Andy Murray was duly crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year in Leeds on Sunday night, capping an historic year which saw him become the first British man in 76 years to win the Wimbledon singles title.
Murray had started the evening as one of the shortest-price favourites in the award’s 60-year history, with best odds of 1/19 available from online bookmakers on the night of the ceremony at the city’s First Direct Arena.
Murray is the fourth tennis player to win the award and the first since Greg Rusedski pipped Tim Henman to victory in 1997. Virginia Wade and Ann Jones were also crowned in 1977 and 1969 respectively.
The 26-year-old Scot was not able to receive his award in person due to pre-season training commitments in Florida, and instead received it live on air from 18-times grand slam singles champion Martina Navratilova.
Murray joked: “I know I’m sometimes not the easiest person to support but I’ve had a lot of pressure on me for a long time and I’m just glad I finally managed to break through.
“No matter how excited I try to sound my voice still sounds incredibly boring but I’m actually incredibly excited right now. That’s just my voice – I’m sorry.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there tonight but I couldn’t have got in the position I’m in if I didn’t take my training and preparation extremely hard – I’ve been doing it for the last five or six years and I’ve dedicated probably the last 10 years of my life to this.”
Wales and British and Irish Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny took second place after a year in which he was crowned player of the series in the Lions’ history-making Test series triumph over Australia, with 2010 winner Tony McCoy in third place.
There were further rewards for the Lions who carried off the Team of the Year award while Warren Gatland was crowned Coach of the Year.
Gatland galvanised the Lions to their record-breaking 41-16 win in the third and final Test in Sydney after making the brave decision to drop influential Irishman Brian O’Driscoll.
Lions captain Sam Warburton said: “It’s not just the 15 guys who take the field in the first or second or third Test, we have a backroom staff of 35 or 40 people, and there are 70 or 80 of us all working towards the same goal, so it’s fantastic we could achieve it.”
Sebastian Vettel succeeded Usain Bolt as Overseas Sports Personality of the Year after a history-making season which saw him claim his fourth consecutive Formula One world title.
Vettel equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 race wins in a single season and also matched Alberto Ascari’s mark of nine consecutive grand prix wins.
Skeet shooter Amber Hill was crowned Young Sports Personality of the Year after a year which saw her crowned the youngest World Cup winner in her sport’s history.
Hill was just 15 years old when she made history and she went on to finish the season as the world number five, as well as equalling the senior world record in the qualifying round of the World Championships in Peru.
Hill was chosen from a shortlist of three, also including golfer Charley Hull and athlete Dina Asher-Smith. Last year’s winner was swimmer Josef Craig who became Britain’s youngest gold medallist at the 2012 Paralympics.
To mark the programme’s 60th year, Sir Bobby Charlton presented a special Diamond Achievement award to Sir Alex Ferguson, who called time on his 26 years in charge of Manchester United this summer.
Ferguson paid tribute to Charlton, saying: “Sir Bobby is one of the reasons that I existed as long as I did in the early days at Manchester United because he believed in the direction we were taking in terms of producing the young players again.
“I’ve had a great life, a great career and I’m still busy, I’ve not gone away, but I picked the right time – 27 years in this industry is very, very difficult and I’m enjoying my retirement.”
Former Liverpool captain Alan Hansen presented the Helen Rollason Award posthumously to the late Anne Williams, for her tireless campaigning for a new inquest for her son Kevin and other victims of the Hillsborough disaster.
The Unsung Hero award was presented to Joe and Maggie Forber for their work with young basketball players at the Amaechi Basketball Centre in Manchester.