The Sports History Chronicle British Sportsman of the Year 2016: Adam Peaty

Looking at the list of previous winners of this award I realised that all four of them won golds at the Olympics in 2016. Safe to say that the latest winner will have won in Rio.

My list for consideration was:

Carl Frampton (Boxing) – two excellent world title fight wins becoming a two weight champion.  The fights he won were both against very strong opponents and unlike many world championship fights were worthy of the name.  The number of disputed world titles make it hard to put many boxers on my shortlist but Frampton was probably the pick of the British fighters in respect of the difficulty of the fights he took and won.  However, it is still hard to be sure if he is the best in the world at his weight.
Liam Heath (Canoeing) – Olympic gold in the 200m K1 event.  He had a good season elsewhere, taking the European title and one world cup race, with third in another world cup race.  He also won Olympic silver in the K2.
Jason Kenny (Cycling) – three gold medals at the Olympics, in the sprint, Keirin and team sprint.  He also won the world championship in the sprint.  A great season but with a limited number of races.
Chris Froome (Cycling) – produced arguably his most impressive win when taking his third Tour de France with a dominant performance.  He also won the Dauphine, was second in the Vuelta, and was third in the Olympic time trial.
Danny Hart (Mountain Bike) – downhill world championship winner and a good world cup coming second.
Jack Carthy (Mountain Bike Trials) -world cup and world championship winner.  One disappointing event but unbeaten afterwards.

Mo Farah (Athletics) – another brilliant double gold at the Olympics in 5000m and 10000m despite a fall in the final.  He never looks like getting beaten but still hasn’t had to run a really fast time.

Johnny Peacock (Athletics) – 100m gold and a Paralympic records at the Paralympics.  He also won the European 100m title.
Gary Anderson (Darts) – won his second PDC world title but didn’t have any other major wins.
Nick Skelton (Show Jumping) – it was a wonderful story when he won the Olympic title aged 58.  It was a real surprise when he did as he didn’t have any other notable wins in the season.
Max Whitlock (Gymnastics) – Olympic golds in the floor and pommel horse and third in the all-round competition. Won all-round, floor and pommel in the Glasgow world cup.
Jonathan Rea (Superbikes) – another world title and a very consistent season in a sport where British riders filled the top three places in the world championship.  My question about Superbikes is whether the riders are the best racers when compared to Moto GP riders.
Giles Scott (Sailing) – Olympic champion in the Finn class.  He actually lost a regatta for the first time in years in March but won the Olympic title and his other two regattas.
Mark Selby (Snooker) – winner of the World and UK championships, the two most prestigious titles in the sport. He was ranked world number one for the fifth year.  These were fine wins but probably didn’t win quite enough elsewhere.

Ollie Hynd (Swimming) – probably the pick of the GB male Paralympians winning two gold medals in world record times. He also won three golds at the European championships.
Adam Peaty (Swimming) – winner of the Olympic gold in the 100m breaststroke where he set world records in the semi-final and final.  He took nearly a second off his own previous mark in the course of the Games.  Another outstanding season and a contender again for this award.
Andy Murray (Tennis) – he finally reached the summit of his sport by reaching number one in the rankings.  He won the Olympic title, Wimbledon and the Tour Final as well as the finals in Australian and French Opens.
Alistair Brownlee (Triathlon) – retained his Olympic title and won two other ITU world series events.  His early season was affected by injury but once fully fit showed that he is the best triathlete in the world.  His season was too much affected to win the World Series title and so he isn’t a contender for my award.

With all this success I could only narrow it down to a top six for my final shortlist:

Jason Kenny, Mo Farah, Max Whitlock, Ollie Hynd, Adam Peaty and Andy Murray.

If I was considering career achievements then Kenny and Farah would be possible winners but even though they were brilliant in 2016 their multiple medal feats have been done before at championships.  Hynd’s records elevate him but Paralympic records are hard to evaluate. Whitlock’s two golds put him close to winning but the best gymnast in the world is still Kohei Uchimura so my final choice came down to Murray and Peaty, who I regard as the best in their entire sports in 2016.  Murray had a great second half to the eyear to overhaul Djokovic as world number one but this was as much to do with the Serb’s level dropping after completing a career Grand Slam at the French Open.  With Nadal and Federer out of the picture with injuries the way was clear for Murray.  He only won one Grand Slam and although  he won the Olympics and Tour Finals I feel he needed another to win my award.

He would still have won it had Peaty not had such a magnificent year.  As the 50m breaststroke isn’t an Olympic event he was free to concentrate fully on the 100m this year.  He did win both events at the European Cha,mpionships then in Rio he produced the finest men’s 100m breaststroke series in Olympic history.   After breaking his own world record in the heat  he did it again in the final to win by over 1.5 seconds, the largest margin ever at the Games in the event, taking a total of 0.79 seconds from the world record during the event.  This is the most any man has taken from the record in one year since 1961.  This amazing performance means that for the second consecutive year Adam Peaty is my British Sportsman of the Year.

Adam Peaty

Previous Winners

2015 Adam Peaty (Swimming),   Runners-up: Giles Scott (Sailing), Aled Davies (Para Athletics)
2014 Giles Scott (Sailing):  Runners-up Rory McIlroy (Golf), Adam Peaty (Swimming)
2013 Mo Farah (Athletics) – winner of the 5000m and 10,000m world titles: Runners-Up: Andy Murray (Tennis), Chris Froome (Cycling)
2012 Bradley Wiggins (Cycling) – winner of the Tour de France and Olympic time trial gold: Runners-up: Ben Ainslie (Sailing),Andy Murray (Tennis), Rory McIlroy (Golf), David Weir (Para Athletics), Mo Farah (Athletics)

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