The early contenders for BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Awards Tuesday May 14, 2024 By: Harry Howes

There’s still a lot of sport to be played between now and December, but we’re getting in early to take a look at the early contenders for this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

The Lionesses have dominated the award in recent years, with Mary Earps claiming the gong in 2023, a year after England teammate Beth Mead was crowned the winner. This year, the men will be hoping to follow in their footsteps as they target a first trophy since 1966 at Euro 2024 in Germany.

As well as the EUROs, we’ve got the Olympics in Paris to look forward to, as well as plenty of exciting action across darts, cycling, boxing and more. Here’s who we think could be in with a chance of winning SPOTY in 2024.

Luke Littler

Only once in SPOTY history has a darts player been honoured, with Phil Taylor coming second to Tony McCoy in 2010. But there’s every chance we’ll have our first oche champion this year, with Littler the early favourite for the award.

Aged just 16 at the time, Littler stormed his way to the PDC World Darts Championship final, beating former world champions Christian Kist, Raymond van Barneveld and Rob Cross along the way.

He ultimately fell at the final hurdle as he was beaten by world number one Luke Humphries but his incredible rise has made him one of the most talked about sports stars of the year so far. His performances saw him picked for the 2024 Premier League Darts and he continues to shine as he looks to go one better and become the youngest ever world champion at the end of the year.

Russ Cook

While the award is generally reserved for professionals or Olympians, few could argue that Russ Cook’s achievements should go unnoticed. Otherwise known as the ‘Hardest Geezer’, Cook spent almost a year stomping across tarmac, through jungles and deserts, and overcoming life-threatening situations to become the first ever person to run the entire length of Africa.

The 27-year-old ran through 16 countries, starting in South Africa and crossing the finish line at the northern tip of Tunisia. He ran almost 10,000 miles, completing the equivalent of around 380 marathons in 352 days, while raising more than £1 million for charity. While it’s unlikely that Cook will be given the top gong, there’s every chance that his remarkable achievement will be honoured in some way at the event, which will be thoroughly deserved.

Jude Bellingham

Two of England’s finest footballers are both enjoying remarkable seasons on the continent and with the EUROs taking place this summer, success for England will likely see plenty of the squad in contention for the award.

If England are to do well, Bellingham and Harry Kane will inevitably be involved and it will cap off phenomenal seasons for both. Kane left Tottenham last summer and has enjoyed a fine first campaign at Bayern Munich, scoring 44 goals in all competitions.

Meanwhile, Bellingham’s debut season at Real Madrid has seen him net 22 goals to help his side win the La Liga title. The English duo met in the Champions League semi-finals, with Bellingham’s Madrid side coming out on top, which likely puts the midfielder ahead in the queue. Should Real go on to win the final against Borussia Dortmund, a strong England showing at the EUROs would go a long way to helping his SPOTY cause.

Olympic heroes

The Olympics heads to Paris this summer and there are plenty of Team GB hopefuls looking to make themselves a hero. Gold medalists tend to dominate the SPOTY award, with the likes of Andy Murray, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, Kelly Holmes and Steve Redgrave all winning it in Olympic years this century.

That could well happen again, with plenty of contenders. Katarina Johnson-Thompson is targeting gold in the heptathlon after coming out on top in last year’s World Championships. She finished third in SPOTY last year and is targeting her first Olympic medal in what will be her fourth games.

Meanwhile, swimmer Adam Peaty is expected to make a splash in the pool again after two golds and a silver in Tokyo three years ago that saw him also claim third in SPOTY. Keely Hodgkinson is targeting gold after securing silver in the 800 metres three years ago.

Elsewhere, Max Whitlock is looking to go out on a high. The gymnast is set to retire after the Paris Olympics and he’ll be desperate to add to his medal collection, having already claimed three golds and three bronzes across the previous three Olympics.

Mark Cavendish

Cycling superstar Cavendish was set to retire last year but after crashing out of the Tour de France, he’s back in pursuit of making history. The 38-year-old has won 34 Tour de France stages, the joint-highest of all time alongside Eddy Merckx.

Cavendish was hoping to clinch the record last year but he was forced to pull out after crashing during stage eight and breaking his collarbone. With the 111th Tour de France set to start in June, Cavendish will be a strong contender for SPOTY if he can win a stage to become the undisputed leader.

Other Contenders

Following Manchester City’s historic treble win, there’s every chance one of their many stars could make a claim for the award. And following a resurgence over the last few seasons, few could deny that John Stones is deserving of recognition.

Elsewhere, the likes of Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Lewis Hamilton could come into the thinking if they end the year strongly. Plus, with the Rugby World Cup set to take place later this year, a strong tournament from England as mentioned, or even Wales or Scotland may see a contender or two emerge from their squads.

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