the BBC issued a shortlist of 10 sporting celebrities to contest this year's
vote for Sports Personality of the Year but as far as the bookmakers are
concerned only three names should be considered. After Lewis Hamilton, Rebecca
Adlington and Chris Hoy, the next best in the betting is the 66-1 shot Joe
Calzaghe, which suggests that the layers believe it will be one of the top
three who collects the prize.
Hamilton, at 10-11 (Bet365), has to be
favourite given his formula one drivers' title success and a win for the
McLaren man is the result most firms fear. William Hill have reported bets of
up to £2,500 on Hamilton while Extrabet have laid a £1,000 bet at
9-2 among other four-figure wagers.
For punters who have backed Hamilton at
odds against - and on Betfair he drifted to 10.0 (9-1) when it momentarily
looked like he might not overtake Timo Glock in the Brazilian grand prix last
month - then you can sit back and enjoy a clutch of BBC presenters fawning over
your man a week on Sunday safe in the knowledge that you have a value bet. But
for those who have yet to invest, I am not quite sure he represents a fair
price at 10-11.
As usual with awards decided by public votes,
achievement is not the only thing to consider. Hamilton's success would
normally see him win comfortably - seven formula one drivers have won before -
but his tax-exile status in Switzerland will not have endeared him to the
masses and he splits opinion even among grand prix followers from this country.
There is also the fact that the BBC did not have coverage of F1 this
year, although they do in 2009 and Joe Calzaghe proved 12 months ago that lack
of terrestrial television coverage is not a hindrance to taking the award. On
TV figures alone, Hamilton should win easily - none of Adlington's and Hoy's
events came close to attracting the almost 9m viewers that tuned in live to the
Brazilian grand prix.
Adlington, who was backed yesterday into 7-4
(Boylesports, Coral), could well argue her two gold medals and 800m freestyle
world-record swim (breaking a mark that had stood for 19 years) is a greater
achievement that Hamilton's. And, unlike with Hamilton, you would be hard
pushed to find someone to criticise Adlington for the way she conducts herself
in or out of the pool. Is that enough to sway a vote in her favour? It is
difficult to say, but of those who might vote that do not follow sport
Adlington is more likely to prosper among them (such as Zara Phillips did two
years ago) and, at the prices, she is a better bet that Hamilton.
Remember, odds-on shots do get turned over in this competition. Darren
Clarke was as short as 2-7 in 2006 before being denied by the 3-1 shot
Phillips, while Hamilton traded at just 1-3 last year but failed to attract as
much support on the night as Calzaghe, who won the award despite being offered
at 9-1. Second-guessing the public is no easy task and backing odds-on shots
has proved spectacularly unprofitable in recent years.
Hoy, who won
three golds in Beijing (a record for a Briton in a single Games), has been
backed in recent weeks from 7-1 to 5-1 (general) but the presence of three
other cyclists on the shortlist could split the vote from that sport.Paddy
Power has come up with tricast betting with Hamilton-Adlington-Hoy in that
order quoted at 2-1, which is worth a saver in case Adlington misses out on top
Elsewhere, Usain Bolt, at 2-5 (general), is a worthy favourite
of the overseas award following his historic three gold-medal/world-record
Olympics. Michael Phelps, 3-1 (Betfred) second favourite, is his only realistic
challenger due to his record eight gold medals in the Beijing pool.
the junior category it is difficult to see why Laura Robson, the Wimbledon
Girls' champion, is as short as 2-7 (Ladbrokes). A more deserving winner is
surely Eleanor Simmonds, the British Paralympian swimmer who won two gold
medals at the age of 13 and who can be backed at 5-2 (Ladbrokes). Unlike the
main award the overseas and junior gongs are decided by a panel of experts
rather than a public vote.
Selections Rebecca Adlington to
win BBC Sports Personality of the Year at 7-4 (Boylesports, Coral)
Hamilton-Adlington-Hoy tricast at 2-1 (Paddy Power) Eleanor Simmonds to
win BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year at 5-2 (Ladbrokes)