Britain’s 50 Greatest Sports Personalities Of 2012
50. Tom Sykes
Sport – Superbikes
British riders have a good historical record in the Superbike World Championship, with the likes of Carl Fogarty and James Toseland responsible for a handful of titles in the past.
There has been no British winner since 2007, however, and whilst it will remain this way for at least another year, Tom Sykes finished an impressive second in 2012’s championship after winning the season’s final race, agonisingly coming half a point behind Italian champion Max Biaggi in the final standings.
Coming second after having finished fourteenth and thirteenth in the two previous seasons, however, represents a huge improvement for the twenty seven year-old Yorkshireman, who finished on the podium in half of the season’s races and will be a strong contender for next year’s title if his run of form continues.
49. Zoe Smith
Sport – Weightlifting
Typically, when asked to paint a mental picture of a female weightlifter, the imagination conjures an image of a large and somewhat intimidating individual, which Zoe Smith comes across as the complete opposite of, though looks can be deceiving.
A gymnast in her youth, the eighteen year-old Smith made the switch to weightlifting several years ago, winning bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India in the -58kg category, which she was then selected to represent Britain at in the Olympics.
Though she was never in real contention for the medals, her efforts saw her set a new British clean and jerk record in a sport that has largely been ignored by Britons throughout the years, whilst she also achieved a respectable fourth place at the European Weightlifting Championships.
Part of 2012’s legacy will be how niche sports have been brought to the forefront of the public’s attention, and given Smith’s youth, she will be the poster girl for weightlifting in the years to come.