SPOTY 2015: Tony McCoy honoured with Lifetime Achievement award

Tony McCoy pictured with his Lifetime Achievement award
Tony McCoy pictured with his Lifetime Achievement award

Tony McCoy was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony in Belfast on Sunday night.

The 20-times champion jockey, who retired in April, dominated the National Hunt scene, winning virtually every major prize during his career, including the Grand National, two Gold Cups, three Champion Hurdles and the Champion Chase.

The Ulsterman became the first jockey to be crowned Sports Personality of the Year in 2010 after claiming the Grand National at the 15th attempt when Don’t Push It struck for trainer Jonjo O’Neill and owner JP McManus.

Presented with his trophy by golfer Rory McIlroy and receiving a huge reception, McCoy said: “Can I just say what an honour and privilege it is to receive such a prestigious award, especially here in Belfast.

“Being from Northern Ireland, a place that has produced so many talented and successful sports people – none more so than the fellow on my right (McIlroy) – it makes tonight even more special.

“Racing is a wonderful sport, I was very lucky to live my life as a jockey through it, and for that I will be for ever grateful.

“There are so many people I would like to thank – I rode in nearly 18,000 races and I would like to thank the horses I was able to ride in those, because without them this wouldn’t be possible.

“I would like to thank the stable lads and lasses, who looked after them so well, they look after them better than you would ever believe.

“To the BBC for this, because this is amazing. And finally to any young people watching tonight’s show, or who are here this evening, all I can say is ‘make the sacrifices, because it is worth it’.

“Thank you very much.”

A total of 4,357 career winners were banked since he first struck gold with Legal Steps at Thurles in March 1992, with Capard King giving him a final triumph at Ayr on April 17. He did, however, return for a one-off ride on the Flat at Doncaster in September, winning the ‘Leger Legends’ race on Gannicus.

He set reams of records during his time, most notably posting an incredible 289 winners in the 2001-2 season, surpassing Sir Gordon Richards’ long-standing record of 269 victories in the process.

He now enjoys a regular role as a pundit for Channel 4 Racing, while ‘Being AP’, a documentary of his life in the saddle, premiered last month and has been widely acclaimed.

Meanwhile, West Belfast youth football coach Damien Lindsay was crowned BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero for 2015.

The 44-year-old has played a huge role in his community through work with the St James Swifts Football Club.

Damien founded the club five years ago with the aim of helping to keep young people off the streets in a deprived part of his native city.

“There are people in our team who would have been in jail were it not for Damien,” said club member Joseph McCall.

“At one of our first ever training sessions, people came on to the pitch and shot at us and at that stage, we were wondering who was going to want to work with us.”