REIGNING Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton was last night crowned Sports Personality of the Year ahead of world No1 golfer and bookmakers’ favourite Rory McIlroy.
The 29-year-old Mercedes driver secured his second world title last month after winning 11 races over the course of the season, becoming only the fourth Briton to bag the drivers’ championship at least twice.
McIlroy won two Majors during 2014, the Open and the US PGA, as well as contributing to Europe’s triumph over the United States during September’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey, aged 40, came third.
Hamilton, who was runner-up to boxer Joe Calzaghe in 2007 and Sir Chris Hoy a year later, became the fifth F1 driver to scoop the accolade behind double-winners Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell, Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart.
“I am so speechless. I am so proud and honoured to be among such great sporting talent,” said Hamilton. “Dude, you [Rory McIlroy] had such an amazing year.
“We are always reminded just quite how many great sportsmen and women we have and I never thought in a million years I’d be standing with such greats. It’s just a dream.
“Thank you to all the fans. It’s been an amazing year and I really felt your support out there. I always say we win and lose together because I feel your love. I feel so proud to carry the Union flag and I hope I will continue to make you proud.”
Triumphant Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley was named Coach of the Year following his side’s 16½-11½ Ryder Cup victory, which saw Europe claim their third successive win.
Europe failed to take the Team of the Year scalp, however, which went to England women’s rugby union side following August’s 21-9 victory over Canada in Paris to lift a first World Cup since 1994.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo won Overseas Sports Personality of the Year, while teenage gymnast Claudia Fragapane took the Young Sports Personality of the Year title after scooping four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.
The competitors of the inaugural Invictus Games received the Helen Rollason Award, presented by Prince Harry, as 77-year-old Jill Stidever won Sport’s Unsung Hero gong after spending nearly 60 years teaching children with special needs to swim.