In this penultimate instalment of the series, Kureen gracefully glides towards the upper echelon of the British sporting elite.
A world-class batsman, inspirational captain, brilliant fielder and tidy, albeit reluctant, medium paced bowler, Hammond appeared in 85 Test matches, compiling an at the time Test record individual score of 336 not out, despite losing years of his career to the second World War.
In addition to his cricketing prowess, Hammond made a handful of appearance as right winger for Bristol Rovers, but in spite of his obvious footballing talent only had eyes for cricket. A glittering 20 year international career finally ended at the age of 43, although a rivalry with the legendary Sir Donald Bradman bred a life-long inferiority complex.
19: Tony McCoy
The 2010 BBC sports personality of the year has won 19 consecutive Champion Jockey titles, and more than 4,300 races all told.
Particularly adept at riding poor horses to unlikely victories, McCoy continues to excel into his 40’s, showing no sign of retiring from the saddle any time soon. At 5’10” he also stands considerably taller than most jockeys, making his success all the more improbable.
18: Johnny Wilkinson
Kicking the winning drop goal for England at the 2003 Rugby World Cup made Surrey born Wilkinson an instant national icon at the tender age of 23.
Injuries blighted his career throughout, but he still managed to play 91 Tests and score a record 1,169 points for his country. He represented Newcastle Falcons with distinction for 12 years, before a 5-year spell in France with Toulon culminated with Wilkinson leading his team to two cup final wins in his final brace of competitive appearances.
Laker’s long-standing first-class bowling record analysis of 19 for 90, achieved against Australia in 1956, is unlikely to be bettered, and amazingly came just weeks after the spin bowler had taken all ten wickets in an innings against the touring Australians in a warm up match against his county side Surrey.
A Yorkshireman, Laker never actually represented his native county due to settling in London following World War II, instead forming a deadly spin-combo with Tony Lock for both club and country. His record of 193 Test scalps at 21.57 apiece places him firmly among the great tweakers.
16: Dame Kelly Holmes
Inspired by Steve Ovett, Holmes began her competitive athletics career at the age of just 12, winning the British girl’s 1500m the following year. By 1988 she had turned her back on the sport to join the army, only returning to the track four years later.
A succession of debilitating injuries appeared to have denied Holmes gold medals at the major games, until in 2004, at the grand age of 34, she produced nerveless, perfectly paced runs to take gold in both the 800 and 1500 metre races. Holmes later admitted that she had contemplated suicide during the darker days, citing meditation as a practice that transformed her life.
15: Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean
Few sports people have ever come close to emulating the popularity of Torvill and Dean, who came to national prominence when they scored 12 perfect 6’s on their way to Olympic figure skating gold in Sarajevo in 1984.
Turning professional later that year (rules prohibited them from earning any money from skating if they wanted to perform at the Olympics), the duo choreographed a series of successful musical shows on ice, before returning to the pro arena a decade later to take bronze in Lillehammer.
14: Sir Christopher Hoy
The most decorated cyclist of all-time is an 11-time World champion, six-time Olympic champion, and Britain’s most successful Olympian, leading team GB out for the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.
A legendary sprint cyclist, Hoy’s individual success carried over into team cycling, where he represented various teams, most notably ‘Team Sky’ in 2008. Never one to rest on his laurels, the Edinburgh born 39 year-old turned his attention to motor sport in 2014, belatedly announcing his intention to compete for Nissan at 24 hours of Le Mans in 2016.
13: Sir Bobby Charlton
The creative catalyst for England’s 1966 World Cup glory remains one of the world’s most beloved sporting figures almost half a century after his career zenith.
The 1958 Munich air disaster deprived Manchester United of a slew of their exciting ‘Busby Babes’ squad, with Charlton himself considering retiring from the game due to the trauma. Thankfully for United and England he didn’t, going on to become one of the finest number tens the world has ever seen, with the Ballon d’Or awarded to him at the end of the same year that he held the Jules Rimet trophy aloft.
12: Daley Thompson
At a time when the original A-Team was in its prime Britain boasted its own action man in Daley Thompson, a muscle-bound decathlon competitor who struck gold at both the 1980 and 1984 Olympic games, breaking the world record for the event on four separate occasions.
That his feats often go overlooked in the nation’s sporting annals is possibly testament to a lack of perceived conformity, most notably when Thompson whistled his way through the national anthem whilst stood atop the podium in Los Angeles in ’84.
11: Sir Ben Ainslie
The most successful Olympic sailor of all-time, Ainslie won silver at his first games in 1996, aged just 19, this would be his last time tasting defeat on the grandest stage, with gold following at the next five Olympics to go alongside his 11 World titles.
More recently Ainslie was hailed as the mastermind behind Oracle Team USA’s stunning comeback to win the 2013 America’s Cup 9-8, the Brit providing an unlikely remedy to the team’s warring crew and hefty fines as they turned around a seemingly insurmountable 8-1 deficit.
Tomorrow we delve into the top 10. Who made it? Who missed out? Why the need for so many questions in the closing paragraph? All will be revealed tomorrow.