Forget Murray, Froome Dog all the way to Sports Personality

Christopher_Froome_TDF2012CHRIS Froome has to win Sports Personality of the Year for 2013. Andy Murray will win it. Froome will not. That doesn’t mean the millions of phone voters and text voters and Twitter voters are correct.

It was a fantastic achievement to defeat Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-4 7-5 in straight sets in temperatures that were beyond 50 degrees celsius. To be the first Wimbledon Men’s Singles Champion for 77 years is something the humble hard-working Scotsman from Dunblane will dine out on for the rest of his life. He deserves it, and when (not if) he becomes the BBC Sports Personality of the Year  on 15th December 2013, I will applaud as much as the next man. All sports fans young and old should understand that Murray deserves to be where he is in his sport because of the weeks spent in Miami in a punishing winter training camp; Murray deserves the praise, but not the prize. Froome deserves the award for what it would represent.

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year in the past has been used as a collective award to congratulate those who have reached the pinnacle of their sport. Chris Hoy won it in 2008 by winning three golds at the Beijing Olympics. Sir Steve Redgrave won it in 2000 after winning Olympic Gold in the best example of what the Summer Olympic Games is supposed to represent in Sydney, whilst battling with debilitating Type 2 Diabetes. AP McCoy won it in 2010 after winning the Grand National at the sixteenth attempt in spite of passing the 3000 winner mark more than a year previously. Mark Cavendish won it in 2011 after winning the Green Points Jersey for the first time as well as the breathless World Champion Road Race in Copenhagen in the same year, when it really was all or nothing. Bradley Wiggins is the encumbent after a fairytale Tour de France victory followed by an Olympic Gold Medal along The Mall. Murray’s Wimbledon win was positive for British Tennis, but to describe it as the pinnacle of his sport is to miss the point.

To give Murray the honour of BBC Sports Personality of the year would be very disrespectful to the two men in the last decade who have redefined the meaning of “world-class” tennis player. Roger Federer has won 17 major titles, is tied with the all-time Wimbledon record of American Pete Sampras. Rafael Nadal’s late summer/autumn of 2013 has been the epitomy of fairytale. The flamboyant Spaniard went more than 30 games unbeaten in the hard-court season as he emphatically returned to the top of the world game, made even more miraculous by the fact that this time he could hardly walk because of a debilitating knee injury. His demolition of David Ferrer in his annual coronation at Roland Garros for his eighth title at clay in the French Capital was predatorial in its swift grace. The Swiss and Mallorcan are the modern-day Bjorg and Mcenroe, the Jekyl to Federer’s Hyde, perfectly matched as tennissing friends and foes. The 2008 Final at The Old England Tennis Club was a five-hour masterclass. Old Boxing Commentators and writers used to say that Ali and Frazier were never at the peak at the same time, but there respective downward spirals interjected at the exact same point. Take Federer and Nadal, with injuries and Federer’s extended period of brilliance, it can be convincingly argued that Nadal and Federer peaked at the right time.

Murray is yet to even be at the level where he can tie Federer or Nadal’s shoe-laces. Federer has won every-grand slam and Nadal won two-grand slams in the same season that Murray is being lauded for winning Wimbledon on a day when the then World Number 1 was not at the races. It is not false praise to give Murray to prestigious accolade of Sports Personality of The Year Award-when you analyse the achievement as a single event-however when other sportsman have been punished (punishment is the right noun) for not reaching the pinnacle in their own arena before being given the award. Gareth Edwards never won the award in 1974 although he had just captained The British and Irish Lions to a series victory in South Africa and a Five Nations Championship the year before. Go figure.

And so we come to the Kenyan-born British Cyclist called Chris Froome. He grew up and was educated in Nairobi to a single mother, riding with his coach and mentor David Kinjah on a mountain bike. A late-bloomer of road-cycling that is for sure. He is far from the traditional sporting hero in the Superman mould with the accompanying infallibility and hollywood smile. Ungainly, awkward and resolute. You’ll never read about his fiancee on the front page of the Daily Sport. His weakness is to drive in his recently bought Bugatti Veyron. A weakness he only indulged with the memories of the yellow jersey glistening in the Parisien twilight fresh in the mind. The accumulation of minor gains is how British Cycling’s aficionado David Brailsford describes it. Minor gains, major prizes.

The Tour de France is the greatest sporting event on the planet. History, Tradition, Passion. It embodies everything great about an entire nation and is annual, so we only have to wait 12 months to bask in the Gallic July Sunlight. Like a heavenly morphine drip, curing us of the fallibility of Premier League Footballers that habitually betray our trust as sports lovers. It is a three-week passport to immortality. You have to win by going beyond the limits you thought were possible, climbing 1912m above sea level on Mont Ventoux and conquering the mountain range that even Alexander the Great could not in Alpe d’Huez.

Froome did not just win the Tour de France. As soon as he got through the trecherous traditionally crash-ridden week, it was never in doubt. He came second behind the time-trialist extraordinaire Tony Martin in the first test against the clock to Mont-Sant Michel having already won on top of Ax-3 Domaines in the 195km Stage 8. The Maillot Jeune was his. Tour Over. The Bookmakers could have paid out then. His finest hour was yet to come.

On the morning of The Mont Ventoux stage. The quintessential Tour stage. Froome texts David Kinjah “I hope you and the boys will be with me today”. Kinjah replies “Yes, today God will send his Angels, and you will ride on their wings.FLY AWAY BABY”. Froome Dog needed no Red Bull on Sunday July 14th 2013. FROOME CONQUERS VENTOUX. He was already in Yellow, therefore following in the footsteps of Merckx, but that was not enough. He now held the Polka Dot Jersey for King of the Mountains simultaneously. If the French Press, embittered by the national disgrace of the chasm of no French Vainquer since Hinault in 85, believed Froome was juiced, they were emphatically rebuffed by the erudite French speaker.

The winning margin of 4’20 from the Movistar metronome and future Tour Winner Nairo Quintana was as impressive as it was classy. Rather than crossing the line on his own, he hung back to drink in the sweet nectar of victory with his teammates, never forgetting that it is with these hardy souls that he’ll split his €350,000 cheque. Samuel Eto’o earned that a week at Anzhi. Let that sink for a while.

Murray will win, because Cycling is still a minority sport, although the success of British Cycling and Sky ProCycling has been unprecedented. Congratulations Andy on a great year. Congratulations Chris Froome for a year of perfection in your chosen sport. This really and truly is a yellow jersey that will stand the test of time. The perfect poster boy for those hardy souls ominously peddling on omerta.

“Oh, I’d give anything just to see her smile with me coming into Paris,” – Chris Froome on his mother who died in 2008.