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23.00 SPOTY Post-script. Robbo has just got in touch to remind me: “you do owe me a pint for the lack of paul scholes nomination”. That’s right, I inaccurately predicted that the veteran Man Utd midfielder would be up for a nomination following his heroic return to football this year. You win some, you lose some. Resty over and out.
22.31 Thanks to everyone who joined in tonight’s live blog – hope you enjoyed the show – have a great Christmas and see you in the new year!
22.30 “There’s a free bar paid for by the BBC,” jests a triumphant Wiggo, who completes a hattrick of personal sporting successes this year. So that’s where our license fee is going! Only joking, it’s been a fantastic night of entertainment from the Beeb, and a wonderful way to celebrate an unforgettable year of sport.
22.27 BRADLEY WIGGINS WINS! Robbo and I accurately predicted it back in Edinburgh in August. No need for this evening’s proceedings then, really… 😀
22.26 London 2012’s poster girl Jess Ennis comes 2nd with Blur’s The Universal accompanying her on stage – so far so good for me and Robbo!
22.25 1.5m phone votes says Sue Barker. 3rd place is Andy Murray. Robbo and I are spot on so far…
Lennox Lewis presenting the award to Andy at the other end of a video screen – hilarity!
22.20 “I’m so flattered and so honoured to be the recipient of this trophy,” says Lord Coe. An emotional speech from ‘Mr London 2012′ who pays tribute to everyone who made the Olympics the success they were.
22.19 KATE MIDDLETON!
22.12 It’s the lifetime achievement award now, and the man who won SPOTY for that freekick in 2002 hands it to Lord Coe – the Olympics continue to dominate the night but you can’t deny he deserves it! Coe and his team delivered a games which went without a hitch.
Security at the Crystal Palace athletics ground prevented me from getting his autograph at the Grand Prix back in July 2005, weeks after London won the bid!
22.10 Football journalists Brian Woolnough and Danny Fullbrook remembered in the montage of sporting heroes to have passed away in the last year. The media lounge at Wembley Stadium has been renamed “The Danny Fullbrook Lounge”.
22.07 Bolt the overseas sports personality. Next.
22.02 “This show used to get genuine winners like David Steele” – more wise words from Restall Snr, who is getting ever more frustrated with the Olympics overload. Steele, a cricketer who won the award in 1975, was nicknamed “the bank clerk who went to war“. After bravely battling the Australian bowling might of Thompson and Lillee, notching up four half-centuries in the series. His local butcher apparently gave him a pork chop for every run he scored for the England test team. A true legend.
22.00 The clock strikes ten and Dave Brailsford is named as Britain’s top coach. After winning the last 8 games in a row, I’m told Leyton Orient’s Russell Slade was a close second for the trophy.
21.58 “Sounds like some kind of high-brow Opera” says my Dad to “Strauss and Navratilova” coming on stage to present the coach of the year gong. I’m inclined to agree – bizarre combo from the Beeb.
21.57 “’Team GB & Paralympics GB': not a team. So stupid and yet so predictable. Yawn.” – wise words from a former-Somerville classicist. The Golfers woz robbed.
21.55 Roy Hodgson gets to sit next to Zara Phillips and one away from Tom Daley. Can we swap places Roy?
21.48 Time for Team of the Year. Any other year it would have been the golfers for their Ryder Cup exploits (see below) but it’s Team GB, #OurGreatestTeam, and yet another chance for Auntie Beeb to show us a montage of their coverage of London 2012. That wasn’t cynicism – our medal winning Olympic and Paralympic athletes crafted an unforgettable summer for these Isles. And who better than Oxford’s very own Sir Roger Bannister, fresh from meeting Tom Ough in June, to present the award.
Let’s also not forget Wigan Athletic in this category – the Beeb clearly haven’t with a cheeky pan over to Roberto Martinez. Classic!
Top tweet: @chrisdoliver Mum votes for Andy Murray once, I vote for
#Wiggo twice #SPOTY2012 #ComeOnWiggo
@restyrestall: sorry, I’m on your Mum’s side
21.44 Jim and Sue Horton presented with the Unsung Heroes award – “with a great team around you it’s amazing what you will achieve”
21.40 Was on a train to my to my Aunt’s 60th birthday party when the sporting world stood still on March 17 – it’s incredible that Fabrice Muamba is up on stage presenting an award nine months on tonight with the medical team which saved his life.
21.38 @darrenhunt has tweeted: “Football has lowered the tone on
#SPOTY2012” – perhaps, but anyone beating Barcelona last season was like another sprinter snatching Bolt’s 100m crown!
21.34 Would love Roberto Di Matteo to get coach of the year, masterminded a first Champions League victory
for Chelsea and an FA Cup to boot, before being sacked a few weeks back. But the smart money’s on Team Sky and Team GB cycling’s Dave Brailsford.
20.30 Get calling – the lines are all open and the numbers are backed by that epic Underworld track from the opening ceremony. I’ve just got goosebumps.
21.27 The “Weirwolf” is welcomed with a light-show which wouldn’t look out of place in a Dr Who episode, but it’s an incredibly well deserved entrance. His four golds were the undisputed highlight in the most successful Paralympics Team GB has ever had and as Clare Balding rightly said – put the games on a parallel with the Olympics.
21.25 I also can’t recall any mention of Roy Hodgson and England’s Euro 2012 campaign, but equally amidst
21.20 Team GB finished fourth on the track & field medals table with 4 golds – their best since 1964 – but head coach Charles van Commenee stepped down in September after failing to meet his target of 8 medals. Promising for Rio 2016 with such a taste for success.
21.13 Looking back on Super Saturday now, and a day which will forever go down in British history. Jess Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford all struck gold in an electric Olympic Stadium. The handful who chose to watch the evening’s proceedings at The Bullfinch in Riverhead helped the pub come alive during my shift.
21.11 Sergio Aguero tweets a picture of ExCel tonight: https://twitter.com/aguerosergiokun/status/280418743572647936/photo/1
21.09 “Why is Didier Drogba there?” says my bemused Dad, before I remind him that even if the footy isn’t top billing tonight, the Ivory Coast striker’s goal did win Chelsea their first Champions League crown back in May.
21.04 Sadly not a Rocky-esque montage for Team GB’s first female Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams but they’re more than making up for it by introducing the combat sport stars one by one onto the stage. Adams recently topped the IoS Pink List which recognises influential LGBT figures – ahead of tonight’s presenter Clare Balding.
20.59 @Tukka says: “If you don’t “get golf” after this montage, there’s no hope for you.
#spoty2012” and he’s not far wrong – I wasn’t much of a golf fan until Europe completed “mission impossible” with an astonishing comeback at the Ryder Cup. Ian Poulter led the way as Europe snatched 8 and a half points on the final day in Medinah. Jose Maria Olazabal’s heroic golfers have to be the team of the year – I’ll eat my hat if it’s Man City.
20.56 Aside from a brief glimpse of Andrew Strauss, the England cricket team has also been forgotten tonight. While it’s been a mixed year for the test team following back-to-back Ashes glories with defeats to Pakistan and South Africa, Alastair Cook’s team are on the brink of an historic series victory in India. The new England captain recorded his 23rd test century last week.
20.53 The briefest of mentions to Peter Wilson who shot to fame in the clay pigeon event at London 2012 – one of the “forgotten champions” of the Olympics.
20.47 My mate Robbo has correctly predicted the last few SPOTY winners, including Cavendish last year. During the Edinburgh Fringe we discussed over a whisky the candidates for this year – scrawled on the back of a beer mat I have Wiggins, Ennis, Murray as the 1-2-3.
20.43 Yep, that’s a four second delay between Sue Barker and the Sir Chris Hoy videolink. Bringing back memories of the Mike Bassett videolink – footy fans will know what I’m talking about.
Top tweet: @PeterPRandRadio Is it me, or is
#SPOTY2012 treating non-Olympic or non-Paralympic sports such as rugby, football and horse racing like ad breaks? #SPOTY
@restyrestall it’s nice to see some other sports take centre stage this year
20.39 @GuyFoxLondon asks the question on everyone’s lips this evening: What happens if there is a tie for Sports Personality of the Year? Does it get decided by degree of difficulty?
Top tweet: @andrewcembling What an incredibly moving story. Martine Wright a deserved winner of the Helen Rollason award 2012. The embodiment of courage
20.30 Martine Wright wins the Helen Rollason award for “outstanding achievement in the face of adversity” – what an incredible story. Wright competed at the Paralympics in the sitting volleyball having lost both of her legs in the 7/7 bombings, the day after London won the games. She dedicates her award to PC Elizabeth Kenworthy who saved her life, and the 52 who were tragically killed in the attacks.
20.27 Comedian Lee Nelson attempts to bring British rowing back down to earth with a bump (punbelievable tekkers there…) by tweeting: “We only won the rowing coz we’ve got more posh people than any other country
#spoty2012“. But at least he loves the Rad Cam…
20.23 Rowing is now in the limelight, and it’s a year Katherine Grainger (a modern day Robert the Bruce according to Clare Balding) will never forget. It’s also been a year of highs and lows for Oxford’s rowers – Trinity’s Constantine Louloudis picked up a bronze stroking the Men’s 8 but earlier in the year Trenton Oldfield hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons – if the BBC did a “Villain of the Year” surely he’d be a contender?
20.19 Live via videolink, Murray and Sue Barker joke about his Wimbledon speech which left the nation in more tears than when Peter Colt won it in the 2003 film version…
20.18 I’m in agreement with @ma77anderson – this has been the toughest one to call for years. #comeoneandy anyone?
Top tweet: @ma77anderson Can’t decide which
#spoty2012 short lister to vote for – just let them all have one each eh? #fb
20.16 “I’m a Murray fan” says my brother Will, but the Restall family favourite doesn’t appear to be the nation’s favourite. Wiggo still the bookies’ best bet for the crown tonight.
20.13 Balding banters with the Brownlee brothers – couldn’t resist a bit of alliteration. World Champion Jonathan memorably battled back to take the bronze in the Olympic triathlon after a time penalty as older brother Alistair took gold.
20.09 The ExCel is doing the Poznan as Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany celebrate Man City’s Premier League title on stage with Gary Lineker. Don’t get me wrong – City’s title win on the last day of the 2011/12 season was incredible, but no way near as inspirational as the Paralympic triumphs we’ve just relived.
20.06 One of London 2012’s poster boys Tom Daley is up on stage to present the Young Sports Personality of the Year award – an award the diver has won three times. Daley hands this year’s trophy to Josef Craig, a 15-year-old swimmer who took gold in the 400m freestyle at the Paralympics.
20.00 Clare Balding notes that Ellie Simmonds is just 18 but has already lived an incredibly full sporting life. Simmonds secured a second double-gold haul two swimming at the Paralympics and has already won the Young Sports Personality of the Year gong after winning two gold medals aged just 13 in Beijing.
19.58 Right. Back from the kitchen armed with a chicken pie – this is going to be a long night.
Top tweet: @tara_mulholland Right, that’s it, I’m gonna say it – I fancy Bradley Wiggins rotten, and none of you can stop me
19.50 Bizarre mention of the Cardiff v Liverpool League Cup final – I suppose they have to get football in somewhere. If “Sporting Events in 2012″ were a category on BBC’s quiz show Pointless, I’d guarantee you now that Alexander Armstrong would be listing that game as a “pointless” answer. Even I’d forgotten it and I live and breathe football…
19.46 First British winner of the Tour de France and Olympic time trial king Bradley Wiggins very gracious onstage with Sue Barker praising the team behind his triumphs – you could be mistaken for thinking it was the Brit Awards as Wiggo looks more Paul Weller than Olympian!
19.43 Welcome! As you can imagine, the night is going to be one massive homage to London’s hugely-successful Olympic games. We’ve already had last year’s winner Mark Cavendish return his award – unfortunately the cyclist was unsuccessful in his attempt to win gold in the men’s cycling road race.
Join OxStu Sport as we look back on a phenomenal year of sport with the BBC’s annual awards ceremony. This year’s gong is broadcast live from London’s ExCel centre which hosted Boxing, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Fencing, Judo, Wrestling and Weight Lifting at London 2012. Nicola Adams and Anthony Joshua were among the Team GB gold medal winners at the venue.
Matt Handley, Miles Dilworth, Ben Crome, Alex Tyndall, and Joe Mansour take a look at this year’s highlights and lowlights, heroes and villains, humorous diversions and unforgettable moments
Although we tried, we couldn’t avoid talking about the Olympics. Worries that London 2012 would be a G4S-induced mega-mare eventually subsided, as Seb Coe and his team managed to pull off what was, depending how you look at it, either an absolute triumph, or a self congratulatory, flag-waving circle jerk. What was doubtless though was the scale of the achievements of British athletes. ‘Super Saturday’ saw Jessica Ennis reign victorious in the heptathlon, spindly carrot-top Greg Rutherford take long jump gold, and Mo Farah earn the first of two middle-distance triumphs. Their Paralympian counterparts also achieved great things. Soundtracked by Public Enemy, Johnnie Peacock, David Weir and Ellie Simmonds became household names as ParalympicsGB romped to golden glory.
British Sport in 2012
However, not everything British sport had to offer went on in London this year.
First mention must go to Bradley Wiggins, who became the first Briton to win the Tour de France after a dominating performance by Team Sky, and the greater achievement of making it cool to have sideburns. Rory McIlroy (He counts, right?) continued his climb in the upper echelons of golf, winning the PGA championship and cementing his place as world No. 1. England’s footballers proved at Euro 2012 that it’d be more successful to field a team of toddlers than rely upon the current crop of players. Better footballing times were to be had at club level, with Chelsea winning the Champions League in May and someone other than Alex Ferguson being happy at the end of the Premier League season. Meanwhile, even after a summer in which he reached the Wimbledon final, cried after losing the Wimbledon final, won Olympic gold and the US open, Andy Murray still rocks himself to sleep listening to Elton John croon “What have I gotta do, to make you love me?. Probably.
Sport in 2012 has been more controversial than Old Man Bridge breaking the Magdalen Hall strike for a post-Bop brunch. Joey Barton said goodbye to the Premiership via a kick to Sergio Agüero’s arse, but the year in English football will be remembered as one engulfed by racist controversy. John Terry dodged a fine in the courts with a TOTALLY LEGITIMATE defence, only to be found guilty by the FA of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, at the culmination of a fiasco that earlier in the year saw Fabio Capello quit as England manager.
Meanwhile the Olympics and Paralympics passed off as incident-free as ever. Aside from North Korea being greeted with their southern neighbour’s anthem, match-throwing in the Badminton, a fencer refusing to leave the stage after disagreeing with a call, Oscar Pistorius blaming his failure to win gold on his opponent having blades which were too long, and more empty seats than a post-Park End lecture.
It was a big year on the “Cheating Bellend” front, with Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after being found to be behind one of the most elaborate doping schemes in history, whilst Frankie Dettori faces being consigned to sporting infamy after test- ing positive for banned substances. So, all-in-all, a bit of a quiet one.
If there is one thing that you cannot fault Brendan Rodgers for at the start of his reign at Liverpool, it is his bravery in bringing youngsters into the side. Raheem Sterling, apparently a miscreant at school, was once told that by the age of 17 he would either be in prison or playing for England. On November 14th, the latter prediction came to fruition and many more great things are expected of the diminutive winger. In cycling, the retirement of Victoria Pendleton left a void for a new icon to emerge and Laura Trott looks as if she has the potential to not only match but better the achievements of the former Queen of cycling. Her blistering pace and breathtaking win in the inaugural women’s omnium in London will live long in the memory. Another star who made his breakthrough at the games was Adam Gemili. From being loaned out from Dagenham & Redbridge to Thurrock, to winning the World Junior 100m title in a record of 10.05secs, to an Olympic semi-final all in the same year. Not a bad effort all in all.
While the performances of Sterling et al demonstrate that the flames of the youth are still burning, 2012 also saw the retirements of many sportspeople old enough to be Raheem’s kids’ grandparents. Some timed their retirements well, like Michael Phelps and Rahul Dravid, who departed still among the best in their sports, but other former stars did their fans a favour by calling an overdue end to declining careers: Michaels Ballack and Schumacher and Andy Roddick are examples. It is sad to see athletes give up their lifelong passions due to injury, and cricket will miss Mark Boucher (struck in the eye by a bail), and football Ledley King (long-term knee problems) and Fabrice Muamba, whose miraculous recovery from a cardiac arrest – as well as the public reaction to Muamba’s collapse at White Hart Lane – inspired a nation of football-lovers. And while normally the retirements of sporting officials are only newsworthy if they’ve been hounded out of the game by deranged fans, the Australian Simon Taufel, the best ever in his field, left cricket to universal accolades, with journalist Osman Samiuddin writing that “a Taufel mistake was defiance of the laws of science.” No such praise, we’d suggest, is in the offing for ex-England captain John Terry.
2012 was the year of the bizarre. In the Premier League, Blackburn’s tragicomedy of a season was summed up when a fan released a flag-draped chicken onto the pitch, and in Euro 2012 the sight of Mario Balotelli celebrating a goal by striking a terrifying statuesque pose was only beaten by his teammate shouldering his face when joining him. Rowan Atkinson’s appearance at the Olympic Opening Ceremony was comedy gold, but Chad le Clos’ dad Bert was to outshine all others, becoming an internet hit by combining the gravelly tones of Martin Jol with the sentimentality of an Oscar winner after his son’s swimming gold medal. Hearing that a Brit had won a tennis Grand Slam was also hilarious, until it turned out to be true, but the real comic hero of 2012 was without a doubt Paolo Di Canio. From aiming a kick at his own player at half-time, to substituting his goalkeeper after seventeen minutes because he was the “worst player I have ever seen in a football match”, to comparing scoring at Upton Park to having sex with Madonna, he only further enshrined his cult standing, as a bonkers, maverick, mercurial genius. What a guy.
Two major events happened in the world of disability this week: firstly, the Paralympic opening ceremony, and secondly, a protest by disabled people outside the Atos headquarters in central London, against the Work Capability Assessment. The first event was widely reported; the second had to wait for a proper treatment until Newsnight at 10.30pm. Needless to say, more people will see coverage of the former event than of the latter.
The Paralympics will last for two weeks, and will raise the profile of a group of elite athletes. They may change national or worldwide perceptions about disabled people, although a consensus forming behind that idea is notably lacking. The Work Capability Assessment is ongoing, and will last until the government has assessed every single person receiving incapacity benefits. In national terms, the second event is of far greater import than the first, profoundly changing the landscape of disability provision in Britain.
So far, 37% of the subjects of concluded Work Capability Assessment cases have been newly found fit to work. Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment, enlightened us with the following: “These first figures completely justify our decision to reassess all the people on incapacity benefits. To have such a high percentage who are fit for work just emphasises what a complete waste of human lives the current system has been.”
Grayling’s analysis rests upon a key assumption: that the figures are based upon fair and accurate tests. If indeed 37% of incapacity claimants were revealed to be scrounging or, alternatively, so stupid that they had been claiming the wrong benefit, then the government’s reassessment is indeed justified. Conversely, if it were true that, in fact, the Assessment is itself unfit for purpose, and that the figures revealed by it are therefore really very meaningless, then there is no justification whatsoever in the figures for the government’s policy of assessment.
Here is another figure: of those 37% of incapacity claimants found fit to work, 40% have won successful appeals. As an appeal can take up to a year to process, we may safely assume that more successful appeals are pending. If that wasn’t enough to prove that the Work Capability Assessment was deficient, then how about claims by disabled people that the tests are humiliating, arbitrary and sometimes baffling, with claimants being asked to pick objects up from the floor, asked how long they can concentrate on television for, or perhaps how long they can sit down? These questions are used to answer an eight page tick-box form, in comparison with the previous sixty page form with space for written answers. Three weeks later, many disabled people find themselves with a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions detailing the cuts to their benefit payments. Pauline Peters, a protester at Atos’ headquarters, said she personally knew seven people who had taken their own lives in the last eleven months due to the stress of reassessment.
The government says that it is reforming disability benefit. Despite changes to the names of payments to new, sexy titles such as the Personal Independence Payment, it is very clear that the priority of the Work Capability Assessment is not really ‘reform’, which implies progression, at all, but cost-cutting, which implies funding withdrawal and a deeply regressive willingness to sacrifice social justice to GDP.
The fraud rate of Employment Support Allowance stands at 0.3%, and the fraud rate of Incapacity Benefit at 0.5%. The government is spending £600m on the Work Capability Assessment. If the government was really looking to make efficient savings, might it not be better to close tax loopholes than sieve the disabled population through a – frankly stupid – tick-box test? The cost of the appeals process alone must be huge.
David Cameron, on the eve of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, said “I think we can be proud of the fact that we’ve been something of a trailblazer in Britain, passing equality legislation and disability legislation”. He is right. But with his fist wrapped around the end of the unravelling thread that is Britain’s commitment to a fair and progressive attitude to disability (and which had so much further to go!), he does not deserve to let such a sentence pass his lips.
With the London Olympic and Paralympic games right around the corner, time is running out for Oxonian athletes looking to compete on this hallowed stage. When he’s not penning his history essays, Christ Church second-year Daniel Hooker is out on the Iffley Road track in a bid to qualify for London 2012.
This summer we could be seeing Daniel represent Great Britain in the 100m, 200m or long jump in the Paralympic tournament. He has two limbs which are affected by cerebral palsy and although he played squash for his school team in sixth form, he realised that disabled sport would allow him to race at the highest level.
‘At 15 you realise, this game’s not fair,’ Daniel commented. ‘I’m the sort of person where I want to be the best at everything – I’m just competitive like that. Once I knew I was in a fair game I wanted to be the best.’
This motivation has driven him to within touching distance of the upcoming games. Daniel is well on top of his training and is close to reaching the qualification standards. He said, ‘In the gym where I have most of the numbers to look at I’m now where expected to be in maybe a month.
‘I haven’t had any injuries – I think I’ve only missed one training session so far which is obviously really positive.’
Daniel’s aim is to shave almost forty seconds off his 100m time and jump half a meter further – goals which are ‘not impossible’.
‘I definitely think I’m a contender for London,’ he argued. ‘I’ve got the B standards in 100m and the long jump – I’ll need the A at least but I’m in the ball park where its realistic to think that I could do it.’
He has already raced at Gateshead and Crystal Palace – Britain’s two premier athletics venues – and believes that competing in the Olympic Stadium would ‘be that times five.’
‘This is what you train for. You get your name up on the big screen, you get announced over the loudspeaker at the start,’ he added. ‘You feel like you’ve made it.’
Regardless of his improvements on the track, it’s likely Daniel will get a run out at the Stratford arena in the next few months. He admitted, ‘There’s a test event which I’ve been invited to, so I’m hoping that I’ll get the chance to see it before the big thing whatever happens with qualification.’
While London would be an incredible experience, it is the 2016 games in Rio which Daniel is targeting for medal success.
‘I’ve made a pact with myself that I’ll go through to Rio,’ he said. ‘I’ll be 24, I’ll be in my prime – if I haven’t won medals by then , it’s never really going to happen so I’ll move on in my life.’
Nevertheless he remained optimistic about his chances, adding, ‘Hopefully I’ll have just won a Paralympic title and I’ll be preparing to win another one!’
Although he believes there aren’t too many avenues to become wealthy in Paralympic sport, Daniel is keen to have a career in athletics. He said, ‘It won’t be very well paid and it’ll be until you’re 35 but I would love to do it – getting paid to jump into a sand pit every day sounds like a lot of fun!’
If the sporting side doesn’t work out for him, Daniel’s backup plan is to work as a lawyer or a civil servant. He hasn’t ruled out coaching either – he currently helps with the training of other athletes at Oxford.
Despite the stress of the degree, Daniel still maintains a good work-life balance. He enjoys his social life with his fellow competitors while keeping on top of his weekly deadlines. Above all however, it is his love of athletics which spurs him on. He professed, ‘I came into the athletics because it was the big Paralympic sport, but it’s just good fun jumping into a sand pit for a long way!’