The 2022 edition of BBC Sports Sports Personality of the Year will be an awkward affair if seven-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan bags the top prize.
Snooker star O'Sullivan is one of six athletes to have made the final shortlist for this year's SPOTY award, which will be handed out in Salford on Wednesday evening. However, the 47-year-old has in the past been vocal in his criticism of the event and said he's not interested in attending.
“I'm so happy I don't get nominated because I never would want to go,” said O'Sullivan in 2017. “It's not my type of thing - standing around at some gathering. It's not my scene and I really hope I never get nominated.”
Despite dazzling in his field for much of the 21st century to date, it wasn't until 2020 that O'Sullivan received his first nomination to win Sports Personality of the Year. That came in the wake of his sixth World Championship win at the Crucible Theatre, by which point he'd already been open in his distaste.
Prior to O'Sullivan's summons, no snooker player had been nominated for the prize since 1990. However, Steve Davis remains the only athlete from the sport to have won the BBC gong following his triumph in 1988.
“You’re competing with Formula One, tennis, golf and the Olympics," O'Sullivan said in 2016. "They give it like 10 seconds on BBC Sports Personality - it’s a complete insult to the sport. But it’s what they think of it and what they believe it warrants, and that says it all really.
"Snooker is becoming a nothing-type sport – it’s a bit like a garage sale, but with other sports it’s like shopping at Harrods. They’re playing so much of it, it’s cheap TV. I think snooker has lost that respect among other sports – the Olympics are such a massive thing now as are sports like golf and tennis."
This year may be The Rocket's best chance to win SPOTY before hanging up his cue, with suspicions growing that he could retire in the coming years. There's not a trophy O'Sullivan hasn't earned on the baize, but he's shown very little interest in taking home Sports Personality of the Year.
England cricket captain Ben Stokes and Euro 2022 champion Beth Mead are among the frontrunners to be named winners on Wednesday. Gymnast Jessica Gadirova, curler Eve Muirhead and runner Jake Wightman are also still in contention for the prize, which was won by tennis star Emma Raducanu last year.