Nick Skelton has told H&H he is “amazed” by the support he’s received after his gold medal-winning performance at Rio 2016, especially by the calls for him to be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
A SPOTY campaign has quickly gathered on social media, with equestrian fans and supporters posting “#skelfies” with Nick.
Even 20-time champion jump jockey Sir AP McCoy is backing Nick for the accolade.
Nick told H&H: “It’s fantastic the support I’m getting from people young and old; and even from Sir AP. It would be an honour for showjumping.”
At 58 years old Nick became Britain’s second-oldest Olympic gold medallist when he won the individual showjumping at Rio last week (Friday 19 August). The only person older was Joshua Millner, who was 61 when he took shooting gold in 1908. Nick’s victory was also Team GB’s first individual showjumping medal since 1972 when Anne Moore won silver.
“Nick is as good a showjumper as there’s ever been,” said AP in his William Hill blog today (Tuesday 23 August).
“To go to seven Olympic Games and win gold with possibly his last chance is an incredible feat. If I could pick one person, I would love to see Nick Skelton win Sports Personality of the Year. I’ve known him a long time and have always thought he’s a brilliant rider. I have great respect for him. He’s very gifted.”
Nick made his Olympic debut in 1988 and missed only one, Sydney 2000, after he broke his neck. He was forced to retire from showjumping in 2001, but after recovering he returned to the sport in 2002.
Forty-two-year-old AP, who retired in April 2015, joked: “With Nick winning a gold medal at the age of 58, I was thinking maybe I retired too early. Could I go for a career switch? I wouldn’t mind riding Big Star.”
But it’s a tough year for SPOTY. Brits won 67 medals in 15 different sports at Rio, finishing second in the medal table behind the USA.
AP, who was crowned SPOTY in 2010, thinks that tennis star Andy Murray is likely to take the award, for a third time.
“I’d like to see Nick win Sports Personality, but who do I think will win it? Andy Murray is favourite and if he hadn’t already won it twice, I’d say he was a good thing,” he continued.
“Maybe he deserves to win it again though, winning Wimbledon and Olympic gold in the same year.”
Nick is currently a 50/1 shot with the bookmakers. Andy Murray is favourite at 11/10 and Mo Farah is 2/1.
Gold medal-winning dressage star Charlotte Dujardin also has a slot in the bookmakers’ odds at 100/1.
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AP is one of just four riders to have won a SPOTY, alongside David Broome in 1960, Princess Anne in 1971 and Zara Phillips in 2006.