Sunday 25 February 2018

Andy Murray wins two Sports Personality of the Year gongs in Belfast

Andy Murray won the Sports Personality of the Year award for the second time
Andy Murray won the Sports Personality of the Year award for the second time

Andy Murray was rewarded for steering Great Britain to its first Davis Cup triumph in 79 years with a double success at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards at the SSE Arena in Belfast on Sunday.

Murray picked up the main crown for the second time in three years and the Team of the Year award along with the team-mates who helped fashion their historic triumph over Belgium in Ghent last month.

Murray polled 361,446 votes, placing him ahead of former Leeds Rhinos star Kevin Sinfield, who came second with 278,353 after a sustained and ultimately successful campaign by the rugby league community.

Together, Murray and Sinfield polled almost two thirds of the 1,009,498 registered votes, with Jessica Ennis-Hill placing third with 79,898 votes and controversial boxer Tyson Fury finishing fourth.

Fury's failure to reach the top three will have come as a relief to the BBC, which defied a campaign calling on the world heavyweight champion to be excluded from the shortlist over his controversial opinions on homosexuals and women.

Fury was faced with a small but vocal protest from equal rights campaigners outside the venue but received a reasonable reception as he attempted to explain his comments in a brief set-piece interview with host Gary Lineker.

"I've said a lot of stuff in the past and none of it with intentions to hurt anybody," Fury said.

"It's all very tongue-in-cheek, it's all fun and games to me. I'm not a very serious kind of person - it's all very happy-go-lucky with Tyson Fury.

"If I've said anything in the past that's hurt anybody, I apologise."

Murray insisted he was surprised to win the award for the second time and praised the achievements of his shortlisted rivals, including Fury and Ennis-Hill.

"I didn't expect to win because there have been so many great performances this year," he said.

"I am a big boxing fan. I know what Tyson Fury did, it was an incredible achievement.

"What Jess Ennis did, winning a World Championship gold medal, is an extremely difficult thing to do.

"To do it so soon after becoming a mother - I'll never be able to know what that is like but I can imagine the amount of hard work and dedication that goes into that, and sacrifices as well must be great."

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill was a popular winner of the Coach of the Year award after leading his nation to the Euro 2016 finals.

O'Neill said: "Two years ago we were not in a great place and it would have been easier for me to walk away and for the association to go with someone else, but we stuck together and we are where we are today."

Jockey AP McCoy received the Lifetime Achievement Award after bringing his illustrious career to a close in April.

McCoy - who won the main Sports Personality prize in 2010 - retired after riding 4,357 winners and being crowned Champion Jockey 20 consecutive times.

After receiving the award from fellow Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, McCoy said: "Could I just say what an honour and a privilege it is to receive such a prestigious award, especially here in Belfast.

"Being from Northern Ireland, a place that has produced so many talented and successful sports people... it makes tonight even more special.

"Racing is a wonderful sport. I was lucky to live my life as a jockey through it and for that I will be for ever grateful."

Former All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter paid an emotional tribute to Jonah Lomu after picking up the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award.

The 33-year-old Carter ended his international career by leading New Zealand to World Cup glory in England in the summer.

But the victory was overshadowed by the death of Lomu - who won the same award in 1995 - in November.

"He is an absolute legend of the sport and it was a shock to the people who knew him and the sporting community," Carter said.

"He changed the sport forever. I was lucky enough to get to know him - he was such a caring and thoughtful guy and he will be missed by everyone."

Ellie Downie became the second consecutive gymnast to carry off the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award after winning bronze medals at both the European and World Championships this year.

Eight-year-old Bailey Matthews, who has cerebral palsy, was the recipient of the Helen Rollason Award after completing a junior triathlon in June, while Damien Lindsay won the BBC Sport Unsung Hero award for his football and community work in Belfast.

List of winners: Sports Personality: 1. Andy Murray, 2 Kevin Sinfield, 3. Jessica Ennis-Hill; Coach of the Year: Michael O'Neill; Team of the Year: Great Britain Davis Cup; Overseas Personality: Dan Carter; Young Personality; Ellie Downie; Helen Rollason Award: Bailey Matthews; Lifetime achievement: AP McCoy.

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