THE shortlist for the BBC Cymru Welsh Sports Personality of the Year has been revealed – with no rugby players up for the award.
Although Wales and Ospreys outside-half Dan Biggar won the award last year, a lacklustre 12 months for Welsh Rugby means those from other sports – including footballer Gareth Bale, boxer Lee Selby and Olympian Jade Jones – are competing for the title.
Gareth Williams, coaching contact for Clwb Rygbi, said: “These nominations tend to reflect how well the sport is doing. Obviously it’s an Olympic year and that will be reflected in the nominations. But Welsh Rugby has not been doing well at the moment, even though statistically we’ve been a successful.
“Fans can see through the statistics though. You only have to compare the performance this year to previous years. We’ve always been an optimistic country when it comes to sport, that was seen during the Euros. However, we’re behind Ireland and we’re going into the Six Nations with pessimism rather than optimism.”
Gareth Bale is the bookies’ favourite after helping Real Madrid win the Champions League in May before going on to lead Wales to the semi finals of the European Football Championships this summer. He has also been nominated for the UK-wide BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.
Double Olympic gold medalist and European Champion Jade Jones, who retained her Olympic title in Rio in the women’s Taekwondo, 57kg category, is also nominated.
Other nominees include: Fellow gold medallist and sailor Hannah Mills was in the running to win gold in the 470 class at London 2012, but due to a wind shift she fell behind and won silver. She achieved gold in Rio this summer in the same event.
Owain Doull made his debut in international track racing. In May 2016 he announced that he had signed a two year contract with Team Sky for the 2017 season, making his move into road racing. He won gold for the GB cycling team in Rio 2016.
Elinor Barker rides on the track for Great Britain and also the Welsh Cycling backed team USN. She is a two time world champion and European champion in women’s pursuit. She won gold in team pursuit cycling in Rio 2016.
Aled Davies won gold in both the F42 Discus and Shot Put at the Rio Olympics, setting a Paralympic record in the latter. He also won gold in both those events at the IPC World Championships in 2015.
Hollie Arnold is the second Paralympian nominated. She is originally from Grimsby, North Lincolnshire, but now lives and trains in South Wales. She won gold in Javelin in Rio 2016 and was unbeaten through the season.
The final Welsh Sports Personality nominee is Barry boxer Lee Selby. He successfully defended his IBF World Featherweight title in April against American Eric Hunter. He was knocked down for the first time in his career, but he managed to get up and dominate the match – winning by unanimous decision.
Ashleigh Crowter, External Affairs Manager, BBC Wales said: “It has been an incredibly strong, almost unprecedented, year for Welsh sport, so deciding a shortlist meant some tough choices for our expert panel.”
The full list of nominees was compiled by an panel made up of Wales’ most successful Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson; former Wales footballer Nathan Blake; Welsh Gymnastics chief executive Rhian Gibson; Olympic sprinter Christian Malcolm and chaired by former Wales rugby international and National Director, English Institute of Sport, Nigel Walker.
The awards are based on public voting. The polling opened yesterday and will close on Saturday December 3 before the awards are presented at BBC Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff.
More information is available on http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/sports-personality/38135745