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Craig Porter 23rd Dec 2009 - 12:37

William Hill Sporting Icons Survey: the results are in

Pele or Puskas? Botham or Bradman? Tiger or The Golden Bear? During November we asked our readers to vote for their sporting icons, and the results are in.

We needed 13 sporting heroes to decorate the walls of the new William Hill Sporting Bar at Kempton Racecourse. The winners in each of the categories would adorn the bar at Kempton, the setting for the William Hill Winter Festival which includes the King George VI on Boxing Day.

Like the ongoing arguments down the pub, there was disagreement, even controversy. Some thought there weren't enough categories, others that the poll wouldn't highlight the achievements of female sporting legends. Nevertheless, the results are in and the winners are...

Horse Racing

There were four racing categories (the bar is at a racecourse afterall). The Flat Racing Legend was a scrap between jockeys Frankie Dettori and Lester Piggott who shared two-thirds of the total votes but it was The Long Fellow, Lester Piggott that crossed the line first with 36% of votes.

A jockey was favoured over the jumps as well as Tony McCoy got nearly 40% of the votes for National Hunt Legend. A.P. must be proud to add William Hill Sporting Icon to his list of 3,000 plus career wins.

Sea The Stars was voted the top flat horse ahead of Shergar and Nijinski. The timing of the poll could well have contributed to this result but 28% of voters went for the John Oxx trained colt.

The result of the National Hunt Horse poll was not necessarily a surprise, however, Red Rum's 37% of the votes compared to Desert "Dessie" Orchid's meagre 16% was a much bigger margin than expected.


He told us he was the greatest and it looks like we all listened and agreed, well 64% of the William Hill Sporting Icons entrants who voted for Muhammad Ali in the boxing category.


Always a contentious issue as there are so many players in so many countries playing at so many levels. Brazil's superstar Pele stood up, without the aid of pills, ahead of the Best (George came second with 15%) and won with 27% of the votes. It appears we all have long memories as Maradona slipped to third with 8%.


Too broad a category really, and a sentiment often aired during the poll but the loyal British public plumped for five-time Olympic gold medalist Sir Steve Redgrave (21%). That put Usain Bolt in second place with 18%, not a spot the Jamaican has been used to being in.

Motor Sports

Yes, it's unfair on all motor cyclists and rally drivers to say the least as F1 would always prevail in this category but no-one can really argue that seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher doesn't deserve a spot on the wall with 40% of votes. Aryton Senna was runner up with 16%.


Plagued by personal problems of late, almost half of you (48.08%) voted for Tiger Woods as your top golfer. The Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, came second with a quarter (24.49%) of the votes.


Had his fair share of controversy over the years but, with undeniable talent, Sir Ian Botham came out as the top cricketer with 26% of your patriotic votes ahead of good support for all of Brian Lara, Shane Warne and Don Bradman.


In hindsight this sport should definitely been split into men's and ladies' categories - but it wasn't and 36% of you voted for Roger Federer from Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras.


We know that Rugby League and Union are two completely different sports but in all honesty, how many people have an opinion on a Rugby League legend? Well Billy Boston picked up 5.3% of your votes which is admirable. However, he didnt' kick England to World Cup glory like Jonny Wilkinson (17.47% of votes).


The list of sports could have gone on forever, as did your list of suggestions for this category but a worthy winner came in the shape of cyclist Lance Armstrong (26.26%) who narrowly beat Phil “The Power” Taylor (21.62%).

So there you have it, the William Hill News readership has spoken. I reckon we do this all again in a few months to see if you've changed your mind.


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