The 2021 Formula 1 World champion Max Verstappen has been awarded as the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year after winning his maiden F1 World championship title, while three time Olympic gold medal winner at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Elaine Thompson-Herah has been honoured with the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award.
Several other notable athletes were given the prestigious Laureus award during a digital ceremony hosted from Seville, are 2021 US Open women’s singles tennis champion Emma Raducanu, who received the Laureus ‘World Breakthrough of the Year Award’, while the Laureus ‘World Team of the Year’ was awarded to the Italian national football team who won the Euro 2020 title last year.
This year saw the Laureus World Sports Academy making some special presentations to give some well needed recognition to three giants of sports – Tom Brady, seven-time winner of the Super Bowl (Laureus Award for Lifetime Achievement Award), footballer Robert Lewandowski (Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award for breaking Gerd Muller’s long-standing goalscoring record in the Bundesliga), and veteran motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi (Laureus Sporting Icon Award, after retiring in November at the end of a 25-year career).
“I was very happy, of course, but it was a lot of hard work and years of preparation. I’m incredibly proud. Since I was a little kid I dreamt of being on the top step and winning the championship. I said to my dad (Former F1 driver Jos Verstappen) ‘We did it, this is what we worked for all these years and now we are here, the two of us, all the memories, all the years of travelling all over Europe, going for that one goal and we achieved it’. Max Verstappen said about his experience of winning his first F1 title in the Abu Dhabi Prix 2021.
“I’m the first Dutch driver to win the World Championship, so the reaction back in Holland was amazing from all the newspapers and fans, it’s something we’ll never forget. It means a lot to be recognised for this award, one of the highest ones in the world, so I’m incredibly happy.”
Elaine Thompson-Herah, who is also known as the female Usain Bolt, defended her 100 and 200m Olympic titles in Tokyo, and also won a third gold in the 4x100m relay. “I know Usain has won the Laureus Award before, so to bring this trophy back home to the Caribbean, also in Jamaica, is very special.
“I have watched that (100m) race about a thousand times now. I would say I am very, very proud, but I cannot dwell on the past. Even though it’s very special, it’s memories. I cannot just sit and say ‘OK, I’m a double Olympic champion, I’m a five-time Olympic gold medallist. I have to continue working because my motivation is to be even better. I told myself that I want to be the greatest female sprinter, so I am just going to focus on what the future holds for me.” she said
Emma Raducanu, the first tennis player who has won a grand slam after coming into the tournament as a qualifier also got a deserving recognition. She had played a total of three rounds of qualifying followed by seven main draw matches to lift the US Open without even dropping a set. Emma was grateful for the recognition and said, “It’s been a great year for me. Thank you to all the Laureus Academy Members for voting for me.”
One of the best strikers in World football Robert Lewandowski was given the honour as he broke the Bundesliga goal scoring record in a single season which was held by Germany legend Gerd Muller who scored 40 goals in the 1971/72 season. The Polish striker scored his 41st goal of the season for Bayern Munich in the very last minute of the last game and managed to break the long standing record. To honour the achievement and celebrate Lewandowski’s social conscience, he was presented with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award, an honour which has only been given five times in the past.
“It really means a lot to be recognised and appreciated by such wonderful people, athletes, legends from all over the world of sport. It has a very special meaning to me as an athlete and a man,” said Lewandowski.
Here is the full list of winners at the Laureus award ceremony:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award: Max Verstappen.
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award: Elaine Thompson-Herah.
Laureus World Team of the Year Award: Italy Men’s Football Team.
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award: Emma Raducanu.
Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award: Sky Brown.
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award: Marcel Hug.
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award: Bethany Shriever.
Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award: Tom Brady.
Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award: Robert Lewandowski.
Laureus Sporting Icon Award: Valentino Rossi.
Laureus Sport for Good Award: Lost Boyz Inc.
Laureus Sport for Good Society Award: Real Madrid Foundation.
Laureus Athlete Advocate of the Year Award: Gerald Asamoah and the Black Eagles.
(Inputs from IANS)