World boxing champion Carl Frampton is the real surprise omission despite continuing his remarkable unbeaten professional record with a stunning victory over Leo Santa Cruz in Las Vegas in the summer.
There are also no places for Paralympic gold medal winner Bethany Firth or Larne’s Jonathan Rea, who again won the Superbike World Championship.
Andy Murray heads up the 16-strong shortlist for the awards which will be announced in Birmingham on December 18.
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After winning his second Wimbledon title and finishing the tennis year ranked world number one, Murray is the strong favourite to be crowned the first three-time winner in the show’s history.
Thirteen gold medallists from the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics are included on an extended shortlist, up from 12 nominations for both the 2012 and 2015 awards.
The three non-Olympians or Paralympians to be nominated are footballers Gareth Bale and Jamie Vardy, and Masters golf champion Danny Willett.
Champion cycling couple Jason and Laura Kenny are both nominated while at the age of 58, Nick Skelton becomes the oldest athlete to feature on the show’s published shortlist.
The shortlist was drawn up by a panel consisting of media representatives and sports stars including Ryan Giggs and Victoria Pendleton.
Among the notable omissions from the list are Tour de France winner Chris Froome and IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
While the bookmakers make Murray a strong odds-on favourite, Alistair Brownlee will also have his supporters after retaining his Olympic title then hitting the headlines for helping ailing brother Jonny over the finish line at a Triathlon World Series race in Mexico in September.
Max Whitlock became the first British gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal when he won both the floor and pommel disciplines in Rio, while Kadeena Cox won Paralympic gold medals in both cycling and sprinting, becoming the first British Paralympian in 32 years to win golds in multiple disciplines.
The full list is: Nicola Adams (boxing); Gareth Bale (football); Alistair Brownlee (triathlon); Sophie Christiansen (equestrian); Kadeena Cox (athletics/cycling); Mo Farah (athletics); Jason Kenny (cycling); Laura Kenny (cycling); Andy Murray (tennis); Adam Peaty (swimming); Kate Richardson-Walsh (hockey); Nick Skelton (equestrian); Dame Sarah Storey (cycling); Jamie Vardy (football); Max Whitlock (gymnastics); Danny Willett (golf).