England football team manager Gareth Southgate was awarded in the Coach of the Year category at BBC Sports Personality of the Year receiving British sport’s premier annual individual accolade in Birmingham on Sunday. Former England player Southgate led The Three Lions to their best finish at a World Cup since 1990 at the FIFA World Cup in Russia where England finished fourth. England were beaten 2-1 by Croatia in extra time and were then beaten in the third-fourth place playoff match against Belgium. In 1990, too, England had finished fourth.
Cyclist Geraint Thomas from Wales was voted as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year as a reward for his remarkable Tour de France triumph. Thomas’ victory in cycling’s most prestigious race was the sixth by a British rider in seven years which put him ahead of Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and England football team captain Harry Kane in the public vote. Thomas was the first Welshman to win the award since football player Ryan Giggs in 2009.
“I feel very lucky to have come into cycling when I did. I just went down to the local leisure centre for a swim and instead I rode my bike,” Thomas said.
Although he had previously been a double Olympic champion on the track, he had lived in the shadow of four-times Tour de France winner Chris Froome in Team Sky until beating his team mate and defending champion in the 2018 race.
“As a bike rider, I always focus on myself. Obviously, people want me to win, but hearing stories like Tyson (Fury)’s and Billy (Monger)’s, you realise that what we do does inspire people back home,” Thomas said.
Fury amazingly beat the count after being knocked down in his world heavyweight title draw with Deontay Wilder while youngster Monger made an uplifting comeback to motor racing after having his legs amputated following a Formula 4 crash.
The others short-listed for the award were triple European sprint champion Dina Asher-Smith, English cricket’s record Test wicket taker James Anderson and double Olympic skeleton champion, Lizzy Yarnold.
Thomas picked up a replica of the winner’s trophy from Tour de France organisers earlier on Sunday after the original was stolen from a cycling show.
England women’s netballers who took Commonwealth Games gold won team of the year. Italian golfer Francesco Molinari, star of Europe’s Ryder Cup win and British Open champion, was voted World Sport Star of the Year. Former tennis player and now official who heads the cause for women’s tennis Billie Jean King was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
BBC Sports Personality of the Year winners:
Athlete of the Year: Geraint Thomas (Cycling)
Team of the Year: England netball team
Coach of the Year: Gareth Southgate (England football team)
World Sport Star of the Year: Francesco Molinari (Golf)
Greatest Sporting Moment of the Year: England’s netball gold
Unsung Hero: Kirsty Ewen (swimming)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Billie Jean King (Tennis)
Helen Rollason Award: Billy Monger (Formula 3)
(With inputs from Reuters)