TORONTO, Canada – Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt – the fastest man on Earth – is the winner of the 2009 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, after his sensational performance in the Beijing Olympics.
In Beijing, Bolt became the first man in history to win the 100 metres (9.69secs), 200 metres (19.30secs) and 4×100 metres relay (37.10secs) gold medals in world record times in the same Olympiad. Bolt’s 200 metres time broke the long-standing world record of 19.32secs set by Laureus World Sports Academy member Michael Johnson in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Bolt, 22, received the world’s most prestigious sports Award from Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses and Academy member Michael Johnson on the eve of the Festival of Excellence track and field meet in Toronto, Canada.
After receiving the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, Bolt performed his trademark celebration, a lightning-like gesture with his arms, and said: “I am delighted to win this prestigious Award and would like to thank everyone who voted for me. It is an honour to succeed such greats as multiple winner Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher, Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods.”
Laureus World Sports Academy member Michael Johnson said: “Usain’s 100 metres in Beijing was the greatest sprinting performance I have ever seen, no doubt about it. His arrival on the scene over the last two years has been explosive and he thoroughly deserves to be Laureus World Sportsman of the Year.
“Every now and then comes an athlete for the times and I believe Usain Bolt is that athlete. It happened for me in 1996, it happened with Carl Lewis in 1984 and Jesse Owens in 1936 and now it is happening for Usain. He doesn’t just want to win races and medals, he wants to test the limits of human ability. I am happy for him and I congratulate him on breaking my 200 metres world record.
“I can’t say he’s the greatest sprinter I’ve ever seen – yet. For him to be the greatest, he’ll have to win gold at another Olympics or a World Championship, show some consistency and longevity. But there’s no reason for me to think he can’t do it,” added Johnson.
Bolt is in Canada to compete in the 100 metres race at the Festival of Excellence, a world-class track and field meeting to be held at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre on June 11.
World record holder for 100m and 200m, receives the Laureus World Sportsman of the year award during a ceremony and press conference held at The Four Seasons Hotel on June 10, 2009 in Toronto, Ontario.
(Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images for Laureus)
The other nominees for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award were Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals in Beijing, Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, who won the Olympic gold medal, plus his fourth straight French Open title and his first Wimbledon crown, motor sport racers Lewis Hamilton and Valentino Rossi and Portugal and Manchester United footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.