Emma Raducanu: Why it's significant for star to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year

After an action-packed 12 months of sport, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year is set to be crowned on Sunday

After an action-packed 12 months of sport, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year is set to be crowned on Sunday.

Six incredible athletes have been nominated for the accolade, including Dame Sarah Storey, who became Britain’s most successful Paralympian over the summer.

She is joined by diver Tom Daley, who became an Olympic champion in the men’s synchronised 10-metre platform at his fourth Games, and unbeaten boxer Tyson Fury, who retained his WBC title in Las Vegas in October.

Adam Peaty is another Olympian on the list. He became the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title, triumphing in the 100m breaststroke gold. Footballer Raheem Sterling has also been nominated. 

Rounding off the shortlist is Emma Raducanu. The 19-year-old made history after defeating Leylah Fernandez in the final of the US Open, becoming the first ever qualifier, male or female, to win a Grand Slam title.

She also became Britain’s first female Grand Slam winner since Virginia Wade in 1977.

After rising to world number 19 in the WTA rankings, Raducanu is now favourite to win the public vote for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.

If she was to receive the accolade, it would be highly significant for the world of women’s sport.

Emma Raducanu is favourite to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Why would it be so significant if Emma Raducanu wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year?

Despite the incredible achievements of sportswomen over the years, BBC Sports Personality of the Year has remained dominated by male athletes.

The last female winner of the accolade came in 2006, when Zara Phillips was awarded for winning a gold medal at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen.

She was just the 13th sportswoman to be given the award, out of 66 total recipients. Despite women making up 50 percent of the population, under 20 percent of BBC Sports Personality of the Year winners have been female.

Sportswomen have often been left off the shortlist completely. If the BBC were to decide the nominees with gender equality in mind, there would be a 50/50 split of male and female athletes. But even this year, there are more men than women.

Raducanu and Storey may be included on the shortlist, but Laura Kenny, the most successful female cyclist in Olympic history and the first British woman to earn golds at three consecutive Olympics, is a glaring omission.

Zara Phillips is the last female winner of BBC Sports Personality of the Year

When sportswomen are nominated, they often don’t get the level of recognition they deserve.

Take Jessica Ennis-Hill, for example. The heptathlete is one of Britain’s greatest sportswomen, earning an Olympic gold medal at London 2012 and three world titles during her impressive career.

But Ennis-Hill never managed to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year, placing third in 2009, 2010 and 2015, and second in 2012.

Raducanu has already had a historic year, and she will continue to break ground if she wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year. It will demonstrate that women’s sport is as worthy of recognition and adoration as men’s sport.

The 19-year-old may end a 15-year absence of a female BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and hopefully her triumph will mean we are never waiting for the same period of time again.

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