The nominations for the 2011 BBC Sports personality of the year have been released and features Northern Ireland duo Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy.
The major winners are joined by eight other Sports people all bidding to be crowned the 58th BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
The exclusive list features sports people from the world of Athletics, Golf, Cricket, Cycling, Boxing and Tennis with all countries in the United Kingdom featuring in the nominations.
The shortlist is: Mark Cavendish (cycling), Darren Clarke (golf), Alastair Cook (cricket), Luke Donald (golf), Mo Farah (athletics), Dai Greene (athletics), Amir Khan (boxing), Rory McIlroy (golf), Andy Murray (tennis), Andrew Strauss (cricket).
We look at the contenders and why they have been nominated:
Cricket features twice in the list with history maker Andrew Strauss nominated alongside team mate Alastair Cook. Both played a key role as England won the ashes and re-established England as the number one test team in the World, white washing India for the first time since 1974.
Golf features heavily on the list this year and its now wonder with two of the four majors on offer being scooped up by Northern Irishmen and an Englishman number one in the world. The popularity of Golf is certainly on the rise in the UK and Ireland and a lot of that can be contributed to the trio of Darren Clarke, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy.
They say if at first you don’t succeed try again and for pure persistence Clarke deserves his nomination. The 43 year old claimed the Open in July at the 20th attempt becoming first Northern Irish winner in 64 years.
McIlroy meanwhile has captured the hearts of British and Irish golf over the last 12 months. Every kid wants to be him and after his link up with Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, every man too.
However this nomination is based purely on talent and the Holywood native has that aplenty. The 22 year old became the youngest US Open Champions since 1923 and recently won the biggest cash prize in golf, the Shanghai Masters. McIlroy is the current world number 2 and in many people’s eyes is the favourite to win the BBC Sports personality of the year.
Despite being the only of the trio not to have won a major in 2011 Donald has enjoyed an incredible year winning the PGA Championship at Wentworth and currently topping both the US and European money lists.
Mark Cavendish will bid to follow in the foot step of Tom Simpson and Chris Hoy and claim the award after his nomination. The 26 year old already a MBE became the first British of the Tour de France green jersey – an award given for the race’s best sprinter.
Athlete’s winning the BBC Sports Personality of the award is not that uncommon with 17 winners since its inception in 1954 however only 4 Welsh people have claimed the award, the most recent being Ryan Giggs in 2009.
Bidding to emulate the Manchester United star is Dai Greene who delivered Britain’s first gold of the Athletics World Championships in the 400m hurdles and currently holds World, European and Commonwealth titles.
Another track and field star bidding to claim the award is Mo Farah who won the 5,000m gold at the World Championship in Daegu. Farah achievement’s are all the more staggering considering it was the biggest distance win by a European male since Ireland’s Eamonn Coghlan at the Worlds in 1983 and the first long distance gold won by a British male at a global championships. Farah also claimed a silver medal in the 10,000m final.
Like Welsh Sport, Scotland has also struggled to produce a regular winner with only four men winning previously. Andy Murray could make it five after a fantastic 2011, his best as a professional so far. Despite failing to win that elusive first grand slam, the Scot managed to reach the final of the Australian Open, was a semi finalist in the three other majors and won five titles.
Amir Khan will look to follow in the footsteps of Joe Calzaghe, who win in 2007, and cap a year that saw the 24 year old unify the WBA and IBF light welterweight division.
The winner will be selected by public vote during the live show on Thursday, 22 December from 2000 GMT.
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