Last night Lewis Hamilton was announced as the 2014 winner of the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, beating the bookies’ favourite, Irish golfer Rory McIlroy, to the top position.
Hamilton was a clear winner, gaining 209, 920 telephone votes from a total of 620,932 cast. McIlroy came second, with 123, 745 votes and athlete Jo Pavey was third with 99,931 votes.
Hamilton seemed genuinely shocked and taken aback by the win, telling the 12,000-strong audience in the Scottish SSE Hydro Arena: “I really wasn’t expecting that, especially as I was watching all of the videos during the awards. We are really talking about some of the great sportspeople of our time.”
“I am really, really taken aback. I am overwhelmed and feel so honoured. I have an amazing following but you never know how well you are appreciated throughout the whole of the UK. I would have been proud just to be amongst these people, who have done such amazing things,” said the Formula One driver.
Hamilton expressed his gratitude to everyone who has supported him over the years and enabled his sporting dreams to come true. Hamilton, who stopped to hug his brother before mounting the stage to receive his trophy, told the crowd: “When I was growing up in Stevenage, of course I wanted to be a racing driver and be the best in the world but I didn’t ever contemplate all the people who would support or follow me. I just wanted to be the best.”
Hamilton was full of praise for his father, Anthony Hamilton, who has been pivotal to his son’s success. Lewis told the audience: “I could not have done this without my amazing team, my family, my dad who once had four jobs to help me.”
Hamilton also expressed his pride in being a British sports star and representing Great Britain as a racer, gushing, “I am so proud of being British” and saying,” I feel so proud to carry the Union flag and hope I will continue to make you proud.”
McIlroy, who was hotly tipped to win the award, praised Hamilton. “Lewis has had a fantastic year so I have no complaints. This was his second world championship and he dominated the F1 season,” said the golfer.
Yet not everyone was full of praise for Lewis Hamilton following his win last night.
Golfer Ian Poulter took to Twitter to suggest that it was wrong that his fellow golfer McIlroy was beaten by Hamilton.
Others questioned Hamilton’s right to win such a prestigious British award given the fact that he spends much of his time abroad and does not pay into the British tax system. Hamilton moved to Monaco in 2012 after having lived in Switzerland for a number of years.
One critic, Chris Hall, wrote: ‘The real travesty is that kids inspired by Lewis Hamilton will never get chances he did thanks to tax-dodgers like him.’
John Torrie also knocked the Formula One raceer, saying: ‘#SportsPersonality An oxymoron perpetuated by the choice of Lewis Hamilton. Proud to be born British but doesn’t want to live here among us.’
Yet Hamilton’s outstanding achievements this year are beyond debate and most agree he is a much-deserving winner.
Hamilton is the first Formula One driver to win the title since Damon Hill back in 1996.