Stars vie for BBC sports crown

Andover Advertiser: Jessica Ennis arrives for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London Jessica Ennis arrives for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London

Britain's top sport stars have gathered to celebrate their greatest ever year at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year awards, with the Duchess of Cambridge set to present the main prize after recovering from illness.

Olympic and Paralympic heroes dominate this year's shortlist, with golfer Rory McIlroy the only one of the 12 nominees not to have won medals at London 2012 this summer. Cyclist Bradley Wiggins is the bookmakers' odds-on favourite after his historic triumph in the Tour de France and gold in the Olympics time trial, followed by heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis.

Mo Farah, double gold medallist in the 5,000 metres and 10,000m, is ranked third favourite with the bookies, just ahead of Andy Murray, who became the first British man to win a grand slam singles title for 76 years when he triumphed in the US Open and won an Olympic gold.

The list of nominees has been extended from 10 to 12 this year to reflect the incredible year for British sport. It was the Duchess' first public appearance since leaving hospital for severe pregnancy sickness when she presents the main award and lifetime achievement honour to Lord Sebastian Coe.

The first award of the night went to swimmer Josef Craig, 15, who was crowned Young Sports Personality of the Year. Josef, who has cerebral palsy, was crowned the youngest Paralympic gold medallist at London 2012, after smashing his own world record in the 400m freestyle S7 final. "I would just like to say big thanks to everyone involved in me getting my gold," the South Shields teenager said. "It was a big shock for me. I don't expect it at all. That was just an amazing part of my life."

Martine Wright, who lost her legs in the London bombings on July 7, 2005, and competed in the sitting volleyball at the 2012 Paralympics, won the Helen Rollason Award. This is presented in memory of the BBC presenter who died in 1999 at the age of 43 after suffering from cancer, and is given for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity.

Sports enthusiasts Sue and Jim Houghton have won the Unsung Hero Award for helping to transform a derelict sports ground into a popular community facility. The husband and wife team have devoted 25 years to establishing Sport in Desford, a leisure complex in the Leicestershire village with tennis and squash courts, a football pitch, bowling green and dance studio. The facility has hundreds of users each week.

The Team of the Year award went to Team GB and Paralympics GB for their successes in the Games during the summer. It was presented by the first sub four minute miler, Sir Roger Bannister, to cyclist Victoria Pendleton, who said: "It is a once in a lifetime experience, it was an incredible atmosphere."

Coach of the Year went to Dave Brailsford, who trains Wiggins. He said: "It's a huge privilege to get this award, this year of all years, with such a fantastic summer of sport. I'm the lucky one who gets to come up and collect the award, but behind me, I've got a fantastic team - and we are only ever as good as our riders."

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who retained his Olympic gold medals in the 100m and 200m before steering his nation home to set a new world record to win the 4x100m, was named Overseas Sports Personality of the Year. Accepting his trophy via videolink, he praised the London games and thanked his fans. "It was a great Olympics, it was great here, it really worked out", he said. "It is an honour to get this award. I will keep staying focused to make everybody and my fans and myself proud."

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