The world’s sports media have cast their votes and the nominees for the 22nd annual Laureus World Sports Awards have been revealed. The greatest sportsmen, sportswomen and teams will discover in the next few months if they have won a prestigious Laureus Statuette. This year the Laureus Awards will not be presented at an open ceremony, but individually to winners due to the continuing global pandemic. The winners will be announced in May as part of a ‘Virtual’ Awards event.
The Awards will reflect a unique year of sport when athletes used their platforms to instil hope, influence change in society and prove that sport can change the world for the better. While celebrating the highest sporting achievements, this year’s Laureus Awards will also honour those whose actions have transcended the court, track or field of play.
Former winners Lewis Hamilton and Rafael Nadal have been nominated again for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award. In 2020 Hamilton won a record-equalling seventh Formula One World Championship and Nadal won his 20th Grand Slam to tie Roger Federer. Also nominated are NBA super star LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich, winner of the Best FIFA Men’s Player award, and two hopeful Olympians – Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, who broke both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres world records, and Sweden’s Armand Duplantis, who created new outdoor and indoor pole vault world records.
Reflecting on his nomination, Lewis said: “It’s an honour to have been nominated for ‘Sportsman of the Year’ alongside some truly incredible athletes. When I look back at the award ceremony last year, it’s hard to believe just how much has changed. 2020 was a difficult year for so many people, for many different reasons and of course the world of sport was hugely affected. I was fortunate enough to be able to race and I’m so proud of what we, as a team, were able to achieve together. I’m even prouder of the journey we began towards making the motorsport industry more diverse and inclusive. Nelson Mandela was the inspiration behind Laureus and I’m sure he would support everything we can do, to use sport to achieve a greater good.”
On his nomination, Robert Lewandowski said: “I have been working so hard for many, many years to reach the point I did in 2020 and I am grateful that the world’s media acknowledged that. I was honoured to win the FIFA Best Player Award and now to be nominated for this Laureus Award is special. I know that Lionel Messi is the only team player to win, and he had to share it with Lewis Hamilton, so maybe I can go one better. Thank you to the hundreds of members of the international sports media who voted for me. It is a great honour for me.”
Australian Open champion, Naomi Osaka, winner of the Laureus Breakthrough Award in 2019, is nominated for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award, after her second US Open win in September. Also short-listed are Holland’s Anna van der Breggen, who won both road race and time trial at the World Cycling Championships, Italy’s Federica Brignone, skiing’s World Cup winner, Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei, winner of the London Marathon, Wendie Renard, captain of Lyon who won a fifth straight Women’s Champions League, and basketball’s Breanna Stewart, who led Seattle Storm to the WNBA Championship.
Reacting to her nomination, Osaka said: "It is an honour to once again be nominated for a Laureus Award by the world's media. For me this is special because Laureus sees the big picture – not just sport on the court or the pitch, but how it can help young people around the world. This is a time that sport can make a big difference in so many ways and really help to change the world."
Football’s Bayern Munich, winners of the Champions League, and Liverpool, who won their first English Premier League title for 30 years, are nominated for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award, along with NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers, Formula One constructors’ champions Mercedes AMG-Petronas, the Kansas City Chiefs, who won the 2020 Super Bowl, and the Argentina Men’s Rugby Team.
The nominations for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award include some of the most incredible young sporting talent to make an impact in 2020. Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar, 21, became the youngest rider in a century to win the Tour de France, Barcelona’s Ansu Fati, 17, is Spain’s youngest ever goalscorer, while his fellow Spaniard Joan Mir, 23, won his first Moto GP World Championship. Poland’s Iga Swiatek, 19, won the French Open to become the youngest women’s singles champion at Roland Garros since Monica Seles in 1992, while Austria’s Dominic Thiem, 27, won his first ever Grand Slam at the US Open. Patrick Mahomes led Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl win in 50 years.
The Laureus World Comeback of the Year Nominees personify the true spirit, determination and tenacity of athletes who have overcome hurdles to return to action. Top women’s skier Mikaela Shiffrin came back from a break following her father’s death to start winning again, Japan’s Kento Momota, badminton’s world No 1, returned to competition after surviving a serious car crash, Canada’s Max Parrot recovered from cancer to win two X-Games snowboarding gold medals, Alex Smith came back to play for Washington in the NFL 728 days and 17 operations after a leg injury, baseball’s Daniel Bard returned to top level pitching after a seven-year hiatus due to ‘yips’, and US football star Alex Morgan made her debut for London club Tottenham just 184 days after giving birth.
For the first time ever, three Sport for Development programmes have been shortlisted alongside the Nominees for the Laureus Awards, reflecting the outstanding contribution made by grassroots sports organisations throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic. In contention for the Laureus Sport for Good Award are; Boxgirls Kenya, a programme using boxing to empower at-risk girls in underserved slum communities in Nairobi; Fundación Colombianitos, a Colombian organisation using football and rugby to promote education and bridge gender gaps and KICKFORMORE, a football organisation that encourages participants to make positive contributions in their communities in Germany.
As well as recognising the most memorable sporting performances to have taken place in 2020, despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, this year there will be additional special Laureus Awards acknowledging the wider impact on society made by athletes.
The Awards will tell the inspirational stories of people who have worked tirelessly to combat the pandemic, and will highlight the advocacy of sportsmen and sportswomen who have used their positions of influence to make a powerful impact on issues and conflicts which transcend sport.
Sean Fitzpatrick, Chair of the Laureus World Sports Academy, whose 68 members vote for the winners of the Awards, said: “After a challenging year, we are more determined than ever to ensure that Laureus honours the men and women who made such an effort to return to sport, in many cases in a very different environment and without spectators. They gave everybody an emotional lift at a difficult time.
“As Academy Members, we are also proud to see the three shortlisted Sport for Good Award programmes among these high achieving athletes. Working in often challenging circumstances in disadvantaged communities around the world, these programmes showcase the best of sport, and they have all done so well to continue using sport as a tool for social change in the face of adversity.”
In view of the significantly reduced amount of activity which took place in some sports in 2020, the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award and the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award will not be presented, although sports from these categories will be recognised elsewhere in the Awards show.
List of nominees for Laureus World Sports Awards 2021:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award
Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda) Athletics – broke both 5,000 and 10,000 metres world records in 2020
Armand Duplantis (Sweden) Athletics – broke outdoor and indoor pole vault world record in 2020
Lewis Hamilton (UK) Motor Racing – won record-equalling seventh Formula One World Championship
LeBron James (USA) Basketball – LA Lakers star, won his fourth NBA title and fourth Finals MVP award
Robert Lewandowski (Poland) Football – 55 goals as Bayern Munich won Champions League, Bundesliga
Rafael Nadal (Spain) Tennis – won 13th French Open; his 20th career Grand Slam to equal Roger Federer
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award
Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) Cycling – won both road race and time trial at World Championships
Federica Brignone (Italy) Skiing – first Italian woman to win Overall World Cup; also Combined and G. Slalom
Brigid Kosgei (Kenya) Athletics – won rescheduled London Marathon by more than three minutes
Naomi Osaka (Japan) Tennis – won second US Open in 2020, her third career Grand Slam, at age 22
Wendie Renard (France) Football – captain of Lyon who won a fifth straight Women’s Champions League
Breanna Stewart (USA) Basketball – led Seattle Storm to WNBA Championship; won Finals MVP award
Laureus World Team of the Year Award
Argentina Men's Rugby Team - first ever win over three-time world champions the All Blacks
Bayern Munich (Germany) Football – won Champions League, Bundesliga, German Cup under Hansi Flick
Kansas City Chiefs (USA) American Football – won the Super Bowl for the first time since 1970
Liverpool (UK) Football – under Jurgen Klopp won first English Premier League title for 30 years
Los Angeles Lakers (USA) Basketball – inspired by LeBron James, won their 17th NBA Championship
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team (Germany) – record 7th consecutive Constructors’ Championship
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award
Ansu Fati (Spain) Football – at 17, became youngest scorer for Spain and in El Clasico for Barcelona
Patrick Mahomes (USA) American Football – at 24, led Kansas City Chiefs to first Super Bowl win in 50 years
Joan Mir (Spain) Motor Cycling – at 23, won his first Moto GP World Championship
Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia) Cycling – at 21, became the youngest rider in a century to win the Tour de France
Iga Swiatek (Poland) Tennis – at 19, became the youngest French Open winner since 1992
Dominic Thiem (Austria) Tennis – won first ever Grand Slam at US Open; reached final of Australian Open
Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award
Daniel Bard (USA) Baseball – successful return to top level after not pitching for seven years because of ‘yips’
Kento Momota (Japan) Badminton – world No 1 returned to competition after surviving serious car crash
Alex Morgan (USA) Football – debut for London club Tottenham just 184 days after giving birth
Max Parrot (Canada) Snowboarding – recovered from cancer to win two X-Games gold medals in 2020
Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) Skiing – came back from break following father’s death to start winning again
Alex Smith (USA) American Football – back for Washington 728 days and 17 operations after leg injury
Laureus Sport for Good Award
Boxgirls Kenya Boxing – supports and empowers at-risk girls in underserved slum communities in Nairobi
Fundación Colombianitos (Colombia) Football & Rugby – bridges gender gaps and promotes education through sport
KICKFORMORE (Germany) Football – empowers youth to make positive contributions in their communities