By Rob Cole
Not for the first time Gareth Bale found himself playing second fiddle to a rugby player named as Welsh Sports Personality of the Year.
Two years ago it was a rather embarrassed Dan Biggar who picked up the prize ahead of the Wales and Real Madrid superstar at the Wales Sport Awards.
This time, it was Jonathan Davies who took the title from a shortlist that once again included the 2017 Champions League winner.
It meant Davies was able to follow in the footsteps of fellow Wales and British & Irish Lions star Leigh Halfpenny in winning the award in a Lions year.
Halfpenny took the title four years ago after the Sam Warburton led Lions won their first series in 16 years in Australia.
This time it was the Scarlets centre who built on being voted the Lions’ player of the series in New Zealand as he scooped one of the top awards in Welsh sport following the drawn series against the All Blacks.
It was a considerable boost for Davies at the end of the 2017 Under Armour Series, in which he picked up a season ending injury against the Wallabies in the opening game.
That brought to an end another exceptional year for the 29-year-old, who was one of the stand-out performers in both domestic and international rugby.
He began the 2017 Six Nations with a try in Wales’ opening 33-7 win over Italy, steered the Scarlets to a 46-22 Guinness PRO12 title in Dublin, scoring one of their six tries in the final win over Munster, and then he played every minute of the three Tests against the All Blacks to make it six internationals in a row for the Lions on two tours.
“Thank you very much to everyone who voted, it means a lot, especially with the number of successes in Welsh sport. I’ve had a lot of fun this year,” said Davies, who was unable to attend the ceremony at the Celtic Manor Resort because his leg is still in plaster.
Davies won from a short-list that once again included the 2010 winner Gareth Bale, world champion cyclist Elinor Barker, world champion para-athlete Aled Sion Davies, world No 1 judoka Natalie Powell and Tour de France stage winner Geraint Thomas.
Former Olympic athlete and Wales rugby international Nigel Walker chaired a judging panel that also included Brian Davies, Sarah Thomas, Steve James and Nathan Blake.
Cardiff Devils won the ‘Team of the Year’ title after winning ice hockey’s 2016-17 Elite League and Challenge Cup, while the 17-year-old Wales and Liverpool forward Ben Woodburn carried off the coveted ‘Carwyn James Young Sportsman of the Year’ award with weightlifter Catrin Jones taking the ‘Young Sportswoman’ crown.
Christian Malcolm was named as the ‘Coach of the Year’ for his role in steering the British 4 x 100 metre relay squad to a stunning gold medal, and European record, at the World Championships in London.
There was also a special award for the former Wales rugby union and rugby league captain David Watkins, who received his award from another legendary outside half, Phil Bennett.
Volunteer of the Year: Fateha Ahmed (Swimming, Cardiff)
Inspiring Young Person of the Year: Hannah Nolan (Multi-Sport, Llandudno)
Organisation of the Year: Disability Sport Wales
Sporting Experience of the Year: Us Girls
Community Coach of the Year: Mark James (Boxing, Newport)
WELSH SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS
1954 Ken Jones; 1955 John Disley; 1956 Joe Erskine; 1957 Dai Rees; 1958 Howard Winstone; 1959 Graham Moore; 1960 Brian Curvis; 1961 Bryn Meredith; 1962 Ivor Allchurch; 1963 Howard Winstone; 1964 Lynn Davies; 1965 Clive Rowlands; 1966 Lynn Davies; 1967 Howard Winstone; 1968 Martyn Woodroffe; 1969 Tony Lewis; 1970 David Broome; 1971 John Dawes / Wales Rugby Team / Welsh Lions; 1972 Richard Meade; 1973 Berwyn Price; 1974 Gareth Edwards; 1975 Arfon Griffiths; 1976 Mervyn Davies / Wales Grand Slam Team; 1977 Phil Bennett; 1978 Johnny Owen; 1979 Terry Griffiths; 1980 Duncan Evans; 1981 John Toshack; 1982 Steve Barry; 1983 Colin Jones; 1984 Ian Rush; 1985 Steve Jones; 1986 Kirsty Wade; 1987 Ian Woosnam; 1988 Colin Jackson; 1989 Stephen Dodd; 1990 Ian Woosnam; 1991 Ian Woosnam; 1992 Tanni Grey; 1993 Colin Jackson; 1994 Steve Robinson; 1995 Neville Southall; 1996 Ryan Giggs; 1997 Scott Gibbs; 1998 Iwan Thomas; 1999 Colin Jackson; 2000 Tanni Grey-Thompson; 2001 Joe Calzaghe; 2002 Mark Hughes; 2003 Nicole Cooke; 2004 Tanni Grey-Thompson; 2005 Gareth Thomas; 2006 Joe Calzaghe; 2007 Joe Calzaghe; 2008 Shane Williams; 2009 Ryan Giggs; 2010 Gareth Bale; 2011 Chaz Davies; 2012 Jade Jones; 2013 Leigh Halfpenny; 2014 Geraint Thomas; 2015 Dan Biggar; 2016 Jade Jones; 2017 Jonathan Davies.