Friday, November 14, 2008

Who Should win The Sports Personality of the Year, and Why? - mimitig

Over the years there has been a fundamental problem with this BBC award. Is the winner a Personality or a supreme achiever in their sport?

This year will no doubt ask that question again as 2008 has been a year of great achievement for so many sportsmen and women, but how many have imprinted their characters upon us?

For me, there is only one winner. Mark Cavendish – the Manx Express.

Cav is undoubtedly a personality – and by winning four stages of the 2008 Tour de France, he has achieved something never before done by a British cyclist. The Grand Depart this year was in Britanny – spiritual home of cycling – and yet rather low-key compared to the previous “spectacle” in London. But it all went well and as the peloton rolled through the countryside we came to Chateauroux.

Cav punched his fist into the air as he won his first stage.

Stage Eight and Toulouse saw his second stage win – the bunch loomed out of the misty spray, and mouth wide open, Mark Cavendish was first across the line again. Stage 12. 168.5 km from Lavelanet to Narbonne. Cav won the sprint and stage again with style and insouciance after such a bad day for the Tour when Ricco tested positive and the Saunier-Duvel team withdrew.

Mark rode with courage and guts and refused to be bowed by others troubles, or his own injuries.

Narbonne to Nimes, just one day and 182 hard kilometres later, Cav took his fourth stage win in the world’s toughest sporting endeavour. Bleeding but triumphant, as he came over the line Mark held up four fingers, and a bandaged arm to show the world that British cyclists can win, and win clean. A big grin as well, Mark knew that he had broken all records for British cyclists in the Big Race. The interviews were full of his outrageously confident personality and all the better for it.

His next job was The Madison with Bradley Wiggins in Beijing, and as we know, it didn’t work for them. He was one of the very few British cyclists to come away from China without a medal.

In addition to Cavendish’s superb performance in Le Tour, this is another reason why he deserves the SPOTY – he has never complained about the Olympics, never criticised Brad for putting his hunt for the Team and Individual Pursuit Golds ahead of Mark’s one and only chance.

Cav is a professional. And has the most sunshine-bringing smile that I have seen on a sportsman for a very long time.

It would be joyous to think that the amazing success that the GB Cyclists had in Beijing, added to by the almost embarrassing success in Manchester at the first round of the World Cup (you’re not Team GB? Oh sorry, you won’t win anything!), might make the general public vote for a cyclist. That’s if he’s even nominated, of course.


mimi said...

I totally forget that for Seani's stuff, I should have put some links in this thing, so here's one

Allout said...

Hi mimi

I could certainly be persuaded to vote for Cav; but then again I'm a cycling fan. I suspect the problem with explaining your proposal to the Great British public (and the majority of the GU fraternity) would be a lack of understanding of the sport.

"Some Manxman won 4 stages in the Tour you say? But wait a minute. Didn't some small Spaniard riding for a Danish team win."

mimi said...

offsideintahiti said...

Another good illustration that you should write about what you know and love. Good piece, Mimi.

Brittany is the "spiritual home of cycling"? And I thought it was Belgium...

mimi said...

Ah Belgium, Tom Boonen, beer and the madness of the 7 days.

Cycling in La Belge is insane, but I stick with my statement that Brittany is the spiritual home of Le Tour.

MotM said...

A good case well argued Mimi - but Allout is right. It took me years of watching sprint stages to understand even a bit of what was going on and I needed some superb analysis in Cycle Sport's photos to help me.

Sprinters are never short of personality are they? Some might have a bit too much - Cipo, McEwen, Abdou, Boonen, O'Grady, Zabel, the list goes on!

greeengrass said...

a bicycle - made for two - is useful when leaned against a tree so that you can study the heavens with the other rider.
Would that suffice for a SPOTY?

mimi said...

Please don't sully my piece on Cav by mentioning Djamolidine Abdoujaparov - the wildest sprinter in the history of stage racing. He was kicked off the Tour in 1997 for testing positive for Bromantan - something the Red Army used to hand out to their soldiers. Abdou tested positive six times that year.

Shane Sutton, the Aussie says of Abdou "he was never afraid of anything".

Says it all really.

offsideintahiti said...

gg, something like this?

I agree it's the only valid approach to cycling.

greengrass said...

Ta, Offy!
That Froggy lingo has - as you well know - resisted all my paralinguistic sallies.
I was, however, well able to understand Mr. Montand's gestures - the lascivious old sod! - perfectly well, not least the clenched fist and the raised eyebrows.
The hand signals were not exactly Dave Berry class, but will certainly provide an interesting exercise for my students of semiology and semaphore.
The sweep across the audience was priceless: were they all on sedatives? Even Arsene Wenger would have aroused more enthusiasm!

offsideintahiti said...

But it WAS Arsène Wenger singing (they got it wrong on the caption, Yves Montand was Italian anyway).

The hand gestures are a ground-breaking method of giving in-match instructions for defensive duties. In this particular instance, seamlessly switching from ineptiballistical man-marking to comiczonal frog-marching, sorry if it sounds French to you but it works wonders at the Émirettes Music Hall.

MotM said...

Mimi - Point taken about Abdou... but he was a personality!

munni said...

Offie, Bah! I thought I could safely click on a cycling thread without being reminded of the groundbreaking-ness of the Emirettes' defensive strategies. Obviously we're doing it on purpose, to lull the opposition into a false sense of security.

greengrass said...

worry not!
We all know that there's about enough chance of Wenger getting it right as there is of Mimi bringing a tapir into the taprooom.

greengrass said...

delete "enough", insert "as much", please...
Time for my Horlicks...

mimi said...

Look, just show us a Taproom, and the charge of wild tapirs will be something to wonder at.

They've been safe with me, you know. Breeding quietly. Tapirs to die for really.

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