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Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Serena Williams, others nominated for 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards

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Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Serena Williams, others nominated for 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards

c ronaldaA glittering collection of the world’s greatest sports stars have been nominated for the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards, following a ballot by the world’s media.  Among the giants of sport who have been nominated are three-time Laureus winners Usain Bolt and Serena Williams, brilliant young Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel, short-listed for the fifth time, and Tiger Woods, who won in 2000, the inaugural year of Laureus, who is selected again after returning to the summit of world golf. Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva, both two-time Laureus winners, are nominated in two categories.

One of the most intriguing questions in this year’s contest is whether charismatic Real Madrid and Portugal footballer Cristiano Ronaldo or Miami Heat superstar LeBron James, both nominated, can become the first team player to win the individual Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award. In Action Sports, former winners, skateboarder Bob Burnquist and snowboarder Shaun White, are chosen again.

The 15th Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the calendar year 2013, is the premier honours event on the international sporting calendar. The winners, as voted by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time, will be unveiled at a globally televised Awards Ceremony staged in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday, March 26.

When the winners are revealed next month, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt could be celebrating a record-equalling fourth Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, after he won all three sprint events in the World Championships in Moscow in August. Up against him will be Germany’s remarkable Sebastian Vettel, who won his fourth straight Formula One World Championship at the age of just 26, Miami Heat’s LeBron James, voted NBA MVP for the fourth time in five years, Spain’s Rafael Nadal, winner of the French Open and US Open Grand Slams, Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 69 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal in 2013, and Britain’s Mo Farah, winner of the 5,000 and 10,000 metres double in Moscow.

There is a familiar look to the Nominations for Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, with Missy Franklin, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Serena Williams all selected for the second year. At 18, swimmer Missy Franklin won a record six gold medals in the World Championships, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce matched Usain Bolt to win all three sprint gold medals in Moscow and Serena Williams had another outstanding year, winning the French and US Opens. Also on the short list is Slovenia’s sensational skier Tina Maze, who won the Overall World Cup and three other disciplines, Yelena Isinbayeva, who won pole vault gold in the World Championships in front of her home Russian crowd, and Nadine Angerer, FIFA Women’s Player of the Year and captain of the German team that won the European Championship.

In the Laureus World Team of the Year category, Bayern Munich, winners of the UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup, are nominated along with New Zealand’s All Blacks, the first national rugby team to achieve a 100% record in the professional era, the Brazil Men’s Football Team, winners of the Confederations Cup, American twins Bob & Mike Bryan, who held all four Grand Slam doubles titles and the Olympic gold medal, Miami Heat, who won the NBA title for the second straight year, and Red Bull, winners of a fourth straight Formula One Constructors’ World Championship.

Spain’s Marc Márquez, youngest ever MotoGP world champion, at 20 years 266 days, is a popular Nominee for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award and there is much support for the Afghanistan Cricket Team, who learned cricket in refugee camps in Pakistan and have now reached their first ever World Cup finals. Also nominated are Colombia’s Nairo Quintana, the first Tour de France rookie to finish on the podium since 1996, golfers Justin Rose from England and Australia’s Adam Scott, who both won their first Major Championships, and Raphael Holzdeppe, who won Germany’s first ever World Championship pole vault gold medal.

Yelena Isinbayeva and Rafael Nadal have also been nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award. The other Nominees are golfer Tiger Woods, the US PGA Player of the Year, Oracle Team USA, who fought back from 8-1 down to win the America’s Cup, France’s Tony Parker, named MVP in basketball’s European Championship after recovering from a serious eye injury, and Ronaldinho, who, at 33, led unfashionable Brazilian football team Atlético Mineiro to victory in the Copa Libertadores.

The hottest competition is likely to be for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award, where the Nominees between them won an amazing 32 gold medals in world championship events in 2013. American wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden not only won six gold medals, but also won the four big city marathons – Boston, Chicago, London and New York. Also in wheelchair events, Switzerland’s Marcel Hug won five golds and a silver medal. Three swimmers are nominated after their World Championship performances: New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe, Norway’s Sarah Louise Rung and Ukraine’s Olga Sviderska. Also short-listed is French skier Marie Bochet, the first winner of all five disciplines at a single Alpine World Championships.

The Nominations for the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year include former winners Bob Burnquist, who secured a record 25th X-Games skateboard gold medal, and snowboarder Shaun White, who won a sixth consecutive X Games SuperPipe gold medal. They will be challenged by BMX star Jamie Bestwick, the only athlete in X Games history to win eight straight gold medals, Australia’s world surfing champion Mick Fanning, American surfer John John Florence, who scored a perfect 10 for completing the Alley Oop trick, and Brazil’s Maya Gabeira, who nearly drowned attempting to surf a 70ft wave in Portugal.

Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses said: “I have never seen such a potentially close contest in so many categories before. This is going to be a classic year. There is a wonderful balance between some of the great names who have dominated sport over many years and some exciting newcomers like Missy Franklin and Marc Márquez. I am especially thrilled by the line-up for the Disability Award, where you could make a case for any of the six to win. This is really the crème de la crème of sport and it is going to be an exciting night in Kuala Lumpur discovering which of these great athletes will receive Laureus Awards.”

The full list of Nominees for the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards is:

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
Usain Bolt (Jamaica) Athletics – won 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m World Championship gold medals
Mo Farah (UK) Athletics – won classic 5,000m and 10,000m double in World Championships
LeBron James (US) Basketball – Miami Heat star, voted NBA MVP for fourth time in five years
Rafael Nadal (Spain) Tennis – winner of French Open, US Open and five ATP Masters event
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Football – scored 69 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal in 2013
Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Motor Racing – won fourth straight Formula One World Championship

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year
Nadine Angerer (Germany) Football – FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, captain of German team
Missy Franklin (US) Swimming – at 18, won a record six gold medals in World Championships
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) Athletics – won three sprint gold medals in World Championships
Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) Athletics – won pole vault world title in front of home Russian crowd
Tina Maze (Slovenia) Skiing – won Overall World Cup and three other disciplines, plus Super G world title
Serena Williams (US) Tennis – won French Open and US Open, plus eight other tournaments in 2013

Laureus World Team of the Year
All Blacks (NZ) Rugby Union – first time a national team achieved a 100% record in professional era
Bayern Munich (Germany) Football – won Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble
Brazil Men’s Football Team – won Confederations Cup, beating World Cup holders Spain in final
Bob & Mike Bryan (US) Tennis – completed doubles ‘Golden Slam’ – four Grand Slams and Olympic gold
Miami Heat (US) Basketball – won NBA title for second straight year, beating San Antonio Spurs in final
Red Bull (Austria) Motor Racing – won fourth straight Formula One Constructors’ World Championship

Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year
Afghanistan Cricket Team – learned cricket in refugee camps, in 2013 reached first World Cup finals
Marc Márquez (Spain) Motor Cycling – youngest ever MotoGP world champion, at 20 years 266 days
Raphael Holzdeppe (Germany) Athletics – won Germany’s first World Championship pole vault gold
Nairo Quintana (Colombia) Cycling – first Tour de France rookie to finish on the podium since 1996
Justin Rose (UK) Golf – won his first Major Championship at US Open, at the age of 32
Adam Scott (Australia) Golf – first Australian winner in the 77-year history of US Masters

Laureus World Comeback of the Year
Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) Athletics – won pole vault world title in front of home Russian crowd
Rafael Nadal (Spain) Tennis – winner of French Open, US Open and five ATP Masters event
Oracle Team USA – Sailing – 8-1 down in America’s Cup, Oracle fought back for a remarkable 9-8 victory
Tony Parker (France) Basketball – European Championship MVP after recovering from serious eye injury
Ronaldinho (Brazil) Football – at 33, led unfashionable Atlético Mineiro to victory in Copa Libertadores
Tiger Woods (US) Golf – US PGA Player of the Year after five tour victories, regained world No 1 ranking

Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Marie Bochet (France) Skiing – first winner of all five disciplines at a single Alpine World Championships
Marcel Hug (Switzerland) Wheelchair Racing – won five golds and a silver medal at World Championships
Tatyana McFadden (US) Wheelchair Racing – won four city marathons and six golds at World Championships
Sophie Pascoe (NZ) Swimming – won five gold medals out of five attempts at World Championships
Sarah Louise Rung (Norway) Swimming – won four gold medals in her five races in World Championships
Olga Sviderska (Ukraine) Swimming – took five individual and two relay golds in the World Championships

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year
Jamie Bestwick (UK) BMX – only athlete in X Games history to win eight straight gold medals
Bob Burnquist (Brazil) Skateboarding – overtook Dave Mirra to win a record 25th X-Games gold medal
Mick Fanning (Australia) Surfing – clinched his third World Surfing Championship in last event of year
John John Florence (US) Surfing  – scored perfect 10 for completing the Alley Oop in Bali
Maya Gabeira (Brazil) Surfing – nearly drowned after attempting to surf a 70ft wave in Portugal
Shaun White (US) Snowboarding – won sixth consecutive SuperPipe gold medal at Winter X Games

For more detailed biographies of Nominees go to www.laureus.com

The 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards Nominations were announced in a series of global events in Kuala Lumpur, London and New York. Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports more than 140 community sports projects in 34 countries. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €60 million for projects which have improved the lives of more than one-and-a-half million young people.

Ameyaw Kissi Debrah, known professionally as Ameyaw Debrah, is a Ghanaian celebrity blogger, freelance journalist, and reporter.

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