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BBC Sports Personality of the Year list criticised over lack of women

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BBC Sports Personality of the year logo

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Some of Britain's leading sportswomen have hit out at the lack of females on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist announced yesterday.

The list of ten contenders, including golfer Rory McIlroy, tennis star Andy Murray and England Cricket captain Andrew Strauss, was selected by a panel of 27 sports editors from national and regional newspapers and magazines.

However, the absence of female sporting stars on the shortlist has led to an angry reaction on Twitter.

Swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who was among those to miss out, tweeted: "There's been some great sportswomen like Keri-Anne Payne, it's sad they are not recognised. Hopefully next year can be all women nominations after London 2012."

This marks the first time since the Sports Personality of the Year voting was changed in 2006 that there has not been a single woman on the shortlist.

Equestrian Zara Phillips won the award that year, while Adlington and Jessica Ennis have since placed third in the prestigious competition.

Adlington, who won gold in the 800m at the World Swimming Championships in China earlier this year, is understood to have gained six votes, just behind Amir Khan, who made it on to the list.

Fellow swimmer Payne, the 10k open water gold medallist at this year's World Championships, secured just five votes.

Another person not to make it on to the shortlist was Chrissie Wellington, who won her fourth Ironman world championship title in October.

Also posting on Twitter, Wellington described the lack of women as "disgraceful".

She tweeted: "No women in @bbcspoty top ten. Its not about me, its about the need to celebrate achievements of so many female GBR athletes. Disgraceful. (sic)"

Gail Emms, who won silver in mixed doubles badminton at the 2004 Olympics, called for a change in the way the shortlist is compiled.

"Where are our World Champion women?" she said on Twitter.

"Think that sportsmen and women should vote. Get the true feelings of the athletes who know what it's like to win medals and be number one."

Paralympic champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said that she would not want "tokensim" on the list, but she feels that the lack of female stars was down to coverage of women's sport.

"I wouldn't want tokenism and I wouldn't want a woman to be on the list just because she was a woman," she told the BBC.

"But I think you just look at where the nominations have come from and that highlights another problem really - only 2% of media coverage in sport goes to women.

"Women just aren't on the minds, whether it's editors or in some case producers, it's just not there... you're fighting against the system all the time where it's the big sports all the time that get the recognition."

Meanwhile, there has also been a grassroots campaign for Wales manager Gary Speed to be honoured at the Sports Personality of the Year event after he died at the weekend.

Hosted by Gary Lineker, Sue Barker and Jake Humphrey, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year will be aired on BBC One live from Salford on December 22 at 8pm.

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