The BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) award seeks to recognise sporting achievement by British athletes - even in years when success has been spread rather thin. This year's prize, however, is the most anticipated in over a decade, thanks to the exploits of Team GB's olympians this summer. With the awards ceremony due to take place on December 16, the betting market is already attracting plenty of interest, so here we take a look at the main contenders...
Bradley Wiggins (1.45 to win)
It's been a stellar year for cycling's most notable mod. Wiggins romped to victory in the Tour de France, becoming the first Brit to win the famous race in 99 editions. And it wasn't just his riding that earnt him plaudits on the other side of the channel: his decision to allow rival Cadel Evans to catch up after a spectator threw tacks onto the road (yes, really) saw him christened Le Gentlemen in the French press. Très bien, Wiggo. Things, of course, got even better for the 32-year-old. Wiggins rang the bell to start the opening ceremony of London 2012 and proceeded to win his fourth Olympic gold in the road time trial. Fame, fortune and a rushed autobiography have followed, but it's Wiggins' exceptional sporting achievements in 2012 that make him the firm favourite for the gong.
Andy Murray (3.20)
This was the year that Murray went from moody and misunderstood to national treasure. If his tears after losing the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer won our hearts, it was his subsequent victories at the Olympic tennis tournament and the US Open - his first major title - that ensured his place in the roll call of great British sportspeople. A clever, cultured player, Murray has managed to crash the top level tennis party that seemed exclusively reserved for Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic. That a (formerly) scrawny lad from Dunblane competes with, and often beats, those glamorous names will surely go some way to inspiring the next generation of tennis players in the UK, but will it be enough to win him one final prestigious award before the year is done?
Mo Farah (4.25)
In any other year, Mo would surely be the stand-out candidate for the award. His Olympic long distance double set new standards for British athletics, producing deafening screams of encouragement in Stratford and in living rooms throughout the country. His cute 'Mobot' celebration and his humble press statements further endeared him to the public, while his stunned yet elated face became the enduring image of the London Games. If you think the SPOTY audience will go for Farah's elegant running and winning smile, 4.25 is your price.
Jessica Ennis (8.00)
The golden girl of the golden summer, Jessica Ennis may feel slightly hard done by to only be fourth favourite to win SPOTY. True, she only won one major championship (Wiggins, Murray and Farah won two apiece), but her sport features SEVEN EVENTS, for goodness sake! Whether running, jumping, throwing or pole vaulting, Jess was head and shoulders above her opposition in the Olympic Stadium. Her final event, the 800m, brought the house down, and confirmed her status as an athlete of awesome ability. She already has a stand named after her at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane stadium, and stands a good outide chance of adding another trophy to her collection in December.
David Weir (30.00)
Four Olympic gold medals is some achievement by any standards, but the sheer variety of the paralympian's successes is flabbergasting. Weir, who is unable to use his legs due to a spinal chord transection, propelled his way to victory over four different distances, ranging from 800m to the marathon. Just think about that for a moment. Try to imagine Usain Bolt beating Stephen Kiprotich in the marathon, or vice-versa. It's unthinkable. While he may be a 30.00 long shot to pick up the SPOTY, Weir's Paralympic legacy, which also includes two golds at Beijing 2008, looks set to last the ages.
Ellie Simmonds (60.00)
The winner of the 2008 Young Sports Personality of the Year, Simmonds' achievements at London 2012 see her nominated for the main gong this time. Simmonds, who already boasted two Paralympic golds coming into this summer, was dominant in the pool, winning the 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley, setting world records in both events. Still just 18, Simmonds will be around for a while yet; this probably won't be the last time we see her on the SPOTY shortlist!
Rory McIlroy (115.00)
The huge odds available on McIlroy to win SPOTY say more about the calibre of the other candidates than they do about his achievements. The winner of the PGA Championship - his second major success - in August, McIlroy then contributed to Europe's thrilling success over the United States in the Ryder Cup. The Northern Irishman is already sitting pretty atop the world golf rankings having clinched the European Tour's Race To Dubai title, and at the tender of age of 23 he seems destined to go on to greater and greater things. Macca can be backed at 115.00 to add the SPOTY trophy to his cabinet.
Sir Chris Hoy (125.00)
The godfather of British cycling, Sir Chris didn't let age get in the way of another rousing display at the Olympic Games this year. Despite taking more of a back seat than in previous games, Hoy still picked up two golds, taking his career total to six. The winner of the 2008 SPOTY is unlikely to repeat the trick, but he can rest easy in the knowledge that his name is engraved in British sporting folklore forever.