World 10,000m champion Sir Mo Farah said he was in shock and “can’t stop staring at the trophy” after being voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
The 34-year-old had been considered third favourite by bookmakers, but topped the poll ahead of motorcyclist Jonathan Rea and Para-athlete Jonnie Peacock.
“To be honest, I’m kind of shocked. I didn’t prepare any speech,” Farah, 34, said via a video link after the show.
Boxer Anthony Joshua, rated favourite to win, was just 18 votes behind Peacock in fourth place.
Farah, the winner of 10 major global titles, has just moved back to England from the United States and was not in Liverpool for the awards show.
In a chaotic interview from London during the programme, his stepdaughter Rhianna was alongside him, helping to take care of Farah’s two-year-old son Hussein who was suffering from a sickness bug and wanting cuddles.
As the result was announced, millions of viewers saw Farah’s initial delight at winning the award before the video link cut out.
After the show, the Somali-born Londoner told the media: “I can’t stop staring at the trophy. I do owe it to the public, to the people who voted for me and supported me.
“It’s incredible, amazing. To be honest with you, I never thought I would win having come so close before.
“What a night. It’s been very entertaining. I’ve got my son pulling my mic and Rhianna shouting out. [Presenter] Gabby [Logan] was talking to me and I couldn’t even hear what she was saying. I can’t do two things at once – I can’t.”
‘Hard to win’
Farah, one of 12 contenders for the award, has been shortlisted five times before and enjoyed his previous highest finish of third in 2011.
“Over the years, I’ve come third, fourth, or thereabouts, and I was like ‘this thing, is hard to win’. But I guess you just got to do what you’ve got to do and over the past 10 years I’ve been very lucky with the career I’ve had and the support I’ve had,” he said.
“The people who voted at home for me and have supported me on the track – without their support it’s a long road and I wouldn’t have done it without them, they keep me grafting.
“It’s been an incredible night. I do wish I was there. It would have been nice to give back to the people. The most important thing in my life is my family.
“My son’s ill, the twins have been sick. It’s been a pretty hard transition moving back from the US to here. They’ve been struggling a bit.
“You saw my son and, in fact, he was throwing up everywhere in the other room.”
New challenge for Farah
Farah won with 83,524 votes, ahead of World Superbikes champion Rea (80,567) and Paralympic sprint champion Peacock (73,429).
Joshua was fourth despite beating Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley, and retaining his WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles with victory over Carlos Takam.
For Farah, a third successive World Championship 10,000m gold medal was the highlight of a year in which he also won a world 5,000m silver, missing out on a fifth major championships distance double in a row.
The four-time Olympic champion received a knighthood from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in November.
He bowed out from his track career with a 5,000m victory at the Diamond League event in Zurich in August and will now concentrate on road races.
“I’m looking forward to the marathon training. It’s not easy, but it’s exciting and you have to graft. My challenge is to compete fully in the marathon and go out as far as I can – and, who knows, get to the 2020 Olympics,” he said.
Asked if an Olympic marathon victory would top his achievements so far, he said: “It would definitely top it. There’s no athlete that’s ever gone all the way up from the track straight to the marathon and been successful.
“I want to do the marathon and go all the way. If I’m in great shape and things are good, I will go for 2020.”
A ‘great result for athletics’
Farah becomes the first long-distance runner to win the Sports Personality award since Paula Radcliffe in 2002.
Former Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, who received the Lifetime Achievement award, paid tribute.
“There was a bit of bit of drama at the end with the result, but I think Mo’s had a fantastic year, a fantastic career,” she said.
“It shows that he’s definitely got the public behind him. He wouldn’t have won otherwise. I think he will be very happy.
“He definitely deserves it and it’s great to see athletics back on the top again.”
Bradley Lowery honoured
It was a night of high emotion with the parents of Bradley Lowery given a standing ovation by the 11,000 crowd at the Echo Arena as they collected a posthumous honour.
Sunderland fan and club mascot Bradley, who died aged six from a rare form of cancer, was named the winner of the Helen Rollason Award.
The award, for achievement in the face of adversity, is in memory of the BBC presenter who died of cancer in 1999.
“I’m so proud to be here to collect this on Bradley’s behalf,” his mum Gemma said.
“It’s amazing to know that even though he was my baby, the nation are still behind us. I can’t believe he was even trending on Twitter this morning.”
Bradley’s positive attitude and cheery smile won him admirers across the world and he became “best mates” with Sunderland’s former striker Jermain Defoe.
“He was only here for six years and it was a hard six years but he did so much in that short time,” added Gemma.
Other award winners at Sports Personality 2017
- Young Sports Personality of the Year: Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden helped England win the Under-17 World Cup and took the Golden Ball award for the tournament’s best player.
- Unsung Hero: Volunteer Denise Larrad for her fundraising work. The 55-year-old has had one sole aim – to get the people of Hinckley in Leicestershire active.
- Lifetime Achievement: Former heptathlon champion Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill won Olympic gold at London 2012 and a silver at the Rio Games four years later.
- Overseas Sports Personality of the Year: Tennis player Roger Federer won the award for a record fourth time after claiming his eighth Wimbledon title and 19th Grand Slam in 2017.
- Coach of the Year: Sprint coaches Benke Blomkvist,Stephen Maguire and Christian Malcolm helped GB’s men’s 4x100m team to World Championship gold.
- Team of the Year: England women’s cricket team produced a stunning fightback to beat India and win the World Cup in July.