Track conditions meant that Chris Hoy couldn’t take on Lewis Hamilton in a man versus machine race at the Race of Champions at Wembley – but he won what was arguably the more important contest.
Hamilton was the runner-up in the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year competition for the second year running, beaten to the top spot by the 32-year-old Scot and multiple Olympic gold medallist.
In third place was Olympic swimmer and gold medallist Rebecca Adlington while Paralympic double gold medallist and swimmer Eleanor Simmonds, 14, took the young personality award. The team of the year award also went to the Olympic cyclists and their coach David Brailsford won recognition too.
Adlington had been the bookmakers’ favourite going into the competition with Hamilton second and Hoy third. In the event, Hoy collected 283,630 telephone votes from viewers – streets ahead of Hamilton on 163,864 and Adlington on 145,924. One newspaper report refers to “a block vote from Scotland”.
Hoy appeared astounded to have won: “I really didn’t expect this. After the year I’ve had and the whole team has had, to be crowned Sports Personality of the Year, it just means so much. This is the big one and this is just unbelievable.
“Standing here holding it in my hands, looking at the names on this trophy, it’s quite incredible.”
Hamilton accepted the runner’s-up spot with good grace, saying: “In an Olympic year, I always thought an Olympian would win. I was up against such amazing athletes and I was very proud to be standing up there with them.”
Last year he was beaten to the title by undefeated Welsh boxer Joe Calzaghe following a series of high-profile defences of his super-middleweight title. The last racing driver to win the award was Damon Hill – in 1994 and again in 1996 following his world championship win.
Nigel Mansell also won the title twice, in 1986 and 1992. Earlier winners include John Surtees, Sir Jackie Stewart and Sir Stirling Moss.
We say: sincere congratulations to Chris Hoy for a well-deserved victory and a superb year.
However, is it possible that feats in a racing car are currently perceived by the voting public to not be ‘proper’ sport, despite the rigorous training a top-flight racing driver must put in?
And is this the reason the Sports Personality title remains beyond Hamilton’s reach even when the F1 World Championship doesn’t?
Or does he just need to prove himself a bit more first?
Tell you what – maybe he should have a crack at Strictly Come Dancing instead…