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General: Beth Mead and Jake Wightman amongst SPOTY favourites

The World Athletics Championships has shaken up the Sports Personality of the Year market, with Jake Wightman the new second favourite.

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The Nottinghamshire runner was Great Britain’s only gold medallist at the World Championships, and Great Britain’s first 1500m world champion since Seb Coe in 1984.

It’s seen the 28-year-old cut to 15/2, ahead of fellow Team GB athlete Keely Hodgkinson, who's 33/1 after her 800m silver medal.

Ronnie O’Sullivan remains 10/3 favourite after his record-equalling seven world title, beating Judd Trump in the final in May.

O’Sullivan had notably never even received a nomination until 2020, after winning a sixth world title, surpassing Stephen Hendry’s 36 ranking titles.

But ‘The Rocket’ finished behind jockey Hollie Doyle, who became the first female to ride five winners on the same British card with a 899/1 quintuple, as well as landing a 33/1 Royal Ascot winner, Jordan Henderson, who captained Liverpool to a first Premier League title, and Lewis Hamilton, who equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World Drivers’ Championships, as well as surpassing his number of Grand Prix wins.

It’s unlikely we’ll see Hamilton nominated again this year following Mercedes’ struggles throughout the season, with the two-time SPOTY winner 66/1 to win for a third time.

England’s Beth Mead is into 6/1 following her Euro 2022 exploits that have seen her top the tournament’s scoring charts with five goals as the Lionesses have reached the semi-finals. Another goal or two in the semi-final (and, fingers crossed, final), will surely see her shorten further.

Harry Kane is the 10/1 fourth favourite, and in an ordinary World Cup year, would surely be in the running, but the winter World Cup may scupper his chances. A date hasn’t been confirmed for this year’s Sports Personality of the Year, but to have any chance, it will likely need to be after the World Cup.

Tyson Fury is 12/1 after his world title fight win over Dillian Whyte, but after his nomination in 2020, urged the BBC to remove him from the voting, and then urged his fans not to vote for him. He was nominated again in 2021 after wrapping up the trilogy with Deontay Wilder, but having failed to win it then, his chances seem slimmer this time, even after announcing his retirement.

Of course, should he go back on his word and set up a blockbuster fight with Anthony Joshua before the year is out, that could all change.

Matthew Fitzpatrick is 20/1 after triumphing at Brookline in June, becoming the second English golfer since 1970 to win the US Open. Golfers have typically fared poorly in SPOTY however, with no winners since 1989, and only three runners-up, in Darren Clarke after his Ryder Cup performance following his wife’s passing in 2006, his incredible Open win in 2011, and Rory McIlroy’s two-major 2014.

Jonny Bairstow may catch the eye as an outsider. He was one of the few players to leave the Australian Ashes tour with any credit, having notched a century at the SCG, following that up with another century against the West Indies. More recently, he’s been in the form of his life against New Zealand and India, averaging a ridiculous 196 across his last five innings.

His T20 form in 2021 wasn’t quite at the same level, but there’s plenty of time to turn that around ahead of the World Cup in October.

By @LiamWilliamsSJ

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