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Stuart Dalgleish 21st Dec 2011 - 21:48

Luke at the value to be had in our SPOTY markets

BBC Sports Personality of the Year preview - 20:00 live on BBC One

The prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards take place on Thursday night, here I'll give a quick rundown on each candidate and also try pick out some value on our range of markets we have on the show.

Mark Cavendish 1/3

Cavendish is always good for a few stage wins at the Tour de France, but this year he took it to the next level.

The Manxman claimed five stages in France, which was enough to become the first Briton to win the coveted green jersey for the points classification, claiming it in style by being the first person in history to win the final stage three years in a row.

As if his Tour exploits weren't enough, the sprint king then went on to win the UCI Road World Championship, becoming the first British rider in 46 years to claim the rainbow jersey.

It truly was a ground-breaking year for Cav, but will he suffer the same fate as so many other odds-on favourites for the SPOTY?

Darren Clarke 9/2

Darren Clarke will be hoping so.

The Northern Irishman fulfilled every British golfers dream by winning the Open, and he did it at a canter.

With multiple-major winner Phil Mickelson breathing down his neck, he held his nerve to claim the title at the 20th time of asking with a five-under par.

If this award was given out on personality alone, then Clarke could well find himself as the 1/50 favourite as he's a real character of the game, but if we're being brutally honest, the 43-year old hasn't done much since that memorable day in July.

Clarke will probably be the first to admit that he's sunk more pints than putts in the final stages of the year, but the emotion that must've overcome him after a tough few years away from the greens will surely have played a factor.

Rory McIlroy 12/1

Fellow Northern Irish star Rory McIlroy also landed an unbelievable feat in 2011, he somehow persuaded Caroline Wozniacki to become his girlfriend; he also won the US Open.

Of course it's his achievements on the course that he's being 'graded' on though and it has been quite some year for the young Hollywood native.

After a spectacular meltdown at The Masters, it would've been easy for Rory to lose his head a little, but he bounced back in phenomenal fashion at Congressional, by winning the US with a fantastic 16-under par.

Just one more title was added to the mantelpiece after that, a recent win in Hong Kong, but he's been a model of consistency having made the cut at every European Tour event he's played, finishing in the top 10 in 12 of the 19 tournaments.

He generated more buzz than Tiger Woods this year, now he has to make sure that this isn't just a flash in the pan by competing with the legendary American in 2012, it should make for another enthralling year in the golf world.

Mo Farah 12/1

Mohammed Farah, otherwise known as Mo, followed up his double-gold winning 2010 by claiming three medals this year.

The Somalia-born runner took gold in the 3,000 metres race at the European Indoor Championships, silver at the 10,000m World Championships in Athletics, then a superb gold in the 5,000m also in the Daegu meeting.

Farah also won the New York City Half Marathon, the 10,000m in British and European record time at Eugene and also the 5,000m at Monaco, with another British record time.

I would find it unlikely that an athlete would win it this year though, as it's almost certain that any gold medallist at the London Olympics will be the frontrunners for next year's award, these events that Farah has triumphed in are small fry compared to what's to come.

Luke Donald 16/1

Has there been an English golfer more dominant in the last couple of decades than Luke Donald was in 2011?

The likeable Hertfordshire ace claimed the PGA and European Tour money lists, the first player to achieve the feat, and also climbed to the top of the world rankings, not bad for a player who's yet to win a major.

Donald won four events during 2011, but his consistency was of the highest order.

In 19 PGA events he finished in the top 10 14 times, including a tied-fourth at the Masters and a tied-eighth at the PGA, his other two major appearances were best forgotten, but you sense his first win can't be far away if he continues his regular season form.

I'm not sure he can win the SPOTY on consistency alone, but at 2/1 he's a great shout for a top 3 finish, and if you combine him with Clarke and McIlroy then you get 9/4 on golf being the winning sport.

Alastair Cook 66/1

Alastair Cook enjoyed a prolific year at the crease during 2011 as part of the England Test team that rose to number one in the world and also retained the Ashes.

His sensational run of form started at the back end of 2010, when he scored 235* in that quite frankly ridiculous 517-1 score that England enjoyed in drawing the first Test.

After that he started the Test year by scoring three hundreds in a row, in Australia when England put the gloss on their series win, then against Sri Lanka at Cardiff and Lord's to help the Three Lions win a rain-affected series.

He had a few barren knocks before scoring his highest Test score of 294, during the emphatic whitewash of the then world number one side India.

Cook was also handed the one-day captaincy this year, and he scored six scores of 50+, including another century at Lord's, overseeing two series wins over Sri Lanka and India, the World Cup winners routed 4-0 in the ODI series.

The year ended on a sour note for Chef, as the reverse series against India saw England embarrassed 5-0 as they once again failed to get to grips with Asian pitches.

Andrew Strauss 150/1

Since Andrew Strauss took over the captaincy from the ill-fated Kevin Pietersen reign, England have gone from strength to strength.

Strauss' own personal form has been less than spectacular, having averaged just under 35 in Tests and ODIs, but his leadership skills are exceptional and his decision making has improved ten-fold.

He has now retired from the limited-overs stuff to concentrate on trying to make England one of the best teams in Test history.

With the players at his disposal, you could argue that he doesn't have the most difficult job in the world; but one incorrect field change could be disastrous, leaving out the wrong member of the bowling attack could set the tone for the whole match, and this is something that Strauss is nailing time after time.

Much like Michael Vaughan before him, he's gone from a run-maker to a decision maker with great benefit to the team, and it shows the sign of the man he is.

Dai Greene 150/1

Dai Greene holds the European, Commonwealth and World 400m hurdles gold medals and will be looking to make that Olympic gold on home turf next year.

The Welsh speedster is only behind Kriss Akabusi as the fastest British man over the jumps, and has the chance to join Linford Christie, Jonathan Edwards, Sally Gunnell and Daley Thompson as the only British athletes to win all of athletics' major medals.

Greene didn't take up athletics seriously until he was at university, and this was after he was diagnosed with epilepsy, it would be a tremendous story if he were to win on Thursday night.

Andy Murray 200/1

For a 200/1 outsider, Andy Murray has hardly had a bad year.

He won five titles, including three in a row in the Asian swing and temporarily moved up to number three in the world, while also reaching the semi-finals of all four Grand Slams.

Once again though, he flopped in a major final when Novak Djokovic easily beat him in the Australian Open, although in fairness the Serb did destroy everybody in sight this year.

Unfortunately for the Scot, I think it would take him winning Wimbledon for him to have any chance in the SPOTY.

I'm not his biggest fan, but I would love for him to win at SW19, it's quite pathetic that no British player other than him ever has a chance of winning a Grand Slam, but you can't see it changing any time soon.

Amir Khan 200/1

Khan is a bit similar to Murray really, he's a fine performer in his field, but he's never going to be the absolute best and he's never going to be universally popular.

If the Bolton-born star had beaten Lamont Peterson then he might have had a sniff of a half-chance, but the controversial defeat means he is basically making up the numbers here.

I'm pretty sure there are several females who deserve to be ahead of Khan in the shortlist, but that's a whole different argument.

Beating Paul McCloskey and Zab Judah is not going to win you the Sports Personality of the Year.

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