Andy Murray has won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award for a record third time after ending his most successful year in tennis as his sport’s number one player.
Scotsman Murray was the huge odds-on favourite to win the award after winning Wimbledon and Olympic gold for a second time as well as claiming the number one spot from Novak Djokovic and winning the ATP World Tour Finals for the first time.
The award was announced in Birmingham’s Genting Arena with some of sport’s true greats looking on, including the world’s most decorated Olympian Michael Phelps, who was handed a lifetime achievement award by the BBC.
He received the award from Britain’s former world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis via video link at his pre-season training camp in Miami where the Dunblane man is preparing for next month’s Australian Open in Melbourne, the traditional first Grand Slam of the season.
“It’s been a great year for British sport and I am so proud to have been a part of it,” said Murray.
“I’d also like to thank my family. I think my mum is in the crowd there. I’d like to thank my dad as as well, who just got married 10 days ago. I miss you guys.”
Even in an Olympic year, with a whole cast of potential winners following Team GB’s exploits in Rio de Janeiro and forcing the BBC to extend the shortlist to a whopping 16 people, Murray was well clear of an impressive list of champions.
Olympic triathlon gold medalist Alistair Brownlee finished runner-up with veteran showjumping Olympic gold medalist Nick Skelton, 58, claiming third after coming out of retirement having broken his neck in two places 16 years ago, but there was no serious challenge to Dunblane’s Murray, who was a huge 1/6 on with the bookmakers to lift the famous prize.
“A huge thanks to my wife and my daughter – she won’t know what this means yet, but maybe in a few years she will,” said a smiling Murray.
“Actually, I’ve got a bone to pick with my wife because about an hour ago she told me she’d voted for Nick Skelton. Not smart from her with Christmas coming up.”
In 2013, his first Wimbledon title saw him win the public vote and last year his success in steering Great Britain to Davis Cup glory saw him double up.
Henry Cooper, Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell have all won the BBC award twice, but Murray becomes the first individual to win a hat-trick of prizes, firming up the belief that he is Britiain’s greatest sportsperson.
Not only of this year, but of all time.
Full shortlist: Nicola Adams, Gareth Bale, Alistair Brownlee, Sophie Christiansen, Kadeena Cox, Mo Farah, Jason Kenny, Laura Kenny, Andy Murray, Adam Peaty, Kate Richardson-Walsh, Nick Skelton, Dame Sarah Storey, Jamie Vardy, Max Whitlock, Danny Willett.