London has started the warm up preparations for the 2012 Olympics with a highlight of what promises to be an amazing year in the international sporting calendar: the Laureus World Sports Awards.
The ceremony recognizes top sports achievements during 2011 and the winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, made up of 47 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time.
As reported yesterday, the acclaimed winners of the prestigious awards were unveiled in a globally televised ceremony that took place at the London’s Central Hall, Westminster on Monday, February 6, 2012.
World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic snatched the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award after an outstanding 2011, where he won three Grand Slam titles, missing only the Rolland Garros crown, and dethroned Spain’s Rafael Nadal from the top of the ATP rankings.
The Laureus Sportswoman of the Year was awarded to Kenyan distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot, who won both 5,000 and 10,000 metres gold medals at the World Championships in Daegu.
FC Barcelona won the Laureus Team of the Year Award for winning the Champions League and the Spanish League in the 2010/11 season, under coach Pep Guardiola.
Northern Ireland couldn’t be prouder with the double golf triumph of Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke. The brilliant 22-year old golf star McIlroy was named winner of the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award after winning the US Open, his first Major Championship. And his 42-year old compatriot Clarke was awarded the Laureus Comeback Award for his Open Championship victory at Royal St.George’s at his 20th attempt.
American surfer Kelly Slater grabbed his fourth Laureus Award as the Action Sportsperson of the Year. He now equals Roger Federer’s record who is also a four-time Laureus Award winner.
Oscar Pistorius was presented with the Laureus Disability Award. His drive and performance as a double-amputee competing against able-bodied athletes at the Word Championships, where he won a silver medal in the 4 x 400 meters relay, are simply beyond words.
There were two additional awards. The Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to England’s football legend Bobby Charlton for his outstanding career. And finally, Laureus Sport for Good was awarded to former Brazilian international footballer Rai, who is now an active campaigner for social justice.
Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Clive Owen hosted the ceremony which was attended by world sport, entertainment and fashion celebrities like: Katarina Witt, Ilie Nastase, Giacomo Agostini, Emerson Fittipaldi, Nadia Comaneci, Boris Becker, Sir Alex Ferguson, Israeli actress and model Bar Refaeli, British actress Thandie Newton, and Brian Ferry, who also performed on stage.
The event, which had the full support of the UK Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson, raised the interest of a wide audience. The official Laureus website has been affected by an unprecedented demand and for now it only shows the list of 2012 winners in each category.