CHARLES GRAHAM - It’s been a surprisingly rich year for top sporting talent

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AND so we have a shortlist of 12 contenders for this year’s BBC Sports Personality.

It is a longer list than normal, but to be honest there are many folk who could have won the award in any other year than this one who didn’t even make it into 2012’s illustrious company, given the quality and depth of talent.

That there aren’t any cricketers, rugby players or footballers in contention is no controversy after a poor year for team sport.

But when you consider how many other gold medallists at the Olympics haven’t made the final cut (we didn’t have any at the 1976 Games), it just goes to show what an unprecedentedly rich year it has been. Champion boxers, cyclists, athletes and rowers galore have had to be overlooked.

And while “our” Bradley Wiggins is the bookies’ favourite (and would be a deserving winner to boot considering his history-making year), his clinching the BBC title is by no means a certainty.

With the public deciding the trophy’s destination, choice will partly boil down, I think, to the most potent memories folk can conjure up now they have had the benefit of several months’ repose since most of the excitement took place.

Was the adrenaline pumping more as you watched Bradley pedalling to victory in the Tour de France (followed up by his fourth Olympic gold) or Mo Farrah completing a 5,000 and 10,000m double in the athletics stadium? Which was the greater achievement?, folk will ask themselves (is it possible to compare like with unlike?)

Certain contenders – Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray, Farrah and Wiggins – have rarely been out of the news and/or sport since; wherereas other champs - such as Paralympic marvel David Weir or sailing master Ben Ainslie – have slipped off the radar rather more.

Then there is the overall popularity of different sports.

Will someone doing well in some disciplines be rated higher than in others because there is more/greater competition? And don’t forget, viewers are also meant to rate them on their personality too.

For what my opinion is worth I think the final standings will be Wiggins (gold), Murray (silver) and Ennis (bronze) but it is quite possible that another three could be on the podium and still be worthy winners.