As this year (and decade come to think of it) comes to a close, we are at that stage where one the year’s biggest events occurs that signifies everything good that has happened in British sport over the past twelve months.
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards will be held at the newly built P&J Live Arena in Aberdeen where six nominees will vie to win the prestigious honour that in the past ten years alone have witnessed a hat-trick of triumphs for tennis great Andy Murray as well as victories for the cycling trio of Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas, the latter of whom claimed last year’s crown.
2019 has certainly seen some worthwhile achievements – England’s men’s cricket team winning the World Cup for the first time in dramatic fashion in a spellbinding final against New Zealand, Dina Asher-Smith leading the line with a gold medal at the Athletic World Championships in the 200m (becoming the first British woman to do so in the process) and Manchester City winning the domestic treble of the Premier League, the FA Cup and the League Cup.
These and many other moments are all fine examples of what has happened over the course of this year that has led to it being another fine time for British sport.
But who will win the main award of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year?
All signs appear to point towards Ben Stokes, who on top of his match-saving and -winning contribution against New Zealand in the World Cup Final, scored an unbeaten 135 as England somehow defeated Australia by one wicket in the third Ashes Test at Headingley to capture what had been a successful summer in cricket.
Which leads to this question: Who could possibly be in contention to beat him to the main prize?
We’ll start with someone previously mentioned in Asher-Smith, the recently turned 24-year-old who was the undisputed star of the Great Britain team that went to the World Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar with her gold medal triumph in the 200m plus two silver medals in the 100m and the 4x100m.
It’s worth remembering that she was one of six nominees last year, but finished outside of the top three despite winning three gold medals at the European Championships in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m. Surely she has to be a challenger this year?
A fellow winner in Doha was Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who after years of coming close, but ultimately failing in trying to win an outdoor heptathlon title, was crowned world champion and at the same time broke Jessica Ennis-Hill’s British record by reaching 6,981 points on her way to the crown, a tally of 304 greater than the 2017 champion and silver medallist Nafissatou Thiam.
What better way would there be for her to round off 2019 than by winning the Sports Personality of the Year – something that even alluded Ennis-Hill during her golden years.
However, we cannot get this far without possibly mentioning Lewis Hamilton, who won a sixth Formula One World Championship after retaining his title during a glorious campaign that saw him pick up 11 victories across 21 races, taking him to 83 wins overall and leaving him just eight shy of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.
Speaking of the German, should Hamilton get another world title, then he will move level with the great man onto seven championships, which even his most ardent critics would have to admit that he is one of Great Britain’s greatest sportspeople.
He did win the award in 2015 and has finished runner-up on three occasions, so does he look likely to figure in with a chance of becoming a two-time winner? We’ll have to watch to find out.
Next up is Alun Wyn Jones, who at 34 shows no indication that he is ready to retire any time soon, which is understandable having captained Wales to a Six Nations Grand Slam in addition to being named Player of the Championship by his fellow professionals and writers.
The lock was a key member of the Welsh team’s run to the semi-finals of the Rugby Union World Cup in Japan, where he became the most capped individual for his country at the tournament by making his 143rd appearance at international level, including nine Tests for the British and Irish Lions.
And finally, we come to Raheem Sterling, the Manchester City and England midfielder who has gone from strength to strength both on and off the field during a year that has brought much success to a man that was named the Football Writers Association’s Footballer of the Year for his prolific displays for club and country plus his very public stance against racism.
He has scored eight times for England this year, making it his most successful year yet under Gareth Southgate and his goals for City saw them retain the Premier League and the League Cup as well as winning the FA Cup with a 6-0 thrashing of Watford to become the first side to win the domestic treble.
While the ceremony has (justifiably) been criticised for being a light entertainment spectacle instead of a serious sports show, it still resonates with the public and is treated with respect across the sporting world nearly 65 years after the first event in 1954 when Christopher Chataway was named the inaugural winner ahead of Roger Bannister.
To bring us back to the title of the article, can anyone but Ben Stokes win the award?
We’ll have to tune in to BBC One tomorrow night from 7pm to see for ourselves, but I think it’s safe to say it will be an enjoyable experience.