Wimbledon champion is 14-1 on to win BBC award, and host Gary Lineker says Scot may regret not attending ceremony
Andy Murray is the shortest-priced favourite in the 60-year history of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award after becoming the first British man to win the Wimbledon men’s singles title since Fred Perry in 1936.
But the dedication and single-mindedness that helped him buck 77 years of history will also prevent him accepting an award that is likely to underline the extent to which the nation has taken him to its heart.
The Scot agonised over whether to attend the show in Leeds on Sunday night but decided his tennis must come first and opted to stay in Miami to continue his rehabilitation from a back injury in the hope of playing in next month’s Australian Open.
He will take part in Sunday’s ceremony via videolink from Miami, where he will train every day up to and including Christmas Day before heading to Abu Dhabi on Boxing Day to play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Gary Lineker, one of the show’s hosts, said on Friday that in years to come Murray may regret not attending the “unique” annual BBC institution.
Murray is on a 10-strong shortlist that also includes Chris Froome, the Tour de France winner; Sir Ben Ainslie, who helped Team Oracle recover from an 8-1 deficit to win the America’s Cup; and Mo Farah, who won double gold at the world championships in Moscow a year after doing the same at the London Olympics.
The other nominees are the jockey Tony McCoy, who won the prize in 2010 and this year rode his 4,000th winner; the world 400m champion, Christine Ohuruogu; the golfer Justin Rose, who won the US Open; the cricketer Ian Bell, the wheelchair sprinter Hannah Cockroft and the Welsh rugby union player Leigh Halfpenny.
Murray is 14-1 on to win the award, with bookmakers offering 22-1 against second-favourite McCoy and 50-1 against Farah.
If last year’s post-London 2012 nostalgia-fest was attended by a cavalcade of medallists and accompanied by fevered speculation, with Sir Bradley Wiggins ultimately triumphing, this year’s will be marked by an overwhelming favourite and the absence of some of the main contenders.
But any lingering sense of anti-climax is likely to be extinguished by the fact that 2013 almost touched the heights of the previous year in terms of domestic sporting success.
Murray’s tears in defeat to Roger Federer in 2012, a raucously acclaimed Olympic gold on the same court and an affecting eve-of-tournament BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary all helped win over a public that had sometimes previously appeared to respect rather than love him.
Accepting another award on Thursday, for the Sports Journalists Association sportsman of the year, Murray admitted he had a troubled relationship with the media early in his career but had since found equilibrium on and off the court.
While nowhere near as controversial as the shortlist of two years ago that featured no women at all, which led to an overhaul of the nomination system, the 8-2 ratio in favour of male nominees has drawn the ire of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation amid continued debate about the profile afforded female athletes.