November 2023

Sports Personality of the Year presenters share memories and memorable moments

Sports Personality of the Year presenters share memories and memorable moments

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2023 is taking place on Tuesday 19 December from dock10 studios in Media City, Salford. BBC Sport's most well-known and loved faces – Gary Lineker, Clare Balding, Gabby Logan and Alex Scott – will present the programme live on BBC One and iPlayer from 7pm – 9pm.

We caught up with them to hear about their earliest Spots Personality of the Year memories and most memorable moments.

Gary Lineker

Q: What's your earliest memory of Sports Personality of the Year?

One of my favourite early SPOTYs was 1981, the year Ian Botham won the main prize. That year's Ashes which England won became known as 'Botham's Ashes'. He was sublime throughout. As a big cricket fan, I recall being encapsulated by the series, and it was a big moment for the nation.

Q: What winning moment stands out to you from over the years?

The late, truly great Sir Bobby Charlton receiving a special Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 was an incredible moment. Given his achievements in football during his playing days and afterwards, and how much he was revered around the world, it was genuinely an honour to be stood watching on stage as he was presented with the award. His brother Jack remarking on Sir Bobby's accomplishments and life was an amazingly powerful, emotional moment.

Q: Why do you think it's so special to celebrate sporting achievements with these awards?

Sport is so important. It allows for escapism, it gets our juices flowing. So, recognising greatness is naturally important too. One element of SPOTY I have always been impressed by is the superb turnout. It shows that people want to win it.

Clare Balding

Q: What's your earliest memory of Sports Personality of the Year?

My earliest memory of what was then Sports Review of the Year was of my father, who trained a horse called Mill Reef, and on the show in 1972 they did a live link up with him in the stable where he was recovering from surgery to mend a broken leg. Harry Carpenter did an interview with Dad. I also remember them bringing Red Rum into the studio - it must've been about 1977 and they did a live link up with his jockey Tommy Stack in Ireland. Red Rum pricked his ears when he hears Tommy's voice.

Q: What winning moment stands out to you from over the years?

Bradley Wiggins was very funny in 2012 calling Sue Barker Susan. It really made her laugh. I also remember the standing ovation AP McCoy got when he won in 2010. That was also the year that James Corden did a very funny routine as Smithy, giving a rousing talk to the assembled sports stars. Also, in 1999 I was one of the five presenters when Muhammad Ali won Sports Personality of the Century. That was an amazing moment to witness.

Why do you think it's so special to celebrate sporting achievements with these awards?

It's a wonderful way to mark the highest achievers in the sporting year. I think the sporting greats really love mixing with each other and being able to look back with pride and enjoy what they’ve done.

Gabby Logan

Q: What's your earliest memory of Sports Personality of the Year?

My earliest SPOTY memory is 1984 Torvill and Deane, I am sure I voted for them in the back of the Radio Times. I was fairly obsessed by them.

Q: What winning moment stands out to you from over the years?

One of my favourite winners was 2016 Andy Murray. His third win made him the first and only person to date to have three wins, and as a huge Murray fan and having been to his big finals I was so happy to be part of the show even if he was in Miami.

However sometimes it is the Lifetime Achievement winners which make me more emotional. Sir Bobby Robson's speech was brilliant in 2007 and AP McCoy was memorable in 2015.

Q: Why do you think Sports Personality of the Year is so special?

Sport can be so attritional, it's a tough life and away from the well-covered sports like football, cricket and rugby we often don't get a chance to really celebrate other equally brilliant sports people on a big stage like SPOTY. So, it's particularly important for someone like me who loves Olympic sport that we see the shortlist combine boxers with gymnasts and athletes with swimmers and motor racing with golf and all the other sports that have been represented by the winners and nominees for the top award.

I also think the Unsung Hero award personifies what is great about sport, the volunteering and grass roots sport that gets recognized in that award is the backbone of sport in our country.

Alex Scott

Q: What's your earliest memory of Sports Personality of the Year?

I would say in 2007 - I think that was the first time I actually attended as an England player - I was blown away that I was even in the room with so many sporting icons and what a special occasion it was. I was there with a few of my England teammates as we had made it to the World Cup in China that year. I remember it being a really special event for us all.

Q: What winning moment stands out to you from over the years?

They've been so many amazing winning moments, it's really hard to pick out one, however last year was really special for Beth Mead. From everything that she had been through on and off the pitch, winning such an iconic award was something special was another huge moment for Women's football and a first for that award, so that was an incredible moment.

Q: Why do you think it's so special to celebrate sporting achievements with these awards?

It's an evening that's not just about the winners, but about putting a spotlight on everyone in sport for their efforts, especially the unsung heroes that do so much.