Making history

February 26 - March 03 , 2020

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Making history

Since 1999, athletes from various disciplines have been recognised and celebrated for their outstanding achievements in the sporting realm in the Laureus World Sports Awards.

The annual award ceremony was established by Laureus Sport for Good Foundation founding patr-ons Daimler and Richemont. The awards support the work of Laureus Sport for Good, a programme that helps more than 160 community projects in more than 40 countries.

The ceremony is held in a different part of the world every year, with the 2020 Laureus World Sports Award being held in Berlin, Germany. 

This year marked its 20th anniversary, featuring a performance by former One Direction member Liam Payne and hosted by Hugh Grant.

Sporting history was made when the greatest Formula One driver of his generation, Lewis Hamilton, and the world’s greatest footballer Lionel Messi, were declared joint winners of the prestigious Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award.

The six-time Formula One world champion and six-time FIFA World Player of the Year were so close in terms of their achievements in 2019 that even the ultimate sporting jury, the Laureus World Sports Academy, could not split them.

The voting was tied for the very first time in the 20-year history of the awards.

Meanwhile, American sport celebrated four awards. At the World Championships, Simone Biles won five gold medals including a record fifth All-Around world title and helped the US win a fifth straight team medal. Biles has now won 25 World Championship medals, confirming her as the most decorated gymnast in history. She won her third coveted Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award in four years.

Snowboarder Chloe Kim won the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award. She won gold medals in the World Championship halfpipe and X Games Superpipe. Kim has already won five X Games gold medals, an Olympic gold, World Championship gold and she’s now a double Laureus Award winner after her Action Sportsperson win in 2019.

In the Laureus Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability category, Oksana Masters, born with limb impairments caused by radiation from Chernobyl and adopted by an American single parent, was recognised for an outstanding year in 2019. She won five gold medals and silver at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships, plus the cross-country overall World Cup title.

She also won silver medals in the road race and time trial H5 at the Para Cycling Road World Championships.

South Bronx United (SBU), a football programme based in New York, was honoured with the Laureus Sport for Good Award.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup winners South Africa won their second Laureus World Team of the Year Award. The memory of Siya Kolisi, South Africa’s historic first black Test rugby captain, lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy in Yokohama, was an iconic moment in sport and the audience in the Verti Halle in Berlin applauded the emotional moment when Kolisi led six of the team members on stage to receive the Laureus Statuette.

The team’s victory united communities back in South Africa and was proof of sport’s ability to change the world.

F3 driver Germany’s Sophia Flörsch won the 2020 Laureus World Comeback of the Year.

Travelling at 276km per hour, Flörsch lost control of her car at the Macau circuit, crashing through safety barriers and leaving her with a spinal fracture which required an 11-hour surgery and months of rehabilitation. In November 2019, a year on from her accident, the 18-year-old was racing once again in the Macau Grand Prix.

At 22, Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Egan Bernal became the youngest rider to win the Tour de France for 110 years, wearing the yellow jersey down the Champs-Élysées in what was only his second three-week classic event.

A proud Colombian, Bernal’s win united his nation back home as he became the first Colombian to win the world famous cycling event.

The Laureus Sporting Moment Award (2000-2020) public fan vote was won by Sachin Tendulkar.

On his sixth attempt, Tendulkar led India to victory at the 2011 ICC World Cup.

It was India’s first World Cup win on home soil and their second ever triumph.

German basketball great Dirk Nowitzki was recognised at the ceremony with the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the sport of basketball. He spent his entire 21-year career at the Dallas Mavericks. He retired at the end of the 2018-19 recording at least 31,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, 1,000 steals, 1,000 blocks and 1,000 three-pointers.

The Laureus World Sports Academy recognised the Spanish Basketball Federation with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award, an award which has only ever been granted four times.

The Laureus’ Sport Unites Us theme will continue throughout its 20th anniversary year in 2020.

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