IT HAS been an unforgettable year for Leeds Rhinos but it could get even better for one of the city’s true sporting legends after being named in the running for a prestigious prize.
A 12-strong shortlist of stars to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 includes the Rhinos’ treble winning captain Kevin Sinfield.
The Oldham-born stalwart, who served the Rhinos for 22 years, signed off his rugby league career in fine fashion this season.
The seven-times Super League winning legend captained the team to victory in the Super League Grand Final in his final match - a win which clinched the club’s first ever cup treble - before he made the late switch to rugby union; now plying his trade with the Rhino’s sister club, Yorkshire Carnegie.
He is joined on the award shortlist by Otley’s cycling champion Lizzie Armitstead and Sheffield’s superstar athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill.
It has been the best season of Armitstead’s career. The 26-year-old won the British National Road Race Championships for the third time, a triumph that propelled her to the top of the world rankings and one which came just ten days after she pulled out of the Aviva Women’s Tour in Suffolk after colliding with a group of photographers.
The former Prince Henry’s Grammar School pupil then went on to win the UCI Women’s Road World Cup in September after 10 rounds across Europe, North America and China.
The feats of Ennis-Hill have been remarkable too. Having sat out the 2014 season because of pregnancy, the 29-year-old Olympic and world heptathlon champion bounced back by qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and months after giving birth she won the heptathlon at the Beijing World Athletics Championships.
The award shortlist is decided with the input of selected former sports stars and newspaper sports editors and the winner will be announced during a televised awards ceremony in Belfast on December 20. The show will be hosted by Clare Balding, Gary Lineker and Gabby Logan.
Barbara Slater, the BBC’s director of sport and chair of the awards panel, said: “The panel was faced with some incredibly tough choices in deciding who should be on the shortlist.
“All nominees have achieved exceptional success in their respective fields in the past year and we wish each of them the best of luck.”
Also on the shortlist are: cyclist Chris Froome; footballer Lucy Bronze, athletes Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah; boxer Tyson Fury; Formula 1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton; tennis champion Andy Murray; swimmer Adam Peaty, and gymnast Max Whitlock.
Voting for the winner takes place on the night and votes can be cast by phone or online.