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Murray retains SPOTY title but British sport is the real winner

So Andy Murray has added yet another accolade to his sporting résumé - a historic third (SPOTY title. And after a wonderful 2016 in which he conquered the world of tennis, who could begrudge him?

The men's tennis world number one, now a double Olympic and Wimbledon champion, is at the very pinnacle of his powers - one of a number of truly world-class British sportsmen in a golden era. To be named SPOTY is a career-defining moment for any athlete, but to do it three times - and retain the title - is something extra-special. He deserves all the plaudits he gets.

Yet Murray's own comments in his acceptance speech perfectly illustrate the challenge faced by panellists and voters in picking a winner in 2016. "It's been a great year for British sport and I am so proud to have been a part of it," the winner declared, alluding to the unprecedented strength of the field. How can anyone really compare the respective achievements of so many heroic figures across such a wide range of sports?

The fact that Jason and Laura Kenny, who collectively claimed five gold medals at Rio, didn't even make the podium speaks volumes. There was no room for Mo Farah either, despite his incredible double defence of the 5,000m and 10,000m titles, or for Max Whitlock, who ripped up the rule book en route to his gymnastics brace. But this was a year when Tour de France winner Chris Froome and a resurgent Mark Cavendish couldn't even muster a nomination.

When it came to determining the podium places, competitive results only formed part of the picture. The selection of triathlete Alistair Brownlee and equestrian Nick Skelton in second and third place showed the value voters place on other qualities, including sportsmanship, commitment and endeavour. In the eyes of the nation, these were important differentiators - perhaps quite rightly in a 'Personality' contest.

The sight of Alistair Brownlee - already a sporting legend in his own right - helping his stricken brother Jonny over the finish line in the final race of the 2016 World Series was one of the most touching moments in sport for many a year. Similarly, was there a more heart-warming story to emerge from Rio than 58-year-old Nick Skelton - who once retired from the sport after breaking his neck - winning show jumping gold in his seventh Olympic Games?

The other SPOTY awards on the night went to equally worthy recipients, with Claudio Ranieri and his miracle-working Leicester City side rightly honoured for their achievements in the 2015-16 season. In any other year, the Team award may have gone to the GB women's hockey side, or the collective Olympic and Paralympic squads, or perhaps even the Wales football team. But this was no ordinary year.

In a broader sense, 2016 has had its ups and downs. But in the world of British sport, it has been a year to savour. Once again we've been spoilt with success, with one glorious spectacle leading into the next. In a fortnight's time it will all get started again, with another 12 months of sport to look forward to.

Here at Sportsworld, we can't wait to see what 2017 delivers. A successful defence? A first victory for Andy Murray? Perhaps even a British challenge in the America's Cup? As ever, we'll be offering hospitality packages for all the major fixtures and events. To enquire about a booking, call us today on 0208 971 2966.

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