The BBC Sports Personality of the Year Is...

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By Nick Howson | December 16, 2012 8:33 PM EST

It may not be the biggest sporting prize of 2012, but the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award can still spark frenzied discussion, and after the greatest year of sporting excellence in recent memory, the competitor who receives this year's trophy could legitimately claim to be one of British sport's finest ever athletes.

Any one of the 12 nominees (see foot of article) for the main award fully deserves to attract the public vote at Sunday evening's show at the Excel Centre. But which one will it be? Ahead of the main event, we lobbied the IBTimes UK sports desk and beyond to see where their vote is going.

Adrian Back

BBC Sports Personality of the Year award: 1. Andy Murray 2. Bradley Wiggins 3. Jessica Ennis

I think we can all agree that had Andy Murray won his first Grand Slam title in any other year, he would have been a dead cert to pick up this award. We had been waiting a long time - 35 years to be precise - since our last singles champion, when Virginia Wade won Wimbledon at the 16th time of asking.

She beat competition from Sir Geoffrey Boycott to claim the famed SPOTY trophy but she was not the last British player to pick up the award. No, that privilege belongs to one of our last great hopes of men's tennis, Greg Rusedski, who pipped Tim Henman to the 1997 award.

And what did Rusedski do in 1997 to deserve it? He reached a final, but lost to Pat Rafter in the US Open Final. Clearly there were not many strong candidates that year...

Unfortunately for Murray, 2012 will go down as one of Britain's most memorable years for individual sporting achievements. But forget those Olympians and the lad with the sideburns, this award should be hoisted aloft by Murray.

He may not always come across as the most charismatic man, but there was barely a dry eye on centre court when he lost the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer and his emotions got the best of him. Lesser men would have crumbled and accepted their role; always the best man, never the groom.

Yet within one month he was on the same stage and this time it was tears of joy that flowed down his cheeks as he overcame his chief tormentor, Federer, to claim Olympic gold. On the very same afternoon he landed a silver medal alongside Laura Robson and further endeared himself to the public.

Combine this with his heroics in the US Open, where he won his first Slam after four finals losses, against his arch-rival and good friend Novak Djokovic, and it is clear that Murray deserves to be recognised as Sports Personality of the Year.

Coach of the Year: Dave Brailsford

Team of the Year: Europe's Ryder Cup team

Overseas Personality of the Year: David Rudisha

Vanessa Keller

BBC Sports Personality of the Year: 1. Jessica Ennis 2. Bradley Wiggins 3. Mo Farah

This year's SPOTY is going to be hotly contested, no matter who comes out on top. Bradley Wiggins is the bookies' front-runner, but there can really be no favourite with so many huge names up for the award.

For me, the person who stood out for Britain this year was Jessica Ennis. Not only being the best in the country, but the best in the world at seven different disciplines, she excelled in the moment that counted the most, at her home Olympic Games in London, and set new records for both her country and even herself in her weakest events.

Her appeal hasn't just reached sports fans, but also a nation of young girls, and her character and attitude are much more of a healthy inspiration than many modern-day female celebrities.

Her personality - the rather significant P component in the SPOTY award - has stood out across the board. While many athletes shun the media where they can, she has taken all the attention and pressure in her stride and connected with her fans wherever possible. You wouldn't find one person who has met her who wouldn't describe her as 'lovely', and for that reason, at the height of her career, she deserves to be honoured.

Coach of the Year: Neil Lennon

Team of the Year: Paralympic GB

Overseas Personality of the Year: Michael Clarke

Nick Howson

BBC Sports Personality of the Year: 1. Bradley Wiggins 2. Andy Murray 3. Nicola Adams

Every year, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award throws up the age-old question of how to compare different sporting achievements. In 2012, Bradley Wiggins, the first British Tour de France winner and Olympic time trial champion, has made the task far simpler. To compare his accomplishments with any other during a golden year of sport would be to undermine them; he is instead the precedent, the trail blazer, the most elusive British sportsman of his generation.

The Tour de France isn't just cycling's premier example of excellence, it represents the gold standard in sporting competition. Its varying stages across three weeks of competition test all the components required from a world class performer, let alone a cyclist; speed, endurance, tenacity, mental toughness, pain threshold and tactical shrewdness. Over such a short period of time, no athlete can profess to go through such extremes when competing.

Wiggins's success in the tour completed 12 months of dominance at the heart of the glittering Team Sky squad. The 32-year-old never finished off the podium in the year leading up to the event. Instead of peaking once during the year, Wiggins subjected himself to demands few other sportsmen could contemplate, peaking consistently on the road. Victories at the Criterium du Dauphine and Paris-Nice alone would have represented an impressive year.

The Tour's enormity on the cycling calendar needs no explaining. For many cyclists even a home Olympic Games would have been a crushing comedown from the elation, but for the focused Wiggins London 2012 was simply another routine operation. After assisting Mark Cavendish's unsuccessful attempt to win the men's road race, 10 days after finishing with the yellow jersey on the Champs-Elysees he claimed time trial gold at a sun-bathed Hampton Court by a margin of 42 seconds.

Now, Wiggins leads the fight for safety on the roads, following an accident while out cycling in November. Any athlete who tackles the greatest of hurdles at home and abroad possesses  undeniable credentials to be Sports Personality of the Year.

Coach of the Year: Ivan Lendl

Team of the Year: Europe's Ryder Cup Team

Overseas Personality of the Year: Usain Bolt

David Gilbert

BBC Sports Personality of the Year: 1. Bradley Wiggins 2. Mo Farah 3. Rory McIlroy

Coach of the Year: Roberto Di Matteo

Team of the Year: Team GB

Overseas Personality of the Year: Lionel Messi

Ewan Palmer

BBC Sports Personality of the Year: 1. Bradley Wiggins 2. Jessica Ennis 3. Andy Murray

Coach of the Year: Jose María Olazabal

Team of the Year: Team GB

Overseas Personality of the Year: Lionel Messi

Alfred Joyner

BBC Sports Personality of the Year:  1. Bradley Wiggins 2. Mo Farah 3. Jessica Ennis

Coach of the Year: Dave Brailsford

Team of the Year: Team GB

Overseas Personality of the Year: Usain Bolt

Dominic Gover

BBC Sports Personality of the Year:  1. Bradley Wiggins 2. Jessica Ennis 3. Mo Farah

Coach of the Year: Shane Sutton

Team of the Year: Team Sky

Overseas Personality of the Year: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

THE 12 NOMINEES FOR THE MAIN BBC SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR AWARD

JESSICA ENNIS Won heptathlon gold at London 2012, and a nation fell in love.

BRADLEY WIGGINS First British winner of the Tour de France, who ten days later won his fourth Olympic gold medal.

SARAH STOREY Won four London 2012 cycling golds. Britain's most decorated Paralympian.

MO FARAH Won 10,000m at London 2012 before grabbing gold in the 5,000m a week later.

NICOLA ADAMS First woman to win Olympic boxing gold.

ANDY MURRAY Ended Britain's 76-year wait for a men's Grand Slam singles title, then won Olympic gold against Federer at Wimbledon.

KATHERINE GRAINGER Won gold at the fourth attempt after silvers in Athens, Sydney and Beijing.

SIR CHRIS HOY Won his sixth Olympic gold at London 2012, beating Steve Redgrave's British record.

ELLIE SIMMONDS  4ft of concentrated swimming power, winning two Paralympic golds at London 2012.

DAVID WEIR Four gold medals in the T54 wheelchair class at London 2012.

BEN AINSLIE Won his fourth Olympic gold off the Dorset coast.

RORY McILROY Five titles, that Ryder Cup and world No.1 may not be enough to make him SPOTY 2012.

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