Photo credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images for Laureus
The world’s top tennis player Novak Djokovic, the Germany World Cup football team and brilliant young athlete Genzebe Dibaba were the big winners as the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards were unveiled in Shanghai. Serbia’s Novak Djokovic won his second Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award after another brilliant 12 months which featured a second Wimbledon victory. He said: ‘This is probably the crown of my 2014 season that has been highlighted with winning Wimbledon, regaining number one in the world and becoming a father. It has probably been my best year so far in my life.’
Oliver Bierhoff, manager of the Germany team, was at the Awards Ceremony to receive the Laureus World Team of the Year Award following the historic victory last year when Germany became the first European team to win the FIFA World Cup in South America. It was Germany’s fourth World Cup triumph. Bierhoff said: ‘At the final whistle we were together on the pitch, the coaches, players, team staff members, it was such a connection among us. For the coaches and some of the players and me it was a ten year project. And we were so happy at this moment.’
Photo credit: Ian Walton/Getty Images for Laureus
Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba was named Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year after breaking three world records in different events in two weeks. She is only the third person in history to achieve this feat, along with athletic giants Jesse Owens and Usain Bolt. There was an emotional welcome from the guests at the Awards Ceremony at the Shanghai Grand Theatre for South Africa’s Schalk Burger, who won the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award after recovering from life-threatening meningitis to win his place back in the Springboks rugby team.
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo was named winner of the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award after a brilliant rookie season in which he won three Formula One Grand Prix for Red Bull. Ricciardo said: ‘The year was awesome, one of those years which I think was as good as it could get without actually winning a title. Definitely a breakthrough in my career.’ There was a double success for the United States with wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden winning the Laureus Disability Award and Alan Eustace receiving the Laureus Action Sports Award after his record-breaking freefall from the edge of space.
Host nation China was celebrating after the Laureus World Sports Academy gave two special Awards. Retired tennis star Li Na, who has fostered a dramatic growth of the sport in China after winning two Grand Slam championships, was given the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award, while basketball legend Yao Ming, who had a stunning career with Houston Rockets until he retired in 2011, was honoured with the Laureus Spirit of Sport Award. During the event, it was also announced that Yao Ming and Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar had been elected the newest members of the Laureus World Sports Academy.
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 50 of the greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen. Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Since its inception, Laureus has raised €60 million for projects which have improved the lives of millions of young people.
The Laureus World Sports Awards were announced in seven categories. The full list of winners is:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Novak Djokovic
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Genzebe Dibaba
Laureus World Team of the Year: Germany Men’s Football Team
Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Schalk Burger
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Tatyana McFadden
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Alan Eustace