ABU DHABI – Jamaica’s remarkable track genius Usain Bolt has been named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for the second straight time, after continuing his amazing blitz on sprinting in 2009 when he won three more gold medals at the World Championships.
US tennis star Serena Williams has won her second Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award, seven years after her first, following Grand Slam victories in Australia and at Wimbledon. It was her third Laureus Award in total, after also winning the Laureus Comeback Award in 2007.
Formula One was a big winner in Abu Dhabi as Britain’s Jenson Button won the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award following his first World Drivers’ Championship, and the Brawn GP Formula One Team, for whom Button drove in 2009, was named Laureus World Team of the Year.
Belgium’s Kim Clijsters won the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award after her remarkable return to tennis in 2009 when she won the US Open Grand Slam title in only her third tournament following a two-year absence.
There was a warm reception at the Awards Ceremony for courageous South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, who is breaking down the barriers between disabled and able-bodied sport, as she received the Laureus Disability Award. While Australia’s three-times World Surfing Champion Stephanie Gilmore was named Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year.
Laureus Academy Member Nawal El Moutawakel received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award for her work for women in sport and the International Olympic Committee. And the Laureus Sport for Good Award went to American basketball legend Dikembe Mutombo, for his charitable work in his native Congo.
The 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the period January 1 – December 31, 2009, 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 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time. The living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today.
The names of the winners were announced at a televised Awards Ceremony staged at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi which also celebrated the first ten years in the life of Laureus and was attended by global figures from the world of sport and entertainment.
The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy present were: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Nadia Comaneci, Kapil Dev, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Mika Hakkinen, Tony Hawk, Mike Horn, Kip Keino, Edwin Moses, Nawal El Moutawakel, Robby Naish, Alexey Nemov, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Monica Seles, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba and Steve Waugh.
Double Oscar-winning Hollywood star Kevin Spacey hosted the glittering Awards Ceremony. Among the guests in a packed auditorium at the Emirates Palace were Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, British film stars Hugh Grant and Clive Owen, American actors Kyle MacLachlan from Desperate Housewives and Michelle Rodriguez who played leading roles in the Oscar-winning movie Avatar and the TV series Lost, Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Mika who earlier drew up to the red carpet in a spectacular gull-wing Mercedes-Benz, England Test cricketer Andrew Flintoff, Formula One winner David Coulthard, world boxing champion Amir Khan, Olympic rowing legend Steve Redgrave, and supermodel Jessica Michibata.
The 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards are supported by Host Partner Aabar Investments PJSC. Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, offers a fascinating combination of the old and the new; a blend of Arabian hospitality and mystique where a mixture of culture and tradition come together against a backdrop of the most modern world-class infrastructure. Abu Dhabi is developing a reputation as a leading international sporting venue. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the latest high profile sports event to be staged in Abu Dhabi. Last year Abu Dhabi was chosen to stage football’s FIFA Club World Cup, and the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship are now highlights of the sporting calendar in the city.
The Awards were announced in seven categories. The winners were:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Usain Bolt
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Serena Williams
Laureus World Team of the Year: Brawn GP Formula One
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Jenson Button
Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Kim Clijsters
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Natalie du Toit
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Stephanie Gilmore
There were two additional Awards: The Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to athletics legend Nawal El Moutawakel, while American basketball star Dikembe Mutombo won the Laureus Sport for Good Award for his charitable work in the Congo.