SPOTY 2016 Betting: Retiring could turn Jessica Ennis-Hill into a contender at a big price

Silver star . . . Jessica Ennis-Hill flying the flag in Rio
Silver star . . . Jessica Ennis-Hill flying the flag in Rio
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Britain's Olympic stars are on the streets of Manchester today celebrating their summer successes. Ralph Ellis has his eye on one who could be a big price SPOTY contender...

"Jess is [80.0] for the top award, but I’m much more interested in backing her at a current price of [15.0] to be voted into the top three."

There were 27 Gold medals in Team GB's haul from two sparkling weeks of the Rio Olympic Games, and another astonishing 64 in the Paralympics that followed. They are celebrating every one of them on Monday around the streets of Manchester.

But in a month or two's time, when the telephone lines open for voting on the Sports Personality of the Year, I just wonder whether it will be one of the 62 silvers shared by the two British teams which will shine brightest of all.

On a cold evening in December, when we sit in front of the fire wallowing in the TV memories of an amazing sporting year, the end of Jessica Ennis-Hill's career will be a story to tug on the heartstrings. The face of the Games in London in 2012, she returned at the age of 30 to defend her heptathlon title.

And yes, she didn't achieve it. But it took five personal bests in seven events by Belgian's Nafi Thiam to stop her, as across two days of intense competition Jess defied the experts who thought becoming a mother would make it impossible for her to be competitive at that level.

Andy Murray is not surprisingly the [3.35] favourite in the current betting for SPOTY and if he can overhaul Novak Djokovic to be World Number One by the end of the year it would strengthen his position even further.

There are no shortage of strong contenders to the coveted BBC prize, with triathlon gold medallist Alistair Brownlee second favourite at [3.95] and Mo Farah [7.6], Anthony Joshua [8.0] and Laura Trott [14.0] also great contenders.

Jess is [80.0] for the top award, but I'm much more interested in backing her at a current price of [15.0] to be voted into the top three. Back in 2012 she polled nearly 400,000 votes to finish second behind Tour de France winner and Time Trial gold medallist Bradley Wiggins and I think there could be every bit as much emotional power when the phone lines open this time too.

The point about SPOTY is that you have to consider that bit of emotion. You have to think about the audience profile. And just as BBC viewers are capable of producing the sort of barmy vote that has sent Naga Munchetty out of Strictly Come Dancing while terminally wooden Ed Balls is still in there, so they don't always follow the strictest of sporting logic when it comes to reaching for the phone a few weeks before Christmas.

Announcing her retirement has given Jess an extra pull on the heartstrings. She may be just 5ft 4ins tall but she's been a giant when it comes to being a role model. For the many mums who will watch SPOTY, her achievement in following a world title within 13 months of giving birth by going so close to Olympic Gold a year later will be an inspiration.

I thought back in August that some wedding bells would make Laura Trott the girl to get the female vote, but she and Jason Kenny snuck off to tie the knot in a secret ceremony. And while the Instagram pictures they later released were lovely, they somehow failed to hit the national news agenda as they might have done.

That leaves Jess, who will be pictured a thousand times today with that 1,000 kilowatt smile, as the golden girl of 2016. Even if she did only take silver.

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