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Lewis Hamilton in SPOTY race


LEWIS HAMILTON must come from behind once more if he is to beat Rory McIlroy to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

The Mercedes driver sealed his second world title with his 11th victory of the season in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

“Until Hamilton’s world championship title was confirmed, the SPOTY betting was a one horse race,” said William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.

“But Lewis has now made things a little more exciting and it is not as clear cut as we first thought.”

The bookmaker quotes Hamilton at 3/1 but he is still some distance behind golf’s latest superstar, who is available at 2/9 to lift the coveted award at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena on December 14.

He must hope that the proximity of his achievement – coming just three weeks prior to the ceremony – plus a royal endorsement from Prince Harry, who was in the paddock, carries him first past the post and makes it third time lucky for the 2007 and 2008 SPOTY runner-up.

“Lewis thank you very much for not making the British public sweat,” said the Prince as Hamilton took the chequered flag. “You are an absolute legend. Well done mate.”

Those words and the scent of success can achieve more than concerted PR campaigns to rehabilitate Hamilton’s image with those who see him as an arrogant, UK tax-evading play boy who heartlessly discarded his dad as his manager.


There will be those who cannot look beyond the penthouse in Monte Carlo or his pop star girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, but most British sports fans are rejoicing in the crowning of Britain’s first double world champion since Jackie Stewart in 1971.

“Right now, I’m really humbled by the whole experience,” he told the BBC last week. “I was grateful just to get the first win, to get the second is just an unreal feeling.”

Such was Hamilton’s dominance in rescaling the pinnacle and defeating his teammate and bitter rival Nico Rosberg that it is only McIlroy whose exploits can challenge Formula One’s latest double world champion.

The world number one from Holywood in County Down claimed The Open, and the US PGA Championship in arguably the finest golfing season since Tiger Woods’ major-laden 2000 campaign. McIlroy is now a four-time major winner at the age of 25.

His case for being only the third golfer, and the first since Nick Faldo in 1989, to win the BBC’s coveted accoladeis compelling during a year in which he transformed his previous inconsistencies into a season of 17 top 10 finishes.

“I didn’t think in my wildest dreams I’d have a summer like this,” he said in the aftermath of his victory at the US PGA Championships in August.

“To win a fourth major here, to be one behind Phil [Mikelson], one behind Seve [Ballesteros], level with Ernie [Els], level with Raymond Floyd.
“I never thought I’d get this far at 25 years of age.”

A month later he helped Europe to retain the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
The manner in which he tactfully bridges the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland also makes him one of the most popular sports people across the British Isles.

Real Madrid and Wales international Gareth Bale is the distant third favourite at 20/1 with William Hill and it is unlikely to cause an upset.

For all football’s predominance footballers do not lead the roll of honour for BBC Sports Personality of the Year award winners and while Bale helped Real to a tenth European Cup in May he was not the team’s stand-out player despite scoring in the final.

Moreover, Wales’ absence from the World Cup ensured that few of the former Tottenham attacker’s best moments in 2014 were even shown live on the BBC.

Put simply, Bale leads the best of the rest of high achievers whose own candidacies lack the cache that comes with a Formula One world title or a clutch of  golfing majors.

That Hamilton is back on top following the dismal conclusion to his time at McLaren is cause enough for celebration and were he to equal his idol Aryton Senna in lifting a third world title next season his moment at the Beeb could yet come.

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