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And the winners are… overlooked

One is the world heavyweight champion of the world, the other – the first British tennis player to win a junior open. Yet David Haye and Heather Watson both went away empty-handed at the BBC sports awards last night.

By Lester Holloway

Watson, 17, who triumphed at the US Open earlier this year, was beaten to the BBC Youth Personality of the Year by diver Tom Daley. Daley, 15, had been feted by the media as Britain’s youngest competitor in the Beijing Olympics, but that praise failed to translate into performance as his scores nose-dived, eventually finishing 7th in the table.

‘Hayemaker’ Haye, who packs an exuberate personality as well as a hefty punch, became Britain’s first heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis last lifted a belt in 2003. Yet the he failed to make even the top three in a public vote for the coveted BBC Sports Personality title, which was won by a shocked Ryan Giggs, the veteran Manchester United player.

Haye’s victory over the giant Russian Nikolai Valuev – a literal David versus Goliath battle – appeared to capture the public imagination but that counted for little at the Sheffield arena last night. It was a throw-back to the lack of praise that plagued Lennox in his pomp, at least in Britain.

But while Lennox’s boxing excellence was offset by a subdued personality, the same cannot be said of Haye who’s outgoing nature and good looks should have put him in the frame for the BBC award last night.

It’s difficult to judge whether the result is a reflection of a basic lack of regard for boxing in general or some other factor. But when Cassius Clay burst on the scene, America recognised a superstar when they saw one.

Britain has a long track record of failing to properly honour some of it’s’ most talented sports stars like Olympic champion sprinter Linford Christie.

I look forward to the day when supremely self-confident, athletic black men do not have to play the fool like pantomime-king Frank Bruno before being truly accepted.

And a day when the heart-throb status of media favourites, like Daley, does not outshine the silverware that genuine winners like Watson amass.

Instead of lavishing attention on perennial nearly-men and women like Paula Radcliffe, it’s time that the UK gave credit where credit is due.

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2 Responses

  1. No credible source, boxrec, Ring magazine etc, rates Haye the real world heavyweight champion. When he has beaten the Klitschkos he will deserve the award, and he will probably win it, unless Murray wins Wimbledon or England win the World Cup.

    The racial element to this article is absurd. Linford Christie won the award in 1992, and Frank Bruno went into panto because he was already popular, like hundreds of white celebrities. Five blacks have won sports personality in the last 28 years, which is something like six times their share of the population.

    As for Watson and Daley, he is a world champion, she isn’t even the best British junior, and she’s a lot older than Laura Robson, who has already had more success than her on the senior circuit. And how are you going to explain the failure of a pretty upper middle class white girl like Robson to win the junior award after the most notable junior achievement in sport in my lifetime as an example of prejudice?

  2. Sorry Lester, but as osomec points out Daley won the World Championship in Rome in July 2009. His efforts in the Beijing Olympics are irrelevant because they were in 2008.

    I think Giggs won because football is miles more popular than boxing or athletics or grand prix, and fellow Man Utd fans outnumber the fans of the other contenders.

    This defeat was not because Haye ‘wuz robbed’. His achievement, whilst encouraging was not convincing (largely uneventful split points victory) and does not evoke the need for comparisons with Ali – but perhaps with Rocky IV! It captured the imagination, because it seemed like a freak-show (and was promoted as such) not because Haye looked like a modern day Joe Louis.

    Jessica Ennis (who interestingly you omit) was probably the most deserving in my book (as Button’s success was down to a superior vehicle), but if the issue of ethnicity was being inferred then take heart that the SPotY was still partly of African descent given Giggs’ Sierra Leonean heritage.

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