Nick Skelton and Sophie Christiansen missed out in the 2016 Sports Personality of the Year award — but Nick finished in third place, while Sophie came fifth.

Andy Murray won with 247,419 votes, becoming the first person to take the trophy three times, while triathlete Alistair Brownlee was second with 121,665. Nick garnered 109,197 and Sophie 37,284

Nick and Sophie were among 16 top athletes shortlisted for the annual award, and both were in the packed audience at the SPOTY ceremony in Birmingham tonight (18 December).

Eight-time Paralympic gold medallist Sophie was nominated after she retained both her London 2012 individual titles in Rio in September, as well as team gold, while Nick won hearts across the world when he and Big Star took individual gold in Rio, following winning team gold in London 2012.

“You proved the best things come to those who wait,” host Clare Balding said to Nick.

“I certainly waited a long time, and I was getting near the end and running out of time,” Nick answered.

“Luckily, it all went right. When you have a horse like that, it makes the job a lot easier.”

Nick said he was honoured to have served his country for 40 years, “and won gold on my last chance”.

“I feel very privileged to be standing here with all these great sportsmen and women,” he added. “It’s terrific and it’ll probably be the last time I’m standing here as I’m running out of time.”

Nick thanked “everyone who’s helped me along the way”, including members of the public who contribute to funding Team GB by buying lottery tickets.

SPOTY would have topped an unbelievable year for Nick, who was also named FEI athlete of the year last month, won the British Showjumping award in October and took H&H‘s lifetime achievement award in November.

Asked by host Clare Balding what riding brought to her life, Sophie said she had started riding aged six, as therapy for her cerebral palsy.

“I’ve been really competitive all my life, and when I found a sport I could excel at, I wanted to be the best I could be,” she said.

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Only four equestrians have won the SPOTY award: AP McCoy in 2010, Zara Phillips (2006), Princess Anne (1971) and David Broome (1960), while Charlotte Dujardin finished fourth in 2014.

Andy Murray said: “It’s been an amazing year for British sport and I’m proud to have been part of it.”