early stage of the year?
Currently, second favourite behind Anthony Joshua at 10/1, Asher-Smith is no stranger to the podium at major athletics events since graduating from a successful junior career.
Since winning silver at the European Indoor championships in the 60m sprint, she has five gold medals at 100m, 200m and/or 4x100m relay. Four of those came in 2018, beginning with the Commonwealth Games (relay) followed by a sprint double at the European Championships, as well as another relay gold.
It adds to the list of silver and bronze medals she has won at majors, including the 2016 Olympics and World Championships a year later.
If Asher-Smith continues her form this season, in particular at the 2019 Doha World Championships, surely that puts her head and shoulders above the majority of contenders?
Anything England Men’s captain Harry Kane can do, Steph Houghton has already done and that includes winning major honours at club level. Three Women’s Super League titles, four FA Cups, three Women’s Cups, as well as three Cyprus Cups for her country.
So, Hazza, how’s your trophy cabinet looking?
Not only the glory, she knows the heartache losing a World Cup semi-final brings. The difference is that Houghton and her team-mates picked themselves up to win third-place.
At the time of writing, Houghton has 101 caps and leads England into the decisive game against Japan in the SheBelieves Cup. Houghton scored England’s equaliser against world #1’s and host nation, the USA.
This year, she leads England into the World Cup where Scotland, Argentina and Japan await in the group stage.
A good campaign may just give her the recognition an outstanding career deserves.
There’s an early test of the multi-discipline athlete: Celebrity Bake-off. Johnson-Thompson, who switches between the Heptathlon and Pentathlon, is one of the contestants in the Stand Up for Cancer gig which begins soon on Channel 4. A win there may top and tail year if she lands SPOTY as well!
A Heptathlon gold medallist at 2009s World Youth championships was followed by a 2012 World Junior gold in the Long Jump with a Heptathlon gold a year later and a European Under-23 Heptathlon gold in 2013.
But 2018 is the year where everything fell into place. Her Pentathlon gold at the World Indoor championships lit a fire and she added a Commonwealth gold in the Heptathlon and silver in the European Championships. 2019 is picking up where the year left off with a Pentathlon gold at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow.
The Other Runners and Riders
If Bryony Frost improves on her 5th place in the Grand National, it’s the kind of platform which will surely improve her 66/1 odds?
Nicola Adams surprisingly didn’t make the podium at Sports Personality of the Year either time she won the gold medal at the Olympic Games. It’s hard to know what this pioneering boxer must do to be more widely recognised by the public. An OBE points the viewers in the right direction.
The Interim WBO Flyweight champion, perhaps beating the WBO champion Arely Mucino in March will propel her into the public eye once again.
|25/1||Steph Houghton Katarina Johnson-Thompson|
|33/1||Johanna Konta Laura Muir|
|100/1||Jasmin Paris Laura Kenney|