THERE was something wonderfully refreshing about the victorious Andy Murray’s absence from Sports Personality of the Year last night.
On a weekend of personality-obsessed television, whether it be X Factor or Strictly, here was a genuine star who understood that hard work had got him to be a leading contender for the award in the first place, and he wasn’t going to compromise that ethos even for such a prestigious Sunday night show.
Murray is nothing if not straightforward. He doesn’t do fripperies. If one of his beloved dogs was ill, he would fly back from the moon to help the vet, but a TV show is just a TV show, and if, as he genuinely believes, two days away from training at a time when his injured back needs maximum care and attention was going to impact on his chances of an Australian Open title next month, then it was a simple call to make.
Whether he was right or wrong is another matter. It was, as ever, a tremendous occasion, but the icing on the cake was melting in the Florida sunshine instead of basking in British adulation in Leeds. Like a father who misses his child’s nativity play because of an unmissable meeting – there is no such thing – this may have been a once in a lifetime event that he and his family come to regret missing.
But he will know why he made the decision, based on a regime and approach that made him our first men’s Wimbledon singles champion since before most of us were born. And attending or not, his name will be on the trophy alongside Coe and Becks and the rest in perpetuity.
I trust none of you reading this changed your vote on the evening because of Murray’s perceived snub of this bastion of British TV. I equally hope the unfathomable Home Counties anti-Andy brigade do not find themselves a few extra converts because of his non-appearance.
We actually should be applauding him for displaying the kind of work ethic we would love our colleagues, and especially our children, to share. At the end of another epic sporting year, he has set the benchmark not just in achieving success, but in how to go about it.