SPOTY winner Ben Stokes: I don’t want 2019 to end

BBC Sports Personality of the Year winner Ben Stokes reflected on an “awesome” 2019 and admitted: “It’s a shame 2020 has to start.”

The England all-rounder won the public vote for the prestigious prize in Aberdeen on Sunday night, with six-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and 200 metres world champion Dina Asher-Smith second and third respectively.

Stokes enjoyed a simply sensational summer in 2019, with his unbeaten 84 helping England set up a Super Over in the World Cup final against New Zealand, in which he came out to bat again as the hosts secured their first-ever 50-over world title.

On its own that would have put him in contention for Sports Personality honours, but his astounding 135 not out to win the third Ashes Test at Headingley just over a month later made him the overwhelming favourite.

His individual honour topped a great night for English cricket, with the World Cup-winning side picking up the Team of the Year award while the success at Lord’s was also chosen as the Greatest Sporting Moment of the Year.

Stokes said: “2019 will be very hard to top and wipes away anything that happened in the year before that.

“As a person, and along with a lot of people, I’ll be able to look back on 2019 with amazing memories.

“We won Moment of the Year – everyone will always be able to look back at that and remember where they were for that. We were lucky that we were on the field to be a part of that. 2019 has just been awesome – it’s a shame 2020 has to start!

“Walking away with three awards representing cricket just shows how successful we have been. We don’t just sit there and go ‘we want to win three awards’ – they come from you doing stuff on the field.

“The amount of new fans we’ve brought to the game, the amount of inspiring we’ve done for the next generation of England cricketers has just been amazing and we’re just very proud that we’ve been able to do that.”

Stokes will now link up with the England Test squad for the four-match series in South Africa which starts on Boxing Day.

Asher-Smith was delighted to have finished third and seemingly even more happy that her coach John Blackie – who she has worked with since the age of eight – was chosen as Coach of the Year.

“It’s been an absolutely fantastic night for athletics, I’m really happy with third and John getting an award as well is absolutely amazing. He’s not only coach of the year this year, but every year,” she said.

“I honestly think that he truly deserves it because he’s completely selfless. He’s a very intelligent and patient man and he’s been patient enough to see me progress since I was eight. I’m completely biased but I think he’s fantastic.”

Asked what the target might be for Asher-Smith at the Tokyo Olympics next summer after her 200m gold and 100m silver at the World Championships, Blackie said: “It would be nice to pick up one or two medals in Tokyo, to go there in top form, in the form that she’s capable of. We know there are things that can be done this year to improve on what she’s been doing up to now.

“It’s not easy because now we’re on the margins – it’s not the massive improvements it’s the small improvements.”

Wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, an 11-time Paralympic gold medal winner and six-time London Marathon champion, received the Lifetime Achievement award.

Former Scotland rugby international Doddie Weir received the Helen Rollason award for his work in raising money to fund research into motor neurone disease.

Weir, who won 61 caps for his country, was diagnosed with the condition in 2016.

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