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Asher-Smith can spring SPOTY shock

Asher-Smith can spring SPOTY shock


After winning the Golden Boot at the World Cup and playing a key role in helping England reach the semi-finals in Russia, Harry Kane is the favourite to bring his year to an end by picking up the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award (SPOTY).

The Tottenham striker is 7/5 to be handed the trophy on Sunday but it may be best to look elsewhere for value. Footballers rarely win the award and, although Kane is undoubtedly an unassuming individual, if the trophy is based on personality alone other candidates would surely be more likely to be awarded the accolade.

Only five footballers, and none since Ryan Giggs was the surprise winner in 2009, have won the award compared with 18 triumphs for athletes.

Kane may have helped to give England fans a memorable summer but many supporters of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were heartily sick of the triumphalism and wall-to-wall coverage offered to Gareth Southgate’s team.

Fans of clubs other than Spurs may think it impossible to vote for Kane, so his odds may be less appealing than first appear.

The winners, as epitomised by Giggs almost a decade ago, Zara Phillips in 2006 and Joe Calzaghe the following year, are often left-field with Mo Farah’s triumph 12 months surprising the man himself almost as much as the viewers.

Geraint Thomas to win @ 12/5

Since the ceremony began in 1954 four different cyclists have won the main prize, but three of those have come in the last 10 years with the achievements of Chris Hoy (2008), Mark Cavendish (2011) and Bradley Wiggins (2012) all being rewarded.

Chris Froome may have won the Tour de France four times but that has failed to impress the SPOTY voters, and the 33-year-old has not even managed to finish in the top three in the last five years.

In that time Leigh Halfpenny, Kevin Sinfield, Jonathan Rea, Nick Skelton, Jo Pavey and Jonnie Peacock have all garnered more votes than Froome (125/1) and finished in the top three.

Geraint Thomas has won the Tour de France this year but also is deemed to have a cheery personality and if he comes across well on the evening his odds may well plummet.

Interviews on the night with the main candidates often have a huge bearing on the final result, most notably in 2009 when Giggs came across well, but it can also work the other way.

Rory McIlroy (125/1) may have won the The Open and the USPGA Championship in 2014 but that failed to impress the public who instead voted for Lewis Hamilton, who even admitted afterwards that he would have plumped for the golfer from Northern Ireland.

Lewis Hamilton to win @ 11/2

McIlroy had become the first Briton to win back-to-back majors – and inside 21 days – but that was not enough to defeat Hamilton.

However, the fact that he has already won the award means that lifting a fifth world title in Formula 1 earlier this year may not be enough for Hamilton to triumph in SPOTY again.

Boxing has won SPOTY five times with Calzaghe following in the footsteps of Henry Cooper (1967 and 1970), Barry McGuigan (1985) and Lennox Lewis (1999).

Love him or hate him, no-one can deny that Tyson Fury (13/2) is a personality and he has the advantage that his incredible bout with Deontay Wilder only took place at the start of this month.

Fury ruined his chances of winning the award three years ago thanks to some crass comments in the wake of his amazing victory against Wladimir Klitschko but his battle back from depression and alcohol and drug abuse to draw with Wilder may have tugged at the public’s heart-strings.

The self-styled Gypsy King was twice sent to the canvas by Wilder but many people thought he should have been awarded the fight and he was certainly keen to talk up his story afterwards, when he said: “It’s an iconic comeback, isn’t it? After two-and-a-half years out of the ring, 10 stone ballooned, mental health problems.

“I just showed the world and everyone suffering with mental health problems, you can come back and it can be done.”

Anthony Joshua may have unified the heavyweight boxing titles by beating Joseph Parker and then Alexander Povetkin in 2018 to extend his unbeaten record to 22 bouts, but the 29-year-old is not expected to be in the running to win SPOTY and is currently 100/1 in the betting.

Dina Asher-Smith to win @ 16/1

As athletics has dominated SPOTY in the past, it may be worth considering Dina Asher-Smith as a possible winner this year.

The 23-year-old may have been disappointed to only pick up a bronze medal in the 200 metres at the Commonwealth Games but she made the headlines in Berlin in August when she won both the 100 and 200 metres titles.

She became the first British woman in history to run below 22 seconds in the 200 metres and also won a third gold medal in the 4×100 metres relay.

On an evening when surprises often occur, Asher-Smith’s bubbly personality may win her the backing of some viewers who had forgotten her glorious summer achievements.

Ronnie O’Sullivan to win @ 12/1

There could also be some support for Ronnie O’Sullivan, although the only snooker player to win SPOTY was Steve Davis 30 years ago.

The 43-year-old made history with a 19th win in a Triple Crown event when he secured the UK Championship for the seventh time last Sunday.

England’s highest Test run-scorer Alastair Cook (40/1) ended his international career with a century in the summer while Lizzy Yarnold (25/1) made a successful defence of her Winter Olympic skeleton title but they do not appear to be in the running to win the trophy.

Finally, Europe’s victory to regain the Ryder Cup from the United States means golf could win a trophy in the team category although the England football side’s success means they will probably prevail.

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Mark Race Having worked in the media for nearly 30 years, Mark knows his sport inside out and at all levels. An avid football fan, Mark also has serious knowledge of the tennis world and is quick to point out value bets in a number of other sports.