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Monday, 26 November 2012
Rory McIlroy - Race to Dubai champion  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy - Race to Dubai champion (Getty Images)

World and European Number One Rory McIlroy has reacted with pride to the news that he is the only non-Olympian to earn a place on the 12-strong shortlist for this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

As expected, stars of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games dominate the list, while five female athletes have made the cut in contrast to last year's controversial all-male shortlist.

McIlroy, who won his second Major title this year and finished top of both the Race to Dubai and US money list, said: "I am delighted to be nominated again for Sports Personality of the Year.

"It is a real honour to be nominated two years in a row. With it being an Olympic year, and with so many outstanding achievements in British sport in 2012, the voting is sure to go right down to the wire."

McIlroy is joined on the shortlist by Nicola Adams, who made history by becoming the first Olympic women's boxing champion when she floored world number one Ren Cancan en route to a memorable points win in London.

Adams told the Press Association: "I didn't expect to be nominated, let along make the short list. There are so many big names on the list, and so many others who didn't make it, that I am just happy to be part of it.

"I have watched Sports Personality of the Year for years and I never once thought I would be part of it. I would have been happy enough with my gold medal. Everything that is happening now is just a bonus."

Katherine Grainger's British rowing team-mates reacted with delight to the news that Grainger, whose double sculls gold medal with Anna Watkins came on the back of three consecutive Olympic silvers, had also made a cut.

In a joint statement they said: "We are very proud that Katherine has made the shortlist, representing not only the rowing team but women in sport. She has given so much to her team and country that it is brilliant she is being recognised in this way."

Cyclist Bradley Wiggins is the bookmakers' odds-on favourite after his historic triumph in the Tour de France and gold in the Olympic time trial, ahead of Mo Farah, double gold medallist in the 5,000metres and 10,000m.

Andy Murray, who became the first British man to win a Grand Slam singles title for 76 years when he triumphed in the US Open and also won an Olympic gold for good measure, is ranked third favourite with the bookies just ahead of Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis.

David Weir is one of three Paralympians on the list, the four-time London gold medallist joined by another four-time London Paralympic champion, cyclist Sarah Storey, and swimmer Ellie Simmonds

Barbara Slater, the director of BBC Sport who chaired the shortlisting panel, admitted that having to leave out so many big names had been painful.

Slater said in a BBC blog: "We had already extended the shortlist for the main award this year from 10 to 12, but at times we all wished it was nearer 15 or 20.

"It was very difficult to leave off Olympians and Paralympians of the calibre of Charlotte Dujardin, Alistair Brownlee, Jade Jones, Sophie Christiansen, Laura Trott, Jonnie Peacock, Jason Kenny and Victoria Pendleton, to name just a few."

The expert panel included national newspaper sports editors and three former award nominees, Sir Steve Redgrave, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Denise Lewis.

The panel also selected the winners of the coach of the year, team of the year and overseas personality.

The main award will be chosen by public vote and announced at the Sports Personality of the Year show from London's ExCeL centre on December 16.
Shortlist (in alphabetical order): Nicola Adams (Olympic boxing), Ben Ainslie (Olympic sailing), Jessica Ennis (Olympic heptathlon), Mo Farah (Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m), Katherine Grainger (Olympic rowing), Sir Chris Hoy (Olympic cycling), Rory McIlroy (world number one golfer and USPGA champion), Andy Murray (Olympic tennis and US Open champion), Ellie Simmonds (Paralympic swimming), Sarah Storey (Paralympic cycling), David Weir (Paralympic wheelchair athlete), Bradley Wiggins (Olympic cycling and Tour de France winner).



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