Only moments after being crowned the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2013, Andy Murray and his Adidas sponsors released their latest advert mocking the perception around the sportsman, and shattering it once and for all.
Despite not being at the ceremony in person, despite facing stiff competition from other worthy winners of the award, despite having never fully been accepted by the British public – Murray’s victory was a landslide, gaining 56% of the vote.
- Leigh Halfpenny benefited from the British and Irish Lions having a surprisingly large proportion of the evening devoted to them, and came across very well in his interview early, to secure second place.
- Tony McCoy had the support of the racing fraternity in a year where he achieved the sensational achievement of 4,000 winners.
- Mo Farah, the man with the “mobot”, and the star of the athletics scene, having now won five successive global distance titles and is the second most recognizable face in athletics.
- Chris Froome, who secured a second successive Tour de France for Great Britain and is the leading stage-race cyclist in the world.
- Ben Ainslie, who was a key component in Team Oracle USA competing one of the great sporting comebacks of all time to retain the America’s Cup 9-8, having been 8-1 down.
None of them came close to Andy Murray.
Murray’s 2013 season was not quite as impressive as it was in 2012, where he not only became the Olympic champion, but secured his first Grand Slam at the US Open. But becoming the first British male to win the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936 meant that in the eyes of the British public, it was the sporting moment of the year.
In a season where a back injury prematurely ended his year and surgery forced him to miss the French Open (and hampered him at the US Open), he still managed to win Wimbledon and help guide Great Britain back into the Davis Cup World Group for the first time since 2008.
His Wimbledon title was perhaps the moment when he finally connected with the British public. His win was the most talked about moment on Facebook this year the broadcast had a ratings peak of 17.3 million viewers, the highest on TV this year.
Having not played since September due to injury, the priority for Murray was to ensure that he returned to 100% fitness in time for the Australian Open in January, an event that despite him reaching the final on three occasions, he has yet to win. That is something that he plans to put right.
He could have chosen to attend the ceremony in Leeds in person. But doing so would have taken days out of his training and preparation, and having only started to practice again at full intensity in the last ten days, and with the hardest work still to be done, he felt he couldn’t take the time out of his schedule to attend.
His hard work will continue over the Christmas period. He will be training in Miami until Christmas Eve, when he will fly to Abu Dhabi. He will then begin his season with an exhibition on Boxing Day. And he will certainly be practicing on Christmas Day…
Nobody as of yet has ever retained the Sports Personality of the Year Trophy. Next year, he could become the first person to do so. In a fallow year for major sporting championships, bar the Winter Olympics (where the low profile of the sports involved would stop any gold medalist gaining wider recognition), and the football World Cup (where England would be unlikely victors), Murray is possibly the best bet to do so.
He is possibly the best British sportsman at the moment, given his standing in the tennis world and the high level of competition. And his work ethic and will to succeed means that he is only going to get better.
Not bad for a man with no personality…