Spain, the United States and Germany were the big winners at the 2011 Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony in Abu Dhabi as each country collected two prestigious Laureus Awards on Sunday.
Spain’s world tennis No. 1 Rafael Nadal was crowned Laureus World Sportsman of the Year after his remarkable 2010 winning three Grand Slam events - at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. It was Nadal’s second Laureus Award - he also won the Laureus Breakthrough Award in 2006.
Nadal also joined in the celebrations as the Laureus World Team of the Year Award went to the Spain World Cup Team for their maiden triumph at the Fifa World Cup in South Africa.
“I cannot be thankful enough for receiving the most prestigious award in the world of the sport, Nadal said. “For me it is an honour to be in front of the best sportsmen and sportsmen of the world. Thank you very much.”
“For me, being number one in the world is not a real goal,” Nadal told a news conference after the awards ceremony. “The real goal is being competitive in every tournament I am going to play and trying to keep having chances to win titles.”
“I think that sports in Spain this year is really unbelievable,” Nadal said. “It will be very difficult to repeat, so we have to enjoy a lot this moment.”
American Kelly Slater received a warm reception from an enthusiastic audience as he was presented with the Laureus Action Sports Award for the third time, after winning a record tenth World Surfing Championship.
Lindsey Vonn made it an American double by winning the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award after a stellar year in which she secured her third straight skiing World Cup and the Olympic Downhill gold medal.
German sport celebrated two Awards. Brilliant young golfer Martin Kaymer was presented with the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award after winning the US PGA Championship and finishing as No. 1 golfer in Europe while visually impaired skier and biathlete Verena Bentele was a popular winner of the Laureus Disability Award after capturing five gold medals in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award went to Italy’s super competitive seven-times motor cycle world champion Valentino Rossi, who returned to the track just 41 days after breaking his leg.
There was a rapturous welcome for French football legend Zinedine Zidane, who received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his remarkable career.
“My wish is to always stay close to football,” he said, adding that he hopes to become a manager one day.
The Laureus Spirit of Sport Award was presented to the European Ryder Cup Team to mark their emotional win over the United States in October in a match which demonstrated great sportsmanship, golf played at the highest level and enormous and passionate galleries.
The Laureus Sport for Good Award was presented to May El-Khalil, founder of the Beirut Marathon.
The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement, 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, were announced at a televised Awards Ceremony staged at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi hosted by double Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and attended by guests from the worlds of sport and entertainment.
Among the guests were Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, Ronan Keating, Edwin Moses, Boris Becker, Rafael Nadal, Steve Redgrave, Merlene Ottey, Tony Hawk, Kip Keno, Nawal El Moutawakel, Gary Player, Mark Spitz, Frankie Fredericks, Colin Montgomerie, Ille Nastase, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Ion Tiriac, Marcel Desailly, Wladimir Klitschko, Zinedine Zidane, Dwight Yorke, Christian Karembeu, Luis Figo, Kelly Slater and Blanka Vlasic.
At the Awards Ceremony it was announced that Australian five-times motor cycle 500cc world champion Mick Doohan and five-times Olympic rowing gold medallist Steve Redgrave have been elected to the Laureus World Sports Academy.
The Laureus World Sports Awards was staged in Abu Dhabi thanks to the generous support of Aabar Investments PJS, Host Partner for the event. Khadem Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Aabar, said: “Aabar is delighted to bring the Laureus World Sports Awards to Abu Dhabi once again. It is a great event and we hope that many of the world’s leading sportsmen and women have enjoyed experiencing our Abu Dhabi hospitality. On behalf of Aabar, I would like to congratulate all the winners and wish every nominee continued sporting success in 2011.”
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Rafael Nadal
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Lindsey Vonn
Laureus World Team of the Year: Spain World Cup Team
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Martin Kaymer
Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Valentino Rossi
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Verena Bentele
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Kelly Slater
Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award - Zinedine Zidane
Laureus Spirit of Sport Award - European Ryder Cup Team
Laureus Sport for Good Award - May El-Khalil, founder of the Beirut Marathon
Follow Emirates 24|7 on Google News.