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Chrissie Wellington Boycotting BBC Event Over Men’s Only List

Wellington has called on others to boycott the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.

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Photo: Nils Nilsen

Four-time Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington has called on fellow sportswomen to boycott the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards next month in protest at the all-male shortlist for the end-of-year prize.

She is so incensed at the decision not to nominate a single woman to the 10-strong shortlist that she intends to turn down an invitation to attend the awards ceremony in Salford on Dec 22 and hopes other top female athletes will follow her example and “vote with their feet”.

“They have already invited me but I’m not going to go,” said Wellington. “I would like it to create a snowball effect because that would mean a message would be sent to them.”

Wellington is one of a number of female world champions who were overlooked on the list, which was compiled from nominations submitted by 27 national and regional newspapers and magazines.

Those who made the cut included the bookmakers’ favorites, cyclist Mark Cavendish, golfer Darren Clarke and track athlete Mo Farah, as well as more controversial choices such as boxer Amir Khan and tennis player Andy Murray, neither of whom enjoyed spectacular success in 2011.

But there was no place for any of the British women who conquered the world this year. Along with Wellington, swimmers Rebecca Adlington and Keri-Anne Payne, triathlete Helen Jenkins, taekwondo fighter Sarah Stevenson and the rowing duo of Katharine Grainger and Anna Watkins were also snubbed.

Wellington insists the shortlist in no way reflects the best achievements in British sport by men or women, and is particularly incensed by the way BBC presenter Gary Lineker justified the all-male list by claiming 2011 “has not been as strong for women”.

“For Gary Lineker to turn round and say that perhaps it hasn’t been a great year for women in sport is simply insulting,” she said.

Wellington said boycotting the awards ceremony had nothing to do with her own disappointment at failing to make the shortlist but was about the wider issue of women in sport.

“It’s not about narcissism on my part,” she said. “It’s not about seeing my name in lights because if I wanted that I would have had a sex change and taken up football.”

Read more: Telegraph.co.uk