Phil Taylor will, as expected, be amongst the contenders to become the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year on 19 December, and currently sits at third favourite to walk-off with the coveted – although actually fairly pointless – award.
Ahead of Taylor another fifteen-times champion is installed as favourite: jump jockey Tony McCoy was the only person to have received the backing of all thirty newspapers and magazines entitled to nomimate (Graeme McDowell clearly did something to annoy the Daily Star), and recognition for AP is a long overdue.
Taylor received fourteen nominations. In other words, even in this year of average British sporting success, the man who went nine months without losing on TV, and who hit two 9-darters in the final of the Premier League, received support from less than half of the print media involved.
‘The Power’ may well have suffered a recent loss of form, but if, over the next few weeks, you come across a gushing article of support for Taylor in the Express, Guardian, Independent, Star, Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, Observer, Sunday Express, Sunday Mirror, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, or Evening Standard, you may want to read it with a pinch of salt (presuming you can find some in snow-infested Britain).
Darts will not be the only minor sport represented at the event; diving and skeleton are also having their moment in the limelight in the forms of Tom Daley and Amy Williams. But only just.
The first seven names into the SPOTY hat each had a minimum of sixteen nominations, but there was then a four-way tie for eighth, with Daley, Taylor and Williams all sharing fourteen votes alongside athlete Mo Farah.
Four into three don’t go, and in this age of semi-transparency, the BBC website tells us that ‘a panel of six former SPOTY winners voted on which three names should go through to the shortlist of 10’.
We don’t know whether it’s Chris Hoy who is the huge fan of jumping into water, whether Joe Calzaghe enjoys sliding down a frozen hill, or if it was Zara Phillips who stoutly defended the art of chucking small bits of metal 7 foot 9 and a quarter inches. What is clear, however, is that being the first Briton to win the 10,000m European gold, doubling that up with the 5,000m, and subsequently breaking David Moorcroft’s 28 year old 5,000m record whilst achieving the first ever sub-13 minutes time is clearly not enough for Mohammed to move this particular mountain.
It’s a peculiar world of sport when darts, diving and skeleton take precedence over running. As the greatest distance athlete of his generation, let’s hope Mo Farah’s time will come.