Daley and Peaty make SPOTY shortlist splash

13 Dec 2021

Adam Peaty and Tom Daley have seen their historic Olympic years rewarded with a place on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist for 2021. 

After a memorable 12 months for British sport, Adam and Tom - who both left Tokyo with gold medals to their name, further outlining their place as modern greats of their respective disciplines - are two of the six sportspeople up for the main prize at this Sunday's event, which will be live on BBC One from 6.45pm (19th December). 

The award will be decided by public vote, with more details on how to support the British Swimming pair here. The other nominees are US Open tennis champion Emma Raducanu, record-breaking Paralympian Sarah Storey - a former Paralympic swimming multi-medallist - boxer Tyson Fury and England footballer Raheem Sterling. 

In the pool, world-record holder Peaty became the first Brit to defend an Olympic swimming title, powering to victory in the Men's 100m Breaststroke. In the process, he extended an unbeaten run in the event to an eye-watering seven years, a few months after briefly holding all 20 of the fastest times in history. 

Adam Peaty Tokyo 2020 gold 100m Breaststroke
Adam Peaty

Breaststroke triumph was just the start for the Loughborough National Centre man, who then played a crucial role in helping Britain's Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay quartet secure gold and a new world record time in that maiden Olympic final, alongside Kathleen Dawson, James Guy and Anna Hopkin, with Freya Anderson contributing a fine freestyle leg in the heats. The Games were then finished with a silver for Peaty, Luke Greenbank, Guy and Duncan Scott in the Men's 4x100m Medley Relay. 

In short, the Mel Marshall-coached sprinter was one of the spearheads of a British Swimming outfit that clinched eight Olympic medals and solidified their place as one of the world's leading nations in the sport. On top of that, there was a historic quadruple quadruple at European Championship level, as he defended all four of his European gold medals once again at Budapest 2021. 

On the same day that Peaty was powering to his breaststroke gold, Tom Daley made his own piece of history in the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Thirteen years on from his Olympic debut at Beijing 2008 - when he was aged only 14 - the 27-year-old teamed up with synchro partner Matty Lee to deliver one of the moments of the Games in the Men's 10m Synchro.

The Dive London teammates were virtually flawless throughout their first five dives, meaning they held a slender lead over Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen of China going into the final round. 

Under immense pressure, Daley and Lee showed incredible composure to deliver their Forward 4 1/2 Somersaults Tuck (109C) in perfect synchronicity, earning 101.01 points and ultimately ending 1.3 points clear of their Chinese rivals. 

The celebrations that ensued, along with their coach Jane Figueiredo, were testament to the dedication that had gone into both of their differing journeys to the Olympic summit - but in Daley's fourth Games, there was a particular satisfaction for all British Diving fans. 

Matty Lee Jane Figueiredo Tom Daley 10m Synchro celebrations Tokyo 2020
Tom Daley (right) celebrates with Matty Lee and coach Jane Figueiredo

The Plymouth-born man was not finished, though, going on to claim a brilliant bronze in the Men's 10m Platform later in the meet. Those two medals were added to his individual 10m Platform bronze from London 2012 and the 10m Synchro bronze he claimed with Dan Goodfellow at Rio 2016, making him Britain's most successful Olympic diver in history - just ahead of teammate Jack Laugher on three, who also won a bronze, in the Men's 3m Springboard, at Tokyo 2020. Daley's remarkable 2021 also featured success at European and FINA Diving World Cup level with diving partner Lee.

The last aquatics athlete to finish in the Sports Personality of the Year top three was Rebecca Adlington in 2008, following her double Olympic success in Beijing. Anita Lonsborough was the last swimmer to win the award, back in 1962. 

Find out more about BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2021 HERE.