Messi, Nadal top nominees for Laureus awards

Laureus Sports Academy member (from left) Marcel Desailly, Chairman of Aabar Investments Khadem Al Qubaisi, Secretary General of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Mohammad Ibrahim Al Mahmud and Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moss, pose with the statuette of the Laureus Award following a conference announcing the global nominations for the event. (AFP)

Footballer Lionel Messi and tennis aces Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams will lead the nominees for the Laureus World Sports Awards to be held next month in Abu Dhabi, it was announced on Tuesday.

The Argentine who was named on Monday the World player of the year is nominated along with his Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta for the awards which are considered the sport version of The Oscars, organisers revealed in a press conference.
The event is being organised in Abu Dhabi for the second year in a row.
“We are pleased to host this event for the second year consecutively,” said Mohammad Al Mahmood, secretary general of Abu Dhabi Sports Council. 
Dozens of sports and Hollywood celebrities will travel to the capital of the UAE on February 5 to 7 to attend the event held at the Emirates Palace Hotel.
Other nominees include Germany’s Sebastian Vettel, the youngest winner of the Formula One World Championship, Winter Paralympic stars Verena Bentele, Jakub Krako and Lauren Woolstencroft for Laureus Disability Award.
Ten-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater is nominated for Laureus Action Sports Award.
“Every year in which there is an Olympic Games or World Cup, we have some of the strongest fields of candidates,” said Edwin Moses, the chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy.
The Spain team which won the football world cup in South Africa will compete for the Laureus World Team of the Year category, along with the European Ryder Cup Team, Champions League winners Inter Milan, NBA winners Los Angeles Lakers, the Red Bull Formula One Team and the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team.
Last year’s winners of the 2010 Laureus Sportsman and Sportswomen of the Year awards included Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt for the second time, US tennis champion Serena Williams, and British Formula One driver Jenson Button.
The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the calendar year 2010, are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners, as voted by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time, will be unveiled at a televised Awards Ceremony.
The nominations for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award are dominated by golf and include European No 1 Martin Kaymer from Germany, South Africa’s Open Championship winner Louis Oosthuizen and Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who became the youngest ever winner on the European Tour in 2010. Germany’s Thomas Müller, winner of the Golden Boot and the Best Young Player Award at the World Cup, is also on the shortlist, along with French athletes Christophe Lemaitre and Teddy Tamgho.
Several of sport’s biggest names – Belgian tennis star Justine Henin, Swedish golden girl Carolina Kluft and Italian motor cycle racer Valentino Rossi - have been nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award. Also nominated in this category are American golfer Paula Creamer, track star Tyson Gay and former Jamaican athlete Merlene Ottey, who now runs for Slovenia.
The 2011 Laureus World Sports Awards is returning to Abu Dhabi thanks to the support of Aabar Investments PJS, who will once again be Host Partner for the event. Khadem Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Aabar, said: “The Laureus World Sports Awards is a unique event. It was magnificent, a great success for Abu Dhabi when it was held here last March. The whole event was really superb.”
Last year double Oscar-winning Hollywood star Kevin Spacey hosted a glittering Awards Ceremony attended by leading sportsmen and women from around the world. Also in the audience at a packed auditorium at the Emirates Palace were Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, British film stars Hugh Grant and Clive Owen and American actors Kyle MacLachlan and Michelle Rodriguez.
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which supports almost 80 community sports projects around the world which have helped to improve the lives of more than one million young people.
There is a two-part voting process to find the winners of the Laureus World Sports Awards. Firstly, a Selection Panel of the world’s leading sports editors, writers and broadcasters from over 150 countries votes to create a shortlist of six nominations in various categories including Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, Laureus World Team of the Year, Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year and Laureus World Comeback of the Year. Then the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy vote by secret ballot to select the Award winners.
The Laureus Academy Members also vote for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year, the Nominations for which are made by specialist panels.
NOMINEES
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
Kobe Bryant (US) Basketball – won fifth NBA Finals and second Finals MVP award with LA Lakers
Andres Iniesta (Spain) Football – Barcelona star, scored winning goal for Spain in World Cup Final
Lionel Messi (Argentina) Football – scored 47 goals for Barcelona in the 2009/10 season
Rafael Nadal (Spain) Tennis – won French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in the same year
Manny Pacquiao (Philippines) Boxing – first boxer to win world titles in eight different divisions
Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Motor Racing – youngest F1 World Champion at 23 years 134 days
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year
Kim Clijsters (Belgium) Tennis – won second straight US Open and four other events in 2010
Jessica Ennis (UK) Athletics – won European heptathlon title and World Indoor pentathlon gold
Blanka Vlasic (Croatia) Athletics – IAAF athlete of year, won European and World Indoor high jump gold
Lindsey Vonn (US) Alpine Skiing – won third straight overall World Cup and Olympic Downhill gold
Serena Williams (US) Tennis – won Australian Open and Wimbledon to take her Grand Slam wins to 13
Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) Tennis – became world No 1, at 20, without having won a Grand Slam
Laureus World Team of the Year
All Blacks (New Zealand) Rugby – won Tri-Nations Series and completed a northern Grand Slam
European Ryder Cup Team– under Colin Montgomerie, Europe’s golfers beat the US 14½-13½
Inter Milan (Italy) Football – won Italian treble of Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia
Los Angeles Lakers (US) Basketball – beat arch-rivals Boston Celtics for their 16th NBA title
Red Bull Formula One Team (Austria) – won constructors’ and drivers’ world titles in 2010
Spain World Cup Team – won their first FIFA World Cup in 2010; also current European champions
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year
Martin Kaymer (Germany) Golf – won US PGA Championship and finished year as Europe’s No 1
Christophe Lemaitre (France) Athletics – won European Championships 100m, 200m and 4x100m treble
Matteo Manassero (Italy) Golf - youngest ever winner on European Tour at 17 years, 188 days
Thomas Müller (Germany) Football - winner of Golden Boot and Best Young Player Award at World Cup
Louis Oosthuizen (S. Africa) Golf – ranked 54th in world, he won the Open Championship at St Andrews
Teddy Tamgho (France) Athletics – triple jump winner of Diamond League and World Indoor gold medal
Laureus World Comeback of the Year
Paula Creamer (US) Golf – came back from injury to win the women's US Open by four strokes
Tyson Gay (US) Athletics – beat Usain Bolt in Stockholm and finished year ranked No 1 in 100 metres
Justine Henin (Belgium) Tennis – after 16 months out, returned to reach Australian Open final
Carolina Kluft (Sweden) Athletics – returned after ruptured hamstring, to reach Euro long jump final
Merlene Ottey (Slovenia) Athletics – became oldest woman to compete in Euro Champs at 50
Valentino Rossi (Italy) Motor Cycling – came back in 41 days after broken leg and later won in Sepang
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Verena Bentele (Germany) Skiing / Biathlon – won five gold medals in the Winter Paralympics
Matt Cowdrey (Australia) Swimming – won six golds and a silver medal in IPC World Championships
Daniel Dias (Brazil) Swimming –broke five world records and won eight titles at World Championships
Jakub Krako (Slovakia) Alpine Skiing – visually impaired, won three gold medals in Winter Paralympics
Esther Vergeer (Netherlands) Wheelchair Tennis – unbeaten run in singles dates back eight years
Lauren Woolstencroft (Canada) Alpine Skiing – won five Paralympic golds in front of her home crowd
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year
Jamie Bestwick (UK) BMX – seventh gold medal in BMX Vert at X Games, with first-ever four-peat
Victor Fernandez (Spain) Windsurfing – won PWA Wave Tour and led ranking throughout season
Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) Surfing – won her fourth consecutive world championship
Levi Sherwood (New Zealand) Freestyle Moto-Cross – at 18, won two events on X-Fighters Tour
Kelly Slater (US) Surfing – won an unprecedented record tenth World Surfing Championship.
Shaun White (US) Snowboarding – won second straight Olympic gold in Halfpipe, with 48.4 out of 50
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