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EXCITING HEAD-TO-HEAD BATTLES ADD SPICE TO LAUREUS AWARDS

An exciting year of sport has thrown up some potentially classic head-to-head battles to win Laureus World Sports Awards.

Usain Bolt v Lewis Hamilton; Serena Williams v Katie Ledecky and All Blacks v FC Barcelona are among the contests that we could possibly see when the Laureus World Sports Academy cast their votes for the most prestigious honours in sport.

First, though, the leading sportsmen, sportswomen and teams of 2015 have to receive enough votes from the world’s media to reach the shortlist. The Laureus Nominations Panel, consisting of leading sportswriters, editors and broadcasters from more than 100 countries, is voting now to select six Nominees in a variety of categories.

The Laureus World Sportsman of the Year category promises to be one of the closest ever. The world’s greatest sprinter Usain Bolt will be looking for his fourth Laureus Award, while world No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic will be hoping for his third. Among a list of strong contenders are three-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, football greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, basketball giants LeBron James and Pau Gasol, athletes Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford, cyclists Chris Froome and Alberto Contador, world golf No.1 Jordan Spieth and unbeaten boxing legend Floyd Mayweather.

American tennis star Serena Williams is also a three-time Laureus winner and will be hoping for another Nomination for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award. Among others, she could be up against 18-year-old US swim sensation Katie Ledecky, athletes Genzebe Dibaba, Allyson Felix, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Dafne Schippers, football World Cup stars Carli Lloyd and Marta and skiers Marit Bjorgen and Anna Fenninger.

Rugby World Cup winners the All Blacks, Champions League winners FC Barcelona and the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team will be among the favourites for Nomination for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award. But they face a strong American challenge from the US Women’s World Cup Team, New England Patriots, Kansas City Royals and Golden State Warriors, plus Great Britain’s Davis Cup Team and Spanish Men’s Basketball Team which won the European Championship.

The most open competition could be for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award, where a wide range of sports and countries could have Nominees. The Chile Men’s Football Team won their first ever Copa America, Belgium’s Max Verstappen became the youngest Formula One driver at 17, golf’s Jason Day and Brooke Henderson, British swimmer Adam Peaty and Australian jockey Michelle Payne all made personal breakthroughs, while Bahrain’s Alzain Tareq, at ten, became the youngest ever swimmer in the world championships.

Some of the biggest names in sport made noteworthy returns in 2015 and could be potential Nominees for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award, including Rugby World Cup winner Dan Carter, ski star Lindsey Vonn, swimmer Michael Phelps, and athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill. Australian surfer Mick Fanning returned to action just six days after fighting off a shark attack in South Africa.

Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman and Olympic legend Edwin Moses said: “We have a group of sportsmen and women here who are simply la crème de la crème. Whoever is nominated, it’s going to be one of the closest contests ever in so many of the categories. I have never known a year when you can look at the potential Nominees and see so many possible winners. This year the vote of the Laureus Media Nominations Panel is so important. There is quality everywhere and we need their vast knowledge and experience to produce the best shortlist.”

The names of the Nominees for these five categories, plus those for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year, which are chosen by specialist
panels, will be announced in the New Year.

The eventual winners of the Laureus World Sports Awards will then be chosen from the lists of Nominees, in a secret ballot, by the 53 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy – the living legends of sport honouring the greatest athletes of today – and announced at the Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony.

Among the sporting greats who have previously been named as winners of Laureus Awards since 2000 have been Usain Bolt, Sebastian Coe, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Alex Ferguson, Lewis Hamilton, Yao Ming, Rafael Nadal, Pelé, Steve Redgrave, Ronaldo, Michael Schumacher, Kelly Slater, Shaun White, Serena Williams and Zinedine Zidane.

Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports more than 150 sports-based community projects in 35 countries around the world that have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people.

Members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, backed up by a group of more than 150 Laureus Ambassadors, volunteer their time to support the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, whose mission is to use sport as the means to combat some of the world’s toughest social challenges facing young people today.

These include juvenile crime, gangs, HIV/AIDS, discrimination, social exclusion, landmines awareness, education and health problems such as obesity. Since its inception Laureus has raised €85 million to support
projects around the world.

Article and picture courtesy of Laureus

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