Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2018 at the annual awards ceremony in Birmingham. The victory came after an incredible 12 months for the 32-year-old, who is the first Welshman since Ryan Giggs in 2009 to take the title. Formula 1’s Lewis Hamilton finished second, with footballer Harry Kane in third. Several other awards were given out across a range of sports, including the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ and ‘Coach of the Year.’
In what was a tight contest, Thomas beat off five other incredible sports stars. 2018 began in quite a frustrating manner for the Team Sky rider, finishing third at the Volta ao Algarve and the Tirrendo-Adriatico. He then had to drop out of the iconic Paris-Roubaix race in April, after crashing very early on in the event. Thomas was the leader of Team Sky at the Criterium du Dauphine in June, which is seen as the main race in the build-up to the Tour de France. He crashed on Stage 1, losing time to his rivals. However, he was able to turn things around to take the overall win at the end of the week. July saw World Cycling’s golden event, the Tour de France. Chris Froome (the pre-race favourite and Thomas’ teammate) crashed on the opening stage, putting Thomas slightly ahead. On Stage 11 in the Alps, Thomas attacked away from his rivals to take the stage win. A day later, he won on the iconic Alpe d’Huez, outsprinting his teammate Chris Froome. This earnt him the satisfying role of being the first British rider ever to win one of cycling’s most famous stages. Thomas held on until Paris, where he rode down the Champs-Elysees wearing the iconic yellow jersey. On his return to Wales, he was greeted by thousands of adoring fans, hopefully inspiring a generation of new young cyclists. After spending years as a true team player in Team Sky, supporting Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, Thomas is a worthy winner of this famous award.
Lewis Hamilton was seen as the favourite to win the award, not surprising given his fantastic year. The Mercedes driver won his fifth World Championships and did so in quite some style. Some of the statistics offer a great perspective on just how good he is. Only Michael Schumacher (91) has more Formula 1 wins than Hamilton’s 73. The British driver also has more pole positions than any other driver in the history of the sport, more career points, the most front row starts, and the most podium finishes in a season with an incredible 17. His 2018 took a while to get going, finishing second, third and fourth in the opening three races. However, he went on to win the Azerbaijan, Spanish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Singapore, Russian, Japanese, Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Quite a season from the 32-year-old, and a worthy runner-up in this year’s competition.
Harry Kane’s golden-boot award from the summer’s World Cup in Russia earnt him a place on the shortlist. The first English player to win the award since Gary Lineker, Kane scored six goals as he guided England to the semi-finals, where they suffered a heart-breaking defeat to Croatia. His pivotal performances for the national team didn’t stop there though. The Spurs hero assisted Jesse Lingard and got the winning goal last month against Croatia, which put England through to the Nations League Finals in Portugal next summer. On top of this, Kane has continued to tear apart defences in the Premier League. In February, he scored his 100th Premier League goal after just 141 games. Only Alan Shearer holds a better record, getting to 100 top-flight goals in 100 games. The 25-year-old also made the PFA Team of the Year for the 4th successive season. Certainly, a worthy nominee.
Dina Asher-Smith is just 22-years old but has already ran herself into the record books several times. Her potential has been there for everybody to see for some time, but she has really proven herself in 2018. The youngster picked up two medals at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, taking a bronze in the 200m and winning golf in the 4x100m Relay. She surpassed many pundits’ expectations in Berlin at the European Championships, winning not only the 100m, but the 200m and the 4x100m Relay as well. With the World Championships taking place next year in Qatar, fans will be looking to Asher-Smith to hopefully deliver some medals.
Lizzy Yarnold was always going to struggle, given Skeleton is not a particularly popular or accessible sport. But, her successes this year absolutely warranted a place in the final six. After winning the gold medal at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, she has had a rollercoaster of a four years. Yarnold missed the 2015-16 Skeleton season due to burnout but returned the following season to take bronze at the World Championships. In September 2017, the 30-year-old was diagnosed with a vestibular disorder, which impacted her inner ear. The 2017-18 season looked to be one of disappointment, but she surprised almost everyone to defend her Olympic title in Pyongchang in February. Her fourth and final run broke the track record, earning her the gold medal by quite some distance. Yarnold announced her retirement in October this year following more health problems with a knee operation and severe back problems. She is now a mentor to aspiring young athletes.
James Anderson’s selection surprised some cricket fans, who perhaps saw Alistair Cook as a more deserving choice, following his retirement from international cricket in September. However, Anderson has had a far from mediocre year. In the final match with India in the summer, he took his 564th test wicket, therefore overtaking Glenn McGrath to become the leading wicket taker amongst fast bowlers. At 36 years of age, he doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. With a huge 2019 and the Ashes coming to home soil, hopefully Anderson can continue to impress and help win back the old earn.
The Hellen Rollasan Award is in honour of the former BBC Sports Presenter who tragically died of cancer. It was given to Billy Monger, the young racing driver who lost his legs in an enormous crash at Donnington Park two years ago. Billy’s determination to get back racing within a year, and his down to earth character make him a very deserving winner of the prize. The Unsung Hero was awarded to Kirsty Ewan, for her commitment to swimming in the Scottish Highlands region.
England football manager Gareth Southgate was awarded Coach of the Year. Under his leadership, the national team got to their first semi-final at a World Cup since Italy in 1990. But, more importantly, he helped generations fall back in love with a team which had brought them nothing but disappointment for so long.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Billie Jean King. Not only did she win a staggering 39 Grand Slam Titles and defeat Bobby Riggs in the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ game, she also made admirable strides forward in gender equality within sport. At 75 years old, she continues to be an inspirational figure in sport.
Golf’s Francesco Molinari won the’ World Sports Star of the Year’ title, beating off gymnast Simone Biles, boxer Aleksandr Ulysk and Czech skier/snowboarder Ester Ledecka. Molinari won the Open this year and was vital in Europe’s victory over the USA in the Ryder Cup.
The England Netball Team won both ‘Team of the Year’ and ‘Sports Moment of the Year.’ This followed an incredible Commonwealth Games Gold Medal, which they won in the last second against hosts Australia.