BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lewis Hamilton admitted he had been humbled and inspired by the celebration of British sporting triumphs and sacrifices even before he scooped the top prize.
The Formula One world champion secured a surprise but emphatic victory to push world number one golfer Rory McIlroy into second place in the annual contest which allows the British public to honour their favourite sporting star.
Hamilton admitted instantly he would have voted for McIlroy, who won two majors and the Ryder Cup in 2014.
But he was also humbled by the array of talent and determination on show – personified by third-placed Jo Pavey, who ran to 10,000-metres victory in the European Championships at the age of 40, less than a year after giving birth to her second child.
Hamilton revealed the announcement of his success at the Hydro in Glasgow, one of the city’s Commonwealth Games venues, had been the biggest surprise since the time his family threw a secret 21st birthday party for him.
“What makes it even more surprising is watching all those great sportsmen and women on the screen and just realising I’m amongst some of the great sporting heroes of my time,” the two-time world champion said.
“And to think of the past heroes as well.
“I remember watching this programme growing up and thinking how cool it would be one day to meet one of those individuals.
“I came up after Sir Chris Hoy, who did such an unbelievable job for the country and his sport and Rory McIlroy, who has just blown everyone away.
“I am just blown away and I feel very, very honoured and privileged and so grateful for all the people who voted for me.
“UK is the heart of motorsport and looking at that footage almost you can see how much it changes people’s lives.
“All the people who were nominated are so inspiring and it inspires me. It was very, very humbling.”
With world championship success just three weeks ago, Hamilton’s glory was perhaps in the forefront of the public’s minds more than McIlroy’s outstanding achievements.
But the margin of victory was stark – the racing driver took a third of the total vote, claiming 209,920 votes with McIlroy second on 123,745.
When asked who he would have voted for, the Stevenage-born driver said: “Rory. But of course if you’re watching, it would be very difficult to choose.
“Because everyone in their own right has achieved so much. You watch TV and you’re reminded of the success of people.
“But this puts it in your face, just how amazing people’s achievements have been.”
And Hamilton admitted he had been especially inspired by the competitors of the Invictus Games, who together claimed the Helen Rollason Award for achievement in the face of adversity.
The games were founded by Prince Harry for injured servicemen and women and 400 athletes took part in London this year.
Hamilton spoke to Prince Harry before the ceremony and later said: “I sat down with his whole team and thought ‘I’d love to be able to do the things he is doing with those people’.
“It’s so inspiring, they have lost so much but have so much strength and will to continue,” he said.