A spectacular year of sport has set up an exciting contest for the 2012 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award. Young lions like Novak Djokovic, Lionel Messi and Sebastian Vettel will be competing with a wide-ranging line-up of champions for sport’s most prestigious honour.
The Laureus World Sports Awards is recognised as the premier honours event in the international sporting calendar and the Awards Ceremony provides a high profile focus as stars of the sporting world come together to salute the finest sportsmen and sportswomen of the year. The winners will be unveiled during a globally televised Awards Ceremony in London on Monday, February 6.
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports 89 community sports projects around the world that have helped to improve the lives of more than one-and-a-half million young people.
Among the leading contenders for Nomination is Novak Djokovic, who became the dominant player in men’s tennis in 2011, winning three Grand Slam tournaments – the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open – and taking over the world No 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal on July 4. He is the first Serbian to win a Grand Slam singles title and the youngest player, at 24, to have reached the semi-finals of all four Grand Slams in the open era.
Sebastian Vettel won his second straight Formula One World Championship in 2011. Driving a Red Bull, he secured the title at the Japanese Grand Prix in October, four races before the end of the season. It made Vettel the youngest driver, at 24, to have won two world titles. In his career, he has created a succession of records, including youngest F1 driver at a Grand Prix meeting at 19 years, 53 days, and youngest to win a race, the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, at 21 years, 73 days.
Argentina’s Lionel Messi, also 24, will be seeking to become the first team player to win the individual Laureus Sportsman Award, after another amazing year. The greatest footballer of his generation, he scored 53 goals in all competitions for Barcelona in the 2010/11 season. Messi played a significant role in Barcelona’s Champions League success in 2011, their third in six years, scoring a total of 12 goals, including both goals in the 2-0 first leg semi-final win against arch-rivals Real Madrid.
With the Awards Ceremony being held in London, British sportsmen are mounting a strong challenge to provide a home winner. Among the contenders are Tour de France sprint hero Mark Cavendish, world No 1 golfer Luke Donald, who headed the US PGA Tour money list, England cricketers Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott, world triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee and track star Mo Farah, who became the first Briton to win a 5,000 metres world championship gold medal in Daegu.
Basketball produced two strong personal performances. Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki became the first European-born player to receive the Most Valuable Player Award in the NBA Finals, as Dallas Mavericks beat Miami Heat 4-2, and American Derrick Rose, at 22, became the youngest winner of the NBA’s MVP Award as he led Chicago Bulls to the NBA Play-offs. In 2011 he became only the third player in 30 years, along with LeBron James and Michael Jordan, to reach 2,000 points and 600 assists.
Jamaica’s sprint star Usain Bolt is probably best remembered in 2011 for the false start which disqualified him from the World Championship 100 metres in Daegu. However, it was still a highly successful championship as he won two gold medals – the 200 metres and the 4 x 100 metres relay, in which the Jamaican team set a new world record of 37.04 secs. Other outstanding athletics performances came from Germany’s Robert Harting, who successfully defended his discus title in Daegu, despite a knee injury, and Kenya’s Patrick Makau, who beat the legendary Haile Gebrselassie in September in the Berlin Marathon and broke the world record by 21 seconds.