There are times when the ability to triumph over adversity, narrow the focus and just keep on going are the hallmarks of a truly great sportsman.
And this must be one of those times for Lewis Hamilton, considered an odds-on favourite for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award, only to be seriously outpointed by Welsh boxer Joe Calzaghe.
The defeat would be galling enough on its own. But following on the heels of his narrowly losing out in the F1 Drivers’ Championship then failing to knock The Stig off his perch in the Top Gear Celebrity Challenge – well, it must be gutting.
Despite being the odds-on favourite, Hamilton was in the event beaten by some 55,000 votes, thanks to a fantastic year for Calzaghe.
He followed up his 2006 defeat of US legend Jeff Lacy with an easy takedown of The Contender’s Peter Manfredo followed by a successful title unification bout against stellar undefeated Danish boxer Mikkel Kessler.
His father and trainer Enzo also won a Coach of the Year award.
In the event Calzaghe won 177,748 votes, or 28.2 per cent, Hamilton won 122,649 votes or 19.5 per cent, and third-placed boxer Ricky Hatton won 85,280 votes or 13.5 per cent.
Superbike champion James Toseland came a very close fourth behind Hatton.
Hamilton was characteristically modest when accepting his runner-up prize, talking about how dad Anthony is a big boxing fan and saying: “It’s a bit strange to be in the middle of these two [Calzaghe and Hatton], they are sporting legends really.
“They are at the top of the game, and I have to pinch myself that I’m there.
“I come from a very normal town and to be named among those sporting personalities is unreal.”
But, actually, we thought he looked pretty shocked when the results were announced. We have a fair idea by now how much he hates to be beaten – undoubtedly part of the secret of his success.
The Brits on Pole management have an interest to declare here – we are serious boxing fans and quietly thrilled that the sport, and Calzaghe, have got this well-deserved recognition.
But how we wish we’d put a few quid on him at 12/1…