LONDON, April 6, 2006 – A glittering collection of the world’s greatest sports stars has been nominated for the 2006 Laureus World Sports Awards. Among those shortlisted are Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong, World tennis No.1 Roger Federer, brilliant Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho, and foremost golfers Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods.
The Laureus World Sports Awards is the only global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury - the 42 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, a collection of the world’s greatest sportsmen and women. T he living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today.
The names of the winners will be announced during a televised Awards Ceremony staged at the Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona , Spain , on the evening of May 22, 2006.
At the announcement of the 2006 Nominations in Barcelona, Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “This has been a vintage year for sport and the Academy are going to find it extremely difficult to decide who to vote for. We have great names in every category. The nominations reflect the immense strength of sport at the moment. I congratulate those who have been nominated before and those who have been shortlisted for the first time.‿
American Lance Armstrong, who won a record seventh Tour de France in 2005, Switzerland’s Roger Federer, who won his third Wimbledon crown, plus the US and Australian Opens, and Tiger Woods, who won the US Masters and the Open Championship, have been nominated again for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, which they have all won. In addition to Ronaldinho, in that category they will also be up against Spain’s Fernando Alonso, the youngest ever winner of the Formula One World Championship, and Italy’s Valentino Rossi, five-times World MotoGP Champion.
Laureus Academy member Emerson Fittipaldi, who held the record as the youngest ever Formula One World Champion until Alonso’s triumph, said: “He is an exceptional driver. My record was going to be broken one day and I am delighted that it is a real racer like Alonso who has done it. If he can continue finding a car to drive as competitive as the one he is in now, then he can continue winning World Championships.‿
Of Roger Federer, Laureus Academy member and tennis legend Boris Becker said: “It has been an incredible year for tennis and for Federer. He Has won seven Grand Slams now. He is halfway there to matching Sampras’ record of 14. If he stays healthy, motivated and inspired I see no reason why he should not reach 14.‿
Sweden ’s Annika Sorenstam, the leading women’s golfer in the world, won ten times on the LPGA Tour in 2005, including two major championships, and has been nominated for her second Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award, in what is a very competitive category.
Five of her rivals are also former nominees: Yelena Isinbayeva, who broke the five-metres pole vault barrier; Carolina Kluft, who successfully defended her heptathlon title in the World Athletics Championships; Janica Kostelic, who won a record fourth Alpine gold medal in the Winter Olympics; Paula Radcliffe, winner of the marathon in the World Championships; and Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open and eight other tennis tournaments after being out for a year with a wrist injury. Also nominated is Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, who became the first woman to win the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres double in the World Championships. Because of a tie in the Media Selection Panel voting, there is a seventh nominee in this category.
Two football teams, Spanish club FC Barcelona and Liverpool, the English team who won the European Champions League last year, have been nominated for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award, along with the winning Croatia Davis Cup team, the New Zealand rugby team, who won 11 out of 12 Test matches in 2005, Formula One Constructors World Champions Renault and basketball team San Antonio Spurs, who won the NBA Finals for the third time in seven years.
Two young tennis stars who have a big future predicted for them, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, have been nominated for the Laureus World Newcomer of the Year Award. Spain’s Nadal won the French Open at 19, beating Roger Federer in the semi-finals on his 19th birthday, while Scotland’s Andy Murray, 18, won his first ATP tournament in 2005. Other nominees in the category are American golfer Paula Creamer, 19, who won four tournaments in her rookie year, brilliant Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi, who captained Argentina to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, American Danica Patrick, who became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500, and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, the youngest quarterback in a winning Super Bowl side.
Laureus Academy member Boris Becker says of Murray: “He may only have won one ATP tournament, but the potential he has for the future is enormous. For someone just 18 he shows an incredible ability to handle himself on court and does not seem to get phased by the big matches. Britain may at last have the Wimbledon champion that it has longed for.‿
France’s Winter Olympics hero Antoine Dénériaz, who came back after a training accident to win the downhill gold medal, has been nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award with Sweden’s Kajsa Bergqvist, who fought b ack from serious achilles tendon injury to win the World Championship high jump gold, Belgium’s Kim Clijsters, who is only the third person ever to be nominated in two categories, Martina Hingis, who won the Australian Open mixed doubles title after an absence of three years, New Zealand rugby player Jonah Lomu, who made a comeback with Cardiff after a rare kidney disease, and Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie, who won the European Order of Merit for the first time since 1999.
Laureus Academy member Franz Klammer, who won the Winter Olympics downhill gold medal at Innsbruck in 1976, said of Dénériaz: “This was one of the greatest downhill surprises I can remember, and also one of the most remarkable displays of personal courage. Antoine showed such determination to come back from such an awful accident that it has to be regarded as one of the most memorable Olympic races ever.‿
Dutch wheelchair tennis champion Esther Vergeer, a winner in 2002, has been nominated once again for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award. Other nominees are Germany’s Kirsten Bruhn, who broke nine Paralympic world swimming records in 2005, Hungary’s Zsuzsanna Krajnyak, who won four gold medals in the European Wheelchair Fencing Championships, Finland’s Leo-Pekka Tahti, who won two wheelchair racing gold medals in the IPS European Championships, South Africa’s Ernst van Dyk, who won the Boston Marathon wheelchair race for the fifth straight time, and Kenya’s Henry Wanyoike, who broke the visually impaired world marathon record twice in seven days.
Sadly Italian hang-glider Angelo d’Arrigo, who was nominated for the Laureus World Alternative Sportsperson of the Year Award , was killed in an air crash in Italy on March 26, but it has been decided that his name should remain on the list of nominees. The category is dominated by five Americans, Tanner Hall, the only freeskier to win a gold medal in every Winter X-Games since 1999, Kelly Slater, who won an unprecedented seventh world surfing championship at 33, J eremy Stenberg, who won Winter X-Games gold for the best trick in freestyle motocross, Danny Way, who jumped the Great Wall of China on a skateboard, and Shaun White, who won the men’s snowboard half-pipe gold medal at the Winter Olympics. The only non-American nominee is Australia’s Chelsea Georgeson, the first winner of the women’s triple crown of surfing.
There is a two-part voting process to find the winners of the Laureus World Sports Awards. Firstly, a selection panel of the world’s leading sports editors, writers and broadcasters vote to produce a shortlist of six nominees in five categories – Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, Laureus World Team of the Year, Laureus World Newcomer of the Year and Laureus World Comeback of the Year. This year a total of 737 members of the Media Selection Panel voted from 99 countries.
The nominations for two additional categories - the Laureus World Alternative Sportsperson of the Year and the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability – are produced by specialist panels. The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy then vote by secret ballot to select the Award winners.
Last year's Awards Ceremony, in the presence of His Majesty The King of Spain, was attended by members of the Laureus Academy and Hollywood stars Jackie Chan, Morgan Freeman, Teri Hatcher and Marcia Gay Harden. Among the award winners present were Roger Federer, Kelly Holmes and Greece football coach Otto Rehhagel.
Barcelona , the capital of Catalonia, is a city with an enormous sporting tradition which has staged the most important sports events. The immensely successful 1992 Olympic Games gave a new impulse to sport in the city. Sport is a part of everyday life in Barcelona and during the past few years the number of high-level international championships staged in the city has multiplied. Therefore it is no surprise that Barcelona was chosen to host the Laureus World Sports Awards in 2006.
Barcelona is a Mediterranean and metropolitan city with the most modern facilities. Its unique architecture, artistic ambience and many tourist attractions have made Barcelona one of the most visited cities in the world. A business and leisure city, it is the ideal place to organise such an important moment of the sporting year - the Laureus Awards Ceremony.
The full list of nominees for the 2006 Laureus World Sports Awards is:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
Fernando Alonso (Spain) – youngest winner of the Formula One World Championship
Lance Armstrong (US) – winner of Tour de France cycle race for record seventh time
Roger Federer (Switzerland) – winner of three Grand Slam tennis events
Ronaldinho (Brazil) – flamboyant football playmaker with Brazil and FC Barcelona
Valentino Rossi (Italy) - winner of fifth World MotoGP Championship
Tiger Woods (US) – winner of US Masters and Open Championship golf majors
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year
Kim Clijsters (Belgium) – winner of US Open and eight other tennis tournaments in 2005
Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia) – winner of World Championship 5,000m and 10,000m double
Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) – broke pole vault 5 metres barrier, IAAF Athlete of Year
Carolina Kluft (Sweden) – winner of World Championship heptathlon
Janica Kostelic (Croatia) – winner of record fourth Winter Olympics gold medal in Turin
Paula Radcliffe (UK) – won her first global gold medal in World Championship marathon
Annika Sorenstam (Sweden) – won 10 of 20 golf tournaments she entered, including two majors
*There are seven nominees in this category after the Media Selection Panel vote
resulted in a tie for sixth place
Laureus World Team of the Year
FC Barcelona (Spain) – winners of Spanish football’s La Liga and Supercopa de Espana
Croatia Davis Cup Team – winners for the first time of the Davis Cup
Liverpool (UK) – winners of the European Champions League for the fifth time
New Zealand Rugby Team – dominant team of the year, winning 11 out of 12 matches
Renault (France) – won Formula One Constructors World Championship
San Antonio Spurs (US) – won NBA Finals for the third time in seven years
Laureus World Newcomer of the Year
Paula Creamer (US) – aged 19, winner of four golf tournaments in her rookie year
Lionel Messi (Argentina) – aged 18, captain of winning Under-20 World Cup football team
Andrew Murray (UK) - aged 18, winner of his first ATP tennis event
Rafael Nadal (Spain ) – aged 19, won French Open tennis, plus ten other events in 2005
Danica Patrick (US) – aged 23, first female driver to lead the Indianapolis 500, ultimately finishing 4th
Ben Roethlisberger (US) – aged 24, youngest quarterback to play in a Super Bowl winning team
Laureus World Comeback of the Year
Kajsa Bergqvist (Sweden) – won World Championship high jump gold after serious injury
Kim Clijsters (Belgium) – winner of US Open tennis after being injured for a year
Antoine Dénériaz (France) – winner of Olympic downhill gold after serious training accident
Martina Hingis (Switzerland) – won Australian Open mixed doubles after three year absence
Jonah Lomu (New Zealand) – returned to rugby after serious kidney disorder
Colin Montgomerie (UK) – won record eighth golf European Order of Merit after slump in form
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Kirsten Bruhn (Germany) – broke nine Paralympic world swimming records in 2005
Zsuzsanna Krajnyak (Hungary) – four gold medals in European Wheelchair Fencing Championships
Leo-Pekka Tahti (Finland) – two wheelchair racing gold medals in IPS European Championships
Ernst van Dyk (South Africa) – won Boston Marathon wheelchair race for fifth straight time
Esther Vergeer (Netherlands) – wheelchair tennis player unbeaten in 55 matches in 2005
Henry Wanyoike (Kenya) – broke visually impaired world marathon record twice in seven days
Laureus World Alternative Sportsperson of the Year
Angelo d’Arrigo (Italy) – established a new height record for hang-gliding in 2005
Chelsea Georgeson (Australia) – first to win the women’s triple crown of surfing
Tanner Hall (US) - only freeskier to win a gold medal in every Winter X-Games since 1999
Kelly Slater (US) – won an unprecedented seventh world surfing championship at 33
Jeremy Stenberg (US) – won Winter X-Games gold for best trick in freestyle motocross
Danny Way (US) – jumped the Great Wall of China on a skateboard
Shaun White (US) – won men’s snowboard half-pipe gold medal at the Winter Olympics