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Murray out in front as SPOTY favourite

Andy Murray will start as the odds-on favourite to become the first three-time winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award when the 2016 ceremony takes place in Birmingham tomorrow.

Murray’s second Wimbledon title, his retention of his Olympic singles crown and his rise to world number one over Novak Djokovic make it almost inconceivable he will not repeat his 2013 and 2015 triumphs.

But for Murray’s 15 remaining rivals for the award, selected by a panel comprising senior sports and media figures, their shortlisting presents a valuable opportunity to thrust their own sports into the spotlight.

An average of just under eight million viewers have tuned into the ceremony in each of the last three years, and more than one million people voted in 2015, including more than 350,000 for Murray.

Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee, whose odds tumbled after he helped his stricken brother Jonny over the finish line at a World Series event in Mexico, said he hoped it would attract more interest to triathlon.

Brownlee told Press Association Sport: “It’s a great honour to be nominated at all, but I think this year, especially in such a brilliant year for Olympic sport and when you see the rest of the line-up, it is extra-special.”

Victory for Murray would place tennis third in terms of most wins since the programme first started in 1954, with six, behind athletics with 17.

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