Olympic gold medalists Alistair Brownlee and Nick Skelton expressed their surprise British athletics legend Mo Farah was again snubbed by the public for the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Brownlee, who retained his Olympic title in Rio and also gained widespread respect for helping his ailing younger brother Jonny across the line in a triathlon in Mexico this year, finished runner-up to Andy Murray in the poll with Skelton, who won showjumping gold at the venerable age of 58, in third.
For Murray — who garnered almost 250,000 votes over double the total of Brownlee — it was a historic third BBC award.
Farah — despite emulating Finnish icon Lasse Viren (1972/76) as the only athlete to do the Olympic distance double twice (5000/10000 metres) — finished way behind in terms of the popular vote in fourth.
Skelton — whose sport gets barely any mainstream coverage apart from the Olympics — received just over 109 000 votes with the much higher profile Farah getting only 54 476.
Both Brownlee and Skelton said they would have voted for him with the former saying Farah’s personal story was remarkable being brought to Britain from war-torn Somalia as a young child.
“I’m not sure why that is that he hasn’t made the top three,” said Brownlee.
“Maybe some people don’t see him as British. 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-school teacher identifies something that he’s brilliant at and he represents Britain as the best in the world.
“I think that’s a fantastic British story. I would have voted for Mo.”
Farah’s best finish is third in the 2011 poll. He has filled fourth spot on two other occasions — including 2012 when he lit up the track in London to secure his first Olympic double — and sixth in 2015.