November means factories stopping production, farmers neglecting their crops and animals, and Apple executives wondering why teenagers have stopped downloading music.
Why? Because everyone is swept along by the maelstrom surrounding who will be this year’s Sports Personality. Not.
For my choice we need to agree on some ground rules.
1) Drop the ‘personality’ tag. (Davies, Mansell, Hill, H.R.H).
My candidate is shy, quiet, and unknown to all but a few.
2) Accept that we Brits treasure glorious failure as much as glorious success. (Rusedski, Gascoigne)
My candidate had a ‘failure’ to die for.
3) Athletics is the greatest sport on the planet. (OK, this may prove difficult for those who like show-jumpinzzzz… - my apologies to both of them.)
My candidate is an athlete named Elvan Abeylegesse.
Born in Ethiopia, as a teenager she was overlooked by their talent scouts and so came to live and train in Istanbul. The Turkish press were initially more interested in the now disgraced Süreyha Ayhan, but she trained hard and became a serious contender at all the distances from 1500m to 10,000m.
Like David Bedford, she is capable of world records alone, but uncomfortable when running in the pack. Like him she tries to wear the opposition down, hoping not to be outsprinted at the death.
Bedford had his Lasse Viren, Elvan has Tirunesh Dibaba.
Dibaba beat her in the 2007 World 10,000 m final in Osaka, taking four seconds out of her in the last lap. Coming into the Olympic final an even stronger Dibaba was waiting, along with an array of track stars.
What followed was one of the bravest 10,000 m races ever.
They set off at a cracking pace and, despite the heat and humidity, six kilometres was reached in 18:12 with each kilometre run faster than 3:04. Six athletes were left in contention.
Elvan had to do something to break Dibaba, but off a pace that was already faster than the Olympic Record, what?
The answer was to run the seventh kilometre in an energy-sapping 2:57, the eighth and the ninth in a staggering 2:54 and 2:55. Every athlete in the group bar one (guess who) was blown away.
I swear I ran every step of those three kilometres; felt the burning in the lungs, the lactic in the legs; the sweat pouring down her face to form dark stains on her vest. I was entranced as she desperately tried to break the one last woman who could deprive her of gold.
Unbelievably, she then ran the last kilometre in 2:50. Dibaba somehow held it together and again went past her on the final lap to clock a simply impossible 2:46. The gap was less than two seconds.
Both women broke 30 minutes, more than 20 seconds faster than the Olympic Record.
Elvan couldn’t even find a Turkish flag to parade on her lap of honour. Turkey’s first silver on the track. They had that little faith.
Your votes, please, for Elvan Abeylegesse.