Six British sportsmen, sportswomen and teams have been included among the nominees for the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards, which are being staged in London next year.
The nominees were announced by Laureus World Sports Academy Members Lord Coe, Sean Fitzpatrick, Baroness Grey-Thompson and Daley Thompson at Central Hall, Westminster, where the Awards Ceremony will be held on Monday, February 6.
The England cricket team, who became world No1 after their Ashes win in Australia and their 4-0 victory over India in the summer, have been nominated for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award. In one of the strongest team categories ever, they are up against the All Blacks, winners of the Rugby World Cup, Champions League winners FC Barcelona and Formula 1 team Red Bull.
Buoyant Northern Ireland golf has produced two nominees. Exciting young star Rory McIlroy is shortlisted for the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year after winning the US Open, his first major championship, at the age of 22, and Darren Clarke, who recovered from a slump in form following the tragic loss of his wife, to win the Open Championship, is a contender for the Laureus Comeback of the Year Award.
Mo Farah, one of Britain’s big hopes for an Olympic track gold medal next summer, is nominated alongside McIlroy for the Laureus Breakthrough Award, after he became the first ever British winner of the 5,000 metres in the World Championships. He was also European Athlete of the Year.
Another British athlete, wheelchair racer David Weir, who will be focusing on the Paralympic Games in London next summer, has been shortlisted for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award, after winning three gold medals in the IPC World Championships in New Zealand.
BMX maestro Jamie Bestwick, who courageously came back from a fractured skull to win his fifth straight X Games gold, is nominated for the second straight year for the Laureus Action Sports Award.
The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the calendar year 2011, are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners are chosen from six Nominees in each category by the vote of the Laureus World Sports Academy, made up of 47 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time.
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports 89 community sports projects around the world. Since its inception, Laureus has raised €40 million for projects which have improved the lives of more than 1.5 million young people.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: “I am excited that the Laureus World Sports Awards and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation have decided to bring the Awards to London for 2012. Laureus and I share a commitment to making sport a positive part of everyone’s life regardless of age and ability. Celebrating the power of sport here in London with the world’s sporting superstars will provide the perfect start to our Olympic year and it marks the beginning of a real and long-lasting grassroots sports legacy for London and beyond.”
In addition to the six British nominations, a glittering collection of the world’s greatest sports stars have been shortlisted, following a vote by the world’s media in 93 countries.
Argentina’s charismatic football star Lionel Messi has been nominated for the third straight time for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award. His team FC Barcelona are also nominated as Laureus World Team of the Year for the fourth time. Surfing legend and three-time winner Kelly Slater is nominated once more for the Laureus Action Sports Award.
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius are both nominated in two categories – Kvitova for Sportswoman and Breakthrough, while athlete Pistorius qualifies for the Breakthrough and Disability Awards. Dutch wheelchair tennis legend Esther Vergeer, a winner of the Laureus Disability Award in 2002 and 2008, is nominated again.
Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses said: “This has been a great year for sport and the Academy are going to find it extremely difficult to decide who to vote for as winners. We have had several massive performances in 2011 both by individuals and teams and that has been reflected in the Nominations. I congratulate all the Nominees and now we look forward to what should be a great Awards Ceremony in February in London.”
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