The highly successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in London produced a night of sporting success in Rio de Janeiro as British sport celebrated winning three coveted Laureus World Sports Awards.
Jessica Ennis, the SJA’s Sportswoman of 2012, was named Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, Andy Murray won the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award and Sebastian Coe was honoured with the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award.
Additionally the triumphant European Ryder Cup Team, which included seven British golfers, Luke Donald, Paul Lawrie, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood, won the Laureus World Team of the Year Award, also matching the SJA members’ selection last year.
The Laureus World Sports Awards are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen.
Ennis was presented with the Laureus Statuette by Laureus World Sports Academy Member Nadia Comaneci at the globally televised Awards Ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.
She said: “It is so surreal to stand here in front of all these amazing sportsmen and sportswomen. As a 10-year-old I came into sport and dreamed of being an Olympian and an Olympic champion. I’ve finally done it and it is an incredible feeling.
“The pressure on me was a lot. But I had the great support of my friends and family, the support of an amazing team around me who encouraged me and believed in me, and thankfully I was able to realise my dream.”
Laureus World Sports Academy Member Daley Thompson, Britain’s greatest men’s multi-sport athlete, winner of two Olympic decathlon gold medals, said: “Jessica’s performance was majestic. She had the whole weight of the country’s expectations on her shoulders. Despite all that, she certainly delivered. She not only produced a wonderful display in her events but she gave the British team an enormous lift. Jessica showed she could win a gold medal, so everyone who followed her also felt they could do it as well. She was one of the many highlights of an amazing two weeks for British sport.”
Murray’s first ever Grand Slam victory, at the US Open, plus an Olympic gold and silver medal in the singles and mixed doubles in London, made him a popular winner of the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award.
He said: “It was an amazing year. My first Grand Slam in New York and two medals at the Olympics in my home country. I would have taken that at the start of the year, that’s for sure. The British team had such a great Olympics and I watched loads of medals being won by the British athletes. I think I was motivated by that. The support the whole British team received during the Olympics was incredible. To all who voted for me, thank you. Winning an Award like this will definitely make me more determined to come back and do better next year.”
Laureus World Sports Academy Member Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award following his stellar career as a middle distance runner in the 1970s and 80s and his delivery of a highly successful Olympic Games in 2012.
He said: “The most honoured and the sincerest awards that can ever be given are those by your peers, and I’m surrounded by the most extraordinary group of people, global icons, who have elevated way beyond sport what they’ve achieved.
“We all have that unshakeable belief that sport can, and does, transform lives. So I thank them, and very openly share this with them, because it is the ethos that we all share in this Academy. This is an extraordinary honour. Thank you very much to the Academy. I’m very, very flattered.”
Edwin Moses, Chairman of Laureus, said: I have known Sebastian Coe for many years in many guises. Back in the 1970s and 80s, we competed together in track and field meets around the world. We even won gold medals together in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He was a wonderful middle distance runner and a great competitor. He is of course remembered for his gold medals in Moscow and Los Angeles, but I also remember an amazing 41 days in 1979 when he broke three world records with what appeared such ease.
“Today’s younger generation, particularly in the United Kingdom, will probably remember him more as the man who brought the Olympic and Paralympic Games to London, which were organised impeccably and which became a wonderful festival of sport for competitors and spectators alike. I know that Seb always saw the Games not just as an event in itself, but as a way to ignite sport among young people in the UK and to leave a legacy for London, especially East London where the Games were held.
“Now, after a great showing by British athletes in the Games, Seb has become Chairman of the British Olympic Association, charged with keeping that success going. With him in charge, I think there is every chance of that happening. I heartily congratulate him on the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award to mark a magnificent career in sport, which is showing no sign of slowing down.”
The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during 2012, were unveiled at the Awards Ceremony at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, which was hosted by Hollywood stars Morgan Freeman and Eva Longoria.
The Awards were announced in seven categories. The full list of winners is:
- Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Usain Bolt
- Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Jessica Ennis
- Laureus World Team of the Year: European Ryder Cup Team
- Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Andy Murray
- Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Felix Sanchez
- Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Daniel Dias
- Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Felix Baumgartner
There were two additional Awards: The Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the Organising Committee of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and the newly created Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award was presented to Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time.
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 around the world, including three in Rio de Janeiro. Since its inception, Laureus has raised €60 million for projects which have improved the lives of more than one-and-a-half million young people.
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Laureus is one of the SJA’s valued partners, and will sponsor the SJA’s Sports Website of the Year Award to be presented in two weeks’ time.
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