LONDON • British triathlon star Alistair Brownlee has admitted his surprise that Mo Farah yet again failed to make the top three of the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year (Spoty) on Sunday, and suggested it might be because "some people don't see him as British".
Brownlee said he would have voted for Farah, who came fourth in the annual awards despite retaining his Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m titles in Rio, and felt it was "really sad" that the long-distance star did not get the respect his success deserved.
"Mo's achievements are incredible and what stands out about them is that no one from this country has ever done them before," Brownlee said.
"There is a good chance that no one will again. It's not like someone does it every year - it is a one-off in what are two very competitive, blue-riband athletic events."
Brownlee, who finished second behind Andy Murray on Sunday night, was also flabbergasted that Farah had finished in the top three of Spoty only once, in 2011.
"It doesn't necessarily help if you're not there on the night," he said. "Maybe some people don't see him as British. He trains abroad, too.
"It's really sad because for me, he is the perfect British story. It's what we should be about: A person who comes to Britain as a young man, as a refugee, and an ex-schoolteacher identifies something that he's brilliant at and he represents Britain as the best in the world. That's a fantastic British story."
BRITISH SUCCESS STORY
For me, he is the perfect British story... a person who comes to Britain as a young man, as a refugee, and an ex-schoolteacher identifies something that he's brilliant at and he represents Britain as the best in the world.
ALISTAIR BROWNLEE , British triathlete, on why Mo Farah (above) should be celebrated as a great British athlete.
Farah's case was also supported by the 58-year-old showjumper Nick Skelton, who finished third on Sunday night.
"I would have voted for Mo," he said. "What he's done is amazing hard work, flogging his body to win all those double golds."
Despite not getting any recognition, Farah has said that he is not done yet.
He added that he still has unfinished business with the marathon but accepts it will take time to master the distance when he steps away from the track after next season's World Championships.
He ran a relatively disappointing 2hr 8min 21sec in his only marathon, in London in 2014. That time is still more than five minutes outside Dennis Kimetto's 2:02.57 world record.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS