Monaco, Feb 13: From football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to sprint king Usain Bolt, an array of the world’s biggest sportspersons will be vying for top honours at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards to be held here tomorrow.
The awards this year hold more significance as they return to the birthplace of the first ever Laureus Awards, after 17 years.
Also called the ‘Oscars of Sports’, the contest for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award promises to be one of the most competitive ever with nominees such as Bolt, already a three-time Laureus winner, Olympics 5,000m and 10,000m race champion Mo Farah, tennis great Andy Murray, basketball duo of Stephen Curry and LeBron James, besides Ronaldo fighting for the prestigious award.
The nominations for the World Sportswoman of the Year award are filled by all six Olympians that include USA gymnast Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky and Allyson Felix, German world tennis number one Angelique Kerber, Jamaican sprint star Elaine Thompson and British cyclist Laura Kenny.
Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian ever, heads the nominees in the World Comeback of the Year category, having won another five gold medals and a silver at the Rio Games last year.
Giving him competition in this category would be Spain’s high jumper Ruth Beitia, Argentina’s Davis Cup winner Juan Martin del Potro, British showjumper Nick Skelton, Mauritius triathlete Fabienne St Louis and Norwegian skier Aksel Lund Svindal.
Having finished second in 2014 and 2015, Nico Rosberg finally won the Formula One World Championship last year and that has earned him a nomination for the World Breakthrough of the Year Award. He will be facing some challenge from Olympic world-record breaking runners Almaz Ayana and Wayde van Niekerk, and three teams who performed heroically in 2016: English Premier League Champions Leicester City, European Championship quarter-finalists Iceland and Olympic Rugby Sevens gold medal winners Fiji.
Roseberg felt that all others who have been nominated alongside him were capable of winning the award.
“The list of the nominees are incredible. I cannot single out one who can give me a tough competition tomorrow as all other five are capable of earning the top honour. All I can say is it would be really special to win an award,” Roseberg said at a press conference on the eve of the awards ceremony.
In another category, Mercedes AMG Petronas are nominated for the third straight year for the World Team of the Year Award, along with three football teams — European Champions Portugal, Champions League winners Real Madrid and Neymar-inspired Olympic gold medal winners Brazil.
American teams Chicago Cubs, winner of their first baseball World Series for 108 years, and NBA Champions Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, are also shortlisted.
The Rio Paralympic Games will provide all six nominees for the highly respected World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award with swimmers Ihar Boki from Belarus and New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe, visually impaired Cuban sprinter Omara Durand, Iran weightlifter Siamand Rahman, Swiss wheelchair racer Marcel Hug and Italian fencer Beatrice Vio.
The men’s and women’s surfing world champions John John Florence and Tyler Wright were nominated for the Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year Award, along with snowboarder Chloe Kim, skateboarder Pedro Barros, mountain biker Rachel Atherton and Estonia’s freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru who at 13 became the youngest ever winner of a gold medal at the Winter Games.
The eventual winners, as voted for by members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, will be revealed here tomorrow at a glittering function.
For the first time ever, sports fans will have the chance to make their voices heard in a brand new Best Sporting Moment of the Year Award.