Ahead of BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday 20 December, we handed over each of the six SPotY nominees to the Gazette writer who’s best-placed to explain why their sporting achievements in 2020 make them worthy of nomination.
Jordan Henderson has no doubt had an exceptional 2020, captaining Liverpool FC to their first league title in 30 years. In the same season, the Liverpool veteran also led the side to a club record 99 point haul from a 38 game season in the Premier League.
Not only this, he also lifted the European Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, and won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year, narrowly beating Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
The Liverpool captain continued his year of honours by featuring in the Professional Footballers’ Association and European Sports Media Teams of the Year, and winning the Liverpool Fans’ Player of the Season award.
As one of the most senior players in this record breaking Liverpool side, Henderson has had the opportunity to mould himself into not just a player but a leader, a role-model and a consummate professional.
Despite the trials of 2020, he has found a way to maintain a consistent level of excellence and carve his own name into Liverpool folklore
Henderson is an outsider to win SPotY 2020, but the old cliche of being honoured to be nominated applies.
After all, only 21 footballers in 65 years have been nominated for the award and only five – Bobby Moore, Paul Gascoigne, Michael Owen, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs – have won.
Whilst no crowds attended the 2020 British flat season, one jockey was setting records and smashing the glass ceiling.
Her name is Hollie Doyle. The only female contender on the SPoTY shortlist and the third jockey to be nominated in the history of the award, the others being AP McCoy and Frankie Dettori.
One of the things that racing prides itself on is that both men and women compete on a level playing field.
The success that Doyle has experienced in 2020 has already seen her win Sportswoman of the Year from both the Sports Journalists Association and Sunday Times. She was also named Flat Jockey of the Year at the The Horserace Writers’ and Photographers’ Association awards.
In 2019 she broke Josephine Gordon’s record of having the most winners in a calendar year by a female jockey, with 116 to Gordon’s 106 from 2017.
On the Wednesday of Royal Ascot, she piloted 33/1 shot Scarlet Dragon to win the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes. Her first success at Group level came in July at Newmarket winning on Dame Malliot in the Princess of Wales Stakes, a Group Two contest.
But on August 29 she well and truly set the racing world alight, winning five races on the same card at Windsor. The odds of her winning those five races? 889-1.
Yet more success came at Ascot on British Champions Day, where she partnered Trueshan to win the Long Distance Cup. It was about to get better in the The British Champion Sprint Stakes, where she claimed her first Group One success aboard Glen Shiel.
Not only that, she smashed her own record she set the previous year of winners in a season, recording her 117th winner a few days before Champion’s Day.
She finished fourth in the Jockeys’ Championship, the highest ever position for a female jockey. This month saw Doyle become the first female jockey to win at Hong Kong’s International Jockey’s Championship aboard Harmony N Blessed.
Doyle’s 2020 has been about breaking records, and if she were to add the SPoTY 2020 crown to her long list of awards, it would be seismic for racing.
• Part One, Monday 14 December: Hermione Hatfield on Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and Nakul Pande on England men’s fast bowler Stuart Broad
• Part Three, Friday 18 December: Abdallah Abukhattab on boxing’s World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury and Xander Chevallier on snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan