If Chrissie Wellington Is Not in the Running..?

Another controversial week draws to an end, and the hot topic of conversation is the omission of women in the BBC’s shortlist for Sports’ Personality of the Year.

Personally I am of the opinion that athletes should be judged for the award primarily on sporting achievement, supplementing that with a contribution to sport in general and finally within areas outside sport, after all it is Sports Personality, not Sportsman of the year.

10km Open Water World Champion Keri-Anne Payne disagrees: “Are they voting for the people who are most popular? Or who has achieved the most in their sport this year? The line is fuzzy.” Certainly a valid point, but I wonder whether the medal she achieved for that incredible feat in Shanghai (below) is enough recognition for being the best in her field. How much work in the community has he done compared to a candidate such as Amir Kahn?

Above all, the award should be based on merit, and who more deserving than Britain’s outstanding triathlete Chrissie Wellington. Other than Darts’ Phil Taylor, I would be surprised if there was a Brit higher up in their respective field, and guess what…she has a personality too.

I feel like it is always important to start here, there are plenty of sporting personalities, but a joker or maverick’s appeal is somewhat diminished if they are underperforming. Wellington’s record is incredible, she has been crowned World Iron Man champion four of the last five years and has shattered numerous records along the way. In this summer’s Challenge Roth (below), Chrissie broke her own record by exactly a minute and would have placed 5th in the mens race with a time of eight hours, 18 minutes and 13 seconds.

In my opinion the men shouldn’t be used as the benchmark for her achievements, they are remarkable enough on their own, but it is difficult when every article available on the race mentions that fact, and, it was the omission of women from the BBC’s shortlist that sparked the debate in the first place.

Wellington herself is a fantastic character. A recent piece in The Guardian saw Wellington stand oiled-up in front of university students for a photo shoot. This was not a Sepp Blatter-esque drive to make womens sport sexy, but as a celebration of her body, the vehicle that has taken her to the absolute pinnacle of her sport. Something that Wellington speaks proudly of: “”I love my body…I am more than content with it. I take a holistic view and see it not just as the contours of my skin but as the muscles, sinews, bones and everything else. This body has taken me to heights that I never imagined.”

She hails from East Anglia and after graduating from Birmingham University in 2001, she decided to lose some post-travelling weight by running which was going swimmingly (sorry!), until she was knocked down by a bus on the way to work.

Although this is not encouraged, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise: Whilst ‘rehabbing’ in a swimming pool, she was spotted by a coach and encouraged to turn her hand to Triathlon, and the rest his history.

Whether you agree that the omission of women from the BBC’s was justified or not, it is undeniable that the criticism of their own voting system has not avoided a PR disaster. The system which includes ‘Men only’ mags Zoo and Nuts has to be flawed but are the BBC capable of fiddling the results?

Blue Peter-gate suggests they could, and probably should have…