Leeds Beckett graduate wins second place at BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards
Leeds Rhinos legend and Leeds Beckett MA Sport Business graduate Kevin Sinfield, the first ever rugby league player to be nominated for the award, finished as runner up behind Andy Murray, who guided Britain to a first Davis Cup victory for 79 years.
Sinfield, who is the highest points-scorer in the club’s history and the top points-scorer of the Super League era, ended his 521 game Leeds Rhinos career as Leeds completed a record-breaking treble in 2015. He finished with 3,968 points including 1,832 goals before switching codes to play for rugby union side Yorkshire Carnegie.
Sinfield won 28% of the votes on the night, finishing ahead of heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill with 8% of the votes and behind Andy Murray with 35% of the 1,009,498 votes cast.
Speaking at the awards, Sinfield said: "It is absolutely awesome to have been named runner up in the Sports Personality of the Year awards. It's been an unbelievable year and I am eternally grateful for everyone who has voted tonight, to everyone at Leeds and also the wider game. For rugby league this took us to a different level tonight and in terms of growing our sport and inspiring young people to pick up a rugby ball and go play rugby league hopefully tonight will have some impact on that.
"I would just like to thank everyone who has voted and I understand the tribal nature of team sports but thank you to players and fans of other clubs and rugby league is certainly the winner tonight. It is quite uncomfortable winning an individual award when you have spent your whole life chasing team trophies and I would like to dedicate this to the rest of the Rhinos and more importantly to the whole of rugby league. What we have been able to do tonight and certainly what Lizzie Jones did has been inspiring. It is great for our sport which has given me everything and that I love and will continue to love for the rest of my life. What a special night and even better that I get to share it with some terrific team mates."
England and Manchester City defender Lucy Bronze was also named on the SPOTY shortlist, after helping England win a bronze medal at the World Cup. Lucy graduated from Leeds Beckett in 2013 after studying BSc (Hons) Sports Studies and was one of England's star players as they beat Germany to finish third at the World Cup in Canada. Bronze is the first female footballer to be nominated for the award and was named in the FIFA All-Star squad after the World Cup, having scored the winner against Norway in the last 16 and headed the second goal against Canada in the quarter final.
Sinfield and Bronze are just two of a growing list of high-profile graduates from Leeds Beckett. Piers Agget and Kesi Dryden from the award-winning dance act Rudimental, lead singer of the Kaiser Chiefs Ricky Wilson, Olympic gold medal athlete Alistair Brownlee and London 2012 Olympic torch designer Edward Barber also studied at the University.