Sports Personality of the Year 2013

The Copenhagen Post’s three main sports contributors, Ben Hamilton, Christian Wenande and Chris Jones, have chosen the five Danish sportspeople who have impressed them the most this year. Who will be hailed as The Copenhagen Post’s Sports Personality of the Year 2013? The competition was fierce, but in the end only one sportsperson made all three lists.

On our sports page, we try to avoid the insular news, be it the domestic handball results or those peculiar one-day cycling races, and concentrate on developments that might make international ripples.
A lot of it is still dull, of course. Our research has shown that our core group of international readers are going to shun most Danish sports news – after all, you’re not going to grow up supporting your local football team only to switch your allegiance to FCK once you move here.

But that doesn’t stop us trying. And by primarily planning our coverage according to the international calendar, instead of just waiting for Danes to win things, we hope to – at the very least – keep you clued up about what’s coming up in the sporting world.

Even if it is for the briefest of seconds (“Oh yeah, World Cup draw tomorrow”) as you flick on to the next page.

My top five are …

5. Peter Herbild
There’s no way we could write a review of the year without mentioning the Copenhagen Towers’ first Mermaid Bowl since 1995. And while safety Magnus Bitsch had a great season, winning MVP in the bowl itself, our vote has to go to Peter Herbild, whose side has improved steadily since he took over in 2009.

4. Rikke Møller Pedersen
Following a disappointing Olympics, the women’s swimming team is impressing again, with Jeanette Ottesen and Lotte Friis thriving under new national coach Nick Juba. However, his star pupil of 2013 was Rikke Møller Pedersen, who this summer set a world record in the 200-metre breaststroke – Denmark’s first in long-course swimming for 61 years.

3. Thomas Bjørn
Nobody will dispute that two-time major winner Sandy Lyle is one of Europe’s best ever golfers, but he is just one of many to fade away in his 30s – his last European Tour win came aged 34. Thomas Bjørn, however, is still going strong at the ripe old age of 42 and showing no signs of decline. He won two more European Tour events this year – the Omega European Masters in September and Nedbank Golf Challenge in December – to reach a world ranking of 24. Expect to see him in next year’s Ryder Cup, and who knows, maybe the links specialist will be in the reckoning at the British Open again.

2. Jakob Fuglsang
Cyclists tend to peak at the age of 30. Miguel Indurain was 27-31 when he won his five Tour de Frances, and Lance Armstrong 27-33 when he cheated to win his. Jakob Fuglsang, seventh in this year’s tour, is 28. His achievement was unexpected as he didn’t start the tour as the team leader of Astana, which he joined before the start of last season. But when Janez Brajkovic crashed out on the fifth stage, he seized the opportunity. With 2014 likely to see Vincenzo Nibali race in France as Astana’s team leader, don’t expect to see Fuglsang challenging for yellow just yet. But now he has shown he can compete, it won’t be long.

1. Kevin Magnussen
It was with enormous pride that we noted Kevin Magnussen will race in Formula One next season, because he is a driver that we had already written three profile features prior to the news, such was our belief that he would succeed. The first, ‘The young Dane in pole position to get a Formula One ride’, was back in February 2012, and since then we have followed his career closely – particularly this season as he dominated and won the Formula Renault 3.5 championship, showing remarkable poise and maturity in the process. Still only 21, he is the first Dane in history who could seriously win F1. At the very least, he should better his country’s record of only winning one point in 36 races. It is worth bearing in mind that a team like McLaren, having endured its worst season since 1966, would have written off 2013 a long time ago and been gearing towards 2014 ever since, giving them a serious head-start on rivals like Red Bull. So it is not completely unrealistic to expect Magnussen to make a similar impression to the one made by Lewis Hamilton in his debut season in 2007, when he finished second. Sebastian Vettel will still win, though. The German drivers always do.