Laureus Sports Awards: Cream of world sport converges on London

Novak Djokovic, Lionel Messi, Sebastian Vettel and Rory McIlroy are among the nominees for the 2012 'sporting Oscars'

laureus sports awards
The winners will be announced on 6 February Photo: Getty Images for Laureus

laureus sports awards

While Europe is gripped in its deepest chill of the year, London is preparing for the heat of sporting competition as champions from around the world converge on the capital this weekend.

For the English captial is making a bold start to its special Olympic year as host of the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards—the ‘Oscars’ of sport.

It promises to be an occasion worthy of an Olympic city. Among the celebrities who will take to the red carpet at Central Hall, Westminster on Monday evening are Australian Open tennis champion Novak Djokovic, Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, and member of Ashes-winning England team, Paul Collingwood—and that is just the start.

For alongside the nominees for the best sporting achievements of 2011 will be champions from around the globe—the likes of Lennox Lewis, Frankie Fredericks and Denise Lewis will rub shoulders with Laureus Academy members and ambassadors Boris Becker, Sir Bobby Charlton, Gary Player, Emerson Fittipaldi, Martina Navratilova, Sir Steve Redgrave, Sean Fitzpatrick, Mark Spitz, Kapil Dev, Tony Hawk, Edwin Moses—and many more.

The star-studded ceremony comes to the UK for the first time in its history—previous venues have included the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg and the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco—and Prime Minister David Cameron pointed to the timeliness of the event’s arrival in London:

“These Awards celebrate the world’s top sportsmen and women and highlight the incredible power of sport to make a real difference to individuals and communities around the world. I can’t think of a better way to kick off our Olympic year.”

This year’s shortlists, which are put together by the world’s sporting media, boast a formidable line-up of nominees covering every type of sport, from athletics to skiing, motorsport to tennis, rugby to golf, surfing to cycling.

And while no UK names are in contention for the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year gongs, there is plenty for the home nation to celebrate in other categories.

The England cricket team makes the World Team of the Year list, Mo Farah and Rory McIlroy feature in the Breakthrough of the Year category and the hugely popular golfer, Darren Clarke, is one of the Comeback of the Year stars.

David Weir, winner of three gold medals in the IPC World Championships, is a UK presence in the Sportsperson with a Disability category and BMX star Jamie Bestwick, who came back from a fractured skull to win a fifth X Games gold, completes the UK tally.

One of the favourites for the Sportsman accolade—won in recent years by Rafael Nadal, Usain Bolt and Roger Federer—is Lionel Messi, nominated for a third straight year and aiming to be the first team player to win the individual award. His football club is also a contender: FC Barcelona is among the nominated teams for the fourth time.

If Messi has his work cut out against the likes of Djokovic and Sebastian Vettel, Barcelona finds itself in a particularly competitive category against the outstanding Red Bull Formula One Team, winners of the Constructors Championships for the second straight year, and Rugby World Cup winners, the All Blacks.

Two individuals are nominated twice. Wimbledon winner Kvitova is up for both Sportswoman of the Year and the Breakthrough performance, while Oscar Pistorius makes a unique double entry: the “blade runner” athlete is in the Disabled category and, for becoming the first amputee to win a track medal in the non-disabled World Athletics Championships, is also in the Breakthrough category.

At the inaugural Awards ceremony in 2000, Nelson Mandela said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.”

Thirteen years later, the proceeds from the event continue to underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which has distributed more than €40 million to 89 projects, helping to improve the lives of more than 1.5 million young people.

The nominees in contention for the Cartier-designed Laureus trophies are:

Sportsman of the Year

Usain Bolt, Jamaica, athletics
Novak Djokovic, Serbia, tennis
Cadel Evans, Australia, cycling
Lionel Messi, Argentina, football
Kirk Nowitzki, Germany, basketball
Sebastian Vettel, Germany, motor racing

Sportswoman of the Year

Vivian Cheruiyot, Kenya, athletics
Maria Hofl-Riesch, German, alpine skiing
Carmelita Jeter, US, athletics
Petra Kvitova, Czech Rep, tennis
Homare Sawa, Japan, football
Yani Tseng, Taiwan, Golf

Comeback of the Year

Eric Abidal, France, football
Darren Clarke, UK, golf
Crusaders, New Zealand, rugby
Sergio Carcia, Spain, golf
Liu Xiang, China, athletics
Queensland Reds, Australia, rugby

Action Sportsperson of the Year

Jamie Bestwick, UK, BMX
Philip Koster, Germany, windsurfing
Carissa Moore, US, surfing
Travis Rice, US, snowboarding
Kelly Slater, US, surfing
Shaun White, US, skateboarding/snowboarding

Team of the Year

All Blacks, New Zealand, rugby
FC Barcelona, Spain, football
Dallas Mavericks, US, basketball
England Cricket Team
Japan Women’s Football Team
Red Bull, Austria, motor racing

Sportsperson with a Disability

Daniel Dias, Brazil, swimming
Terezinha Guilhermina, Brazil, athletics
Oscar Pistorius, S Africa, athletics
Esther Vergeer, Netherlands, wheelchair tennis
David Weir, UK, wheelchair athletics
Irek Zaripov, Russia, Nordic skiing

Breakthrough of the Year

Yohan Blake, Jamaica, athletics
Mo Farah, UK, athletics
Petra Kvitova, Czech Rep, tennis
Rory McIlroy, UK, golf
Li Na, China, tennis
Oscar Pistorius, S Africa, athletics

Paul Merson
Paul Merson predicts the scoreline of Man United v Arsenal
Michael Owen
Michael Owen predicts outcome of Everton v Liverpool FC
Michael Owen
Michael Owen predicts outcome of Man United v Arsenal
Thomas Tuchel
‘I’m a bit worried’: Thomas Tuchel provides injury update ahead of West Ham v Chelsea FC
Jamie Carragher
Jamie Carragher, Gary Lineker react to Mo Salah's display in Liverpool FC's 4-1 win over Everton
Paul Merson
Paul Merson predicts the scoreline of Man United v Arsenal
Michael Owen
Michael Owen predicts outcome of Everton v Liverpool FC
Michael Owen
Michael Owen predicts outcome of Man United v Arsenal
Thomas Tuchel
‘I’m a bit worried’: Thomas Tuchel provides injury update ahead of West Ham v Chelsea FC
Jamie Carragher
Jamie Carragher, Gary Lineker react to Mo Salah's display in Liverpool FC's 4-1 win over Everton
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature