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Skelton 'honoured' to feature in SPOTY top three





Nick Skelton was thrilled to finish on the SPOTY podium to round off an amazing year.
Nick Skelton was thrilled to finish on the SPOTY podium to round off an amazing year.

EQUESTRIAN

NICK Skelton said he was ‘honoured’ for himself and his sport to feature among the top three in this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

The 58-year-old showjumper from near Alcester took his place on the podium behind winner Andy Murray and second-placed Alistair Brownlee after the public vote.

Skelton, who fulfilled a lifelong dream to win individual gold with Big Star at the Rio Olympics, collected 109,197 votes – including, Andy Murray revealed, a vote from his wife Kim!

Murray, who finished a stellar year as world No 1 and Wimbledon and Olympic champion, topped the vote with 247,419 votes, with Brownlee, who defended his Olympic triathlon title, totalled 121,665.

Skelton finished ahead of the likes of double double Olympic long-distance winner Mo Farah plus cycling heroes Jason Kenny and Laura Kenny.

Skelton had been a 50-1 shot for British sport’s biggest public accolade but he was delighted to be part of the glittering event at the Genting Arena in Birmingham.

“It’s a great accolade to finish in the first three,” said Skelton.

“It shows a lot of people out there noticed you and voted for you.

“Hopefully it’s put showjumping in the spotlight too. In Europe, the sport is flying. Every week, there are so many big Grands Prix going on. Hopefully, it’s done the sport here some good.”

Skelton’s SPOTY success continued a remarkable year for the rider who had been told his career was over in 2000 when he suffered a broken neck.

Big Star also suffered several injuries since Skelton won an Olympic team gold at London 2012.

“It’s an honour to be standing on the stage with so many good sportsmen and sportswomen. I’m honoured and privileged,” he said.

“All of my career I’ve felt very honoured to have represented my country for 40 years at what I do. To win gold, it was my last chance.

“To get the team gold in London was great but Rio was definitely more special. I was running out of time.

“I would like everyone who has helped me along the way, especially the people who brought lottery tickets to help Team GB with their lottery funding.”

Murray created history by winning the SPOTY prize for the third time – even though Mrs Murray opted for Skelton.

After receiving the award from former boxing world champion Lennox Lewis at his Florida training base, Murray told the TV audience: "I'd also like to thank my family. I think my mum is in the crowd there [in Birmingham]. I'd like to thank my dad as as well, who just got married 10 days ago. I miss you guys.

"A huge thanks to my wife and my daughter - she won't know what this means yet, but maybe in a few years she will.

"Actually, I've got a bone to pick with my wife because about an hour ago she told me she'd voted for Nick Skelton. Not smart from her with Christmas coming up."



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