Giggs wins BBC Sports Personality of Year award

LONDON: Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs crowned a memorable 2009 by being named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday after topping a public vote.Formula One world champion Jenson Button was runner-up in the poll and world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis came third.

Wales international Giggs, 36, is the most decorated player in English football history and in May won a record 11th Premier League winners’ medal.

He was only the fifth footballer to win the award in its 55-year history and the first since his former Manchester United teammate David Beckham in 2001.

A visibly surprised Giggs, who received his award in front of an audience of 11,000 people at the Sheffield Arena in northern England, said: “It’s a shock, it’s a big shock.

“As if I wasn’t nervous enough, my heroes Seb Coe and Michael Johnson are here,” added Giggs, who joined United as a 16-year-old trainee in 1990.

“Honestly this is unbelievable. I have been lucky enough to win a lot of things in my career, playing with great players and under the greatest manager (Sir Alex Ferguson) that ever lived, and playing for the greatest club.

“This is up there with all of that. I grew up watching this TV programme and to see all the people who have won it and to be up there with them, it’s unbelievable.

“For my children Liberty and Zach, you can stop watching and go to bed now – there’s school in the morning.”

The other footballers to win the award were England’s World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore (1966), Paul Gascoigne (1990) and Giggs’ current United colleague Michael Owen (1998).

The England men’s cricket team, currently on tour in South Africa, were named Team of the Year after beating Australia to regain the Ashes.

England football manager Fabio Capello was named Coach of the Year.

World champion diver Tom Daley, still only 15, won the Young Sports Personality of the Year award.

Jamaica’s Olympic champion Usain Bolt won the Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award for the second year in a row. Bolt lowered his own world records in the 100 and 200 metres to 9.58 and 19.19 seconds respectively at this year’s World Championships in Berlin.

Spanish golf great Severiano Ballesteros, the first European to win the US Masters title, received a lifetime achievement award.

Ballesteros, who is currently suffering with cancer, was unable to attend the awards ceremony and received his trophy at home in Pedrena, Spain from fellow Spanish golfer Jose Maria Olazabal.

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year, which is restricted to British sportsmen and women, as is the team award, began in 1954 when then 5,000m world record holder Christopher Chataway was the inaugural winner. — AFP

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