As she gears up to co-present another Sports Personality of the Year awards, Sue Barker tells us what moved her most during the year’s incredible sporting events…
It has been an amazing year of sport, how are you going to cram it into one show?
“Never mind a two-hour show – I think we need two days to cover everything that’s happened this year! It’s not just the Olympics, we’ve got the Ryder Cup, which was just unbelievable, and of course Bradley Wiggins and the Tour de France too. I couldn’t even begin to predict who’s going to win because we really are spoilt for choice.”
What was the highlight for you?
“I think I could pick about 20 of them, but the one that really stuck out and meant the most to me personally was Andy Murray winning the gold medal at the Olympic Games. I was sitting in the front row for that, normally I can’t get a ticket or I am stuck in my studio, but I was there in the front row and I have never ever seen anyone dismantle Roger Federer in that way. The manner in which he won those first two sets was just breathtaking.
“After what had happened at Wimbledon, having to stand there interviewing him on Centre Court while he was blubbing away was dreadful. I had a voice in my ear telling me to keep him talking and I was thinking, this poor guy I just want to put my arm around him and say it’s all right. So to go from that low to that high was just amazing.”
What other Olympic moments stood out for you?
“I’m a big track and field fan and when Mo Farah won his first gold that was just the most incredible 45 minutes I have ever seen, because you knew what it meant to Mo and for British sport. I was in floods of tears knowing what sacrifices he’d made to achieve that. Mo’s a lovely bloke and I thought he’s never going to do the double, because I watched him in the heats and he was absolutely finished; emotionally and physically gone. But he came out and just did it – and I was in bits again.
“Katherine Grainger was another big moment for me. Again I know her well and after seeing her tears in Beijing when she should’ve won gold but got silver instead, and then to carry on for four more years and finally win it, that’s true sportsmanship and dedication. Gary Herbert’s commentary during the race when he said ‘Dreams do come true’ set me off again – I think I spent the whole of the Olympics and Paralympics in tears!”
Did the Olympics change the sporting appetite of the nation?
“Yes, because now everyone is into a more diverse selection of sports rather than the obvious ones. I think we shouldn’t just be focusing on these minority sports every four years. I have definitely been pushing for more coverage all year round but obviously it’s all down to budgets and we are in an era of cut backs unfortunately.”
How will you feel when you walk out in front of the huge live audience for Sports Personality Of The Year ?
“Terrified. I mean I have walked out in front of thousands on Centre Court but this is so different, it’s incredibly nerve-wracking. I remember watching the awards when I was growing up – I was nominated in the 1970s and I started presenting it in the 1990s and this trophy means a huge amount to the sports stars because it’s voted for by the public.
“So Gary Lineker and I are in charge of this massive programme with this massive audience. No pressure then, eh? It’s the half an hour waiting to go on that’s the worst – we’ll be pacing up and down and trying to stay calm.”
Sports Personality of the Year is on Sunday December 16 at 7.30pm.