POSTED: Thursday March 12th 2009


List of superstars headline this year\'s nominees

•    Usain Bolt v Michael Phelps in the Battle of the Olympians
•    Lewis Hamilton, Padraig Harrington, Wladimir Klitschko, Valentino Rossi also among strong contenders for nomination
•    Spain’s Rafael Nadal takes over as tennis World No.1
•    42-goal striker Cristiano Ronaldo heads impressive shortlist from football
•    Nominees, venue & date for 2009 Laureus World Sports Awards to be announced on April 16
•    Laureus Media Selection Panel to vote for six nominees
•    For more details on possible contenders go to

LONDON, March 12, 2009 - A spectacular year of sport has set up one of the most exciting contests ever for the 2009 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, featuring the ultimate Olympic battle – Usain Bolt v Michael Phelps.

Jamaica sprint king Usain Bolt earned the title of ‘fastest man on Earth’ when he won 100 metres, 200 metres and sprint relay gold medals, with world records in every event, in Beijing in August, while American swim star Michael Phelps became an Olympic legend when he won eight gold medals in Beijing, overtaking the feat of Laureus Academy member Mark Spitz who won seven in Munich in 1972.

The tenth Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the calendar year 2008, are widely acknowledged as the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The names of the Nominees, the venue and date of the 2009 Laureus World Sports Awards will be announced by April 16.

But it is by no means certain to be an Olympic walkover for the 2009 Laureus Awards. There are many other strong contenders for nomination after a glittering year of sporting action. In motor sport, Britain’s Lewis Hamilton became the youngest ever Formula One World Champion at the age of 23 years and 300 days, winning by just one point in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, after one of the most dramatic ends Formula One has ever seen. Italy’s Valentino Rossi won his sixth senior Moto GP World Championship and overtook Giacomo Agostini’s career record of 68 500cc wins. And France’s Sebastien Loeb won a record fifth consecutive World Rally Championship.

Spain’s Rafael Nadal, at 22, took over from Roger Federer as tennis World No 1 in August 2008. During the season, he won the Olympic gold medal in Beijing, secured his fourth straight French Open and won his first Wimbledon title, beating Federer on his favourite grass surface. And Ireland’s Padraig Harrington became the most successful golfer in the world, winning two of the four major championships in 2008 – the British Open Championship at Birkdale in July and the US PGA Championship at Oakland Hills in August.

There will be six nominees in the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year category and the Beijing Olympics produced several other strong contenders. Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele became the first man in 25 years to win the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres gold medals in the same Olympic Games, Britain’s Chris Hoy won three gold medals to become most successful Olympic male cyclist of all time and Chinese gymnast Zou Kai, at 20, on his Olympic debut, became only the second Chinese man to win three gold medals at a single Olympiad. German/South African Jan Frodeno surprisingly beat pre-race favourite Simon Whitfield to win the men’s trialthlon in a four-man sprint finish.

Football provides many strong contenders. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo scored 42 goals for English club Manchester United in the 2007/08 season in which they won the European Champions League for the third time and the English Premier League. He was voted FIFA World Player of the Year, UEFA Club Player of the Year and FIFPro World Player of Year.

Xavi was named Best Player of the 2008 European Championship after playing a key part in Spain’s success. Fernando Torres scored the winning goal for Spain in the European Championship final against Germany and in 2007/08 scored 33 goals for England Premier League team Liverpool. And Barcelona’s Samuel Eto\‘o was the leading scorer with five goals for Cameroon in the 2008 African Nations Cup, which made him the all-time record goalscorer in the competition.

American Football’s Eli Manning was quarterback for New York Giants in their remarkable 17-14 Super Bowl win over the then unbeaten New England Patriots. Manning threw two crucial touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to win the game and was named Most Valuable Player. In total he completed 19 of 34 passes for 255 yards. He and his brother Peyton, who led Indianapolis Colts to victory in 2006, are the only brothers to play at quarterback in the Super Bowl and the only ones to win Super Bowl MVP.

In boxing Wladimir Klitschko beat Sultan Ibragimov at Madison Square Garden in February to unify the IBF and WBO versions of the world heavyweight title. The Klitschko-Ibragimov fight was the first heavyweight unification since Evander Holyfield v Lennox Lewis in 1999. In July in Hamburg, Klitschko defended his titles against Tony Thompson and in December in Mannheim he stopped Hasim Rahman.

Rated the No.1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world by the authoritative Ring magazine, the Philippines Manny Pacquiao beat boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas, in December, in a hugely anticipated welterweight fight. Many observers thought Pacquiao, a lighter fighter, was taking on too much fighting above his natural weight, but he was so much in control that De La Hoya retired in the eighth round. Britain’s undefeated Joe Calzaghe produced one of the great fights of his career, at Madison Square Gardens, in November, to defeat American legend Roy Jones Jnr. Calzaghe was knocked down in the first round, but fought back for a unanimous verdict from the judges in the light heavyweight fight to improve his career record to 46 wins with 32 knockouts. And Australia’s Vic Darchinyan became the first man in history to unify the WBA. WBC, IBO and IBF World Super Flyweight Championships, after his victory over WBC and WBA champion Cristian Mijares in Carson, California in November.

No one can forget the moment in Beijing when Germany weightlifter Matthias Steiner climbed on to the rostrum to receive his super-heavyweight gold medal, clutching a picture of his wife Susann who died in a car crash a year earlier. Following the accident, Steiner had flung himself into his sport as if it was the only thing that could make life bearable and in his very last lift in the competition he triumphantly raised 258kg to take the gold medal.

American skier Bode Miller won his second overall World Cup title in four years in 2007/08. This led the United States ski team to win men’s and women’s overall titles for the first time in 25 years, with Lindsey Vonn winning the women\‘s crown. With 31 World Cup victories, Miller is the most successful American alpine skier.

In cricket, India’s Sachin Tendulkar, one of the greatest batsmen in the history of the sport, overtook Brian Lara’s record of 11,953 Test runs in October and became the first batsman to score more than 12,000 runs. He is also the highest run scorer in One Day Internationals, scoring more than 16,000 runs, over 3,500 ahead of the nearest challenger. Guyana’s Shivnarine Chanderpaul achieved the ranking of No 1 batsman in the world in 2008 and was voted ICC Cricketer of the Year as his rich vein of form continued during the Sri Lankan and Australian tours of the Caribbean. By the end of the Third Test against Australia, Chanderpaul had become the fourth West Indian batsman to reach 8,000 runs in Test cricket. And South African bowler Dale Steyn was named ICC Test Player of the Year after becoming the fastest South African to reach 100 wickets in Test cricket in March. He currently has the second best bowling strike rate of all time in Test cricket.

Double Olympic gold medallist Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “I can rarely remember a year when there has been such a strong line-up of potential nominees in the Laureus Sportsman of the Year category. The Olympic Games in Beijing produced some truly historic performances, but then you look at other sports and there are phenomenal feats everywhere. I think the world’s media will have a difficult job coming up with a list of just six from all the possible names and I think there is going to be quite a debate over the next few months about who should win.”

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 from over 120 countries votes to create a shortlist of six nominations in various categories including Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, Laureus World Team of the Year, Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year and Laureus World Comeback of the Year.

The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy then vote by secret ballot to select the Award winners. The Laureus Academy is the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time, who have made an outstanding contribution to world sport.

The Laureus Academy members also vote for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year, the nominations for which are made by specialist panels.

The 2008 Awards Ceremony in St.Petersburg, held in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was attended by global figures from sport, entertainment, business and fashion. In addition to members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, among the guests present were Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, England football coach Fabio Capello, Russian swimming star Alexander Popov, Paralympic ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius and Tour De France winner Alberto Contador. From the world of entertainment there was Kim Cattrall, Cuba Gooding Jnr, Dennis Hopper and Kyle MacLachlan. Among the legends of sport who were present to receive Awards were tennis legends Roger Federer and Justine Henin, British racing driver Lewis Hamiton, wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer and members of the South African team, which won the Rugby World Cup.

For further information please contact:
Mal Thompson
Laureus Global Communications
Tel: +44 (0)20 7514 2749
Fax: +44 (0)20 7514 2782
Photo Archive:

For photos of Laureus events please visit
NB: Information correct at time of going to press



The Patron of Laureus is Nelson Mandela. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, President Mandela said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus; the driving force behind its work.

Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good. Laureus is composed of three core elements - the Laureus World Sports Academy, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Laureus World Sports Awards - which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and harness the power of sport to promote social change.

The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy are: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Severiano Ballesteros, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Yaping Deng, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, David Douillet, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Häkkinen, Tony Hawk, Mike Horn, Miguel Indurain, Michael Johnson, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Dan Marino, John McEnroe, Edwin Moses (Chairman), Nawal El Moutawakel, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Alexei Nemov, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Vivian Richards, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh and Katarina Witt.

The Laureus Academy members volunteer their services as global ambassadors for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which was set up to promote the use of sport as a tool for social change. The Foundation addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception Laureus has raised €20 million for projects which have helped improve the lives of over one million young people. The Foundation addresses issues in particular involving, but not limited to, young people impacted by social exclusion, gun and gang violence, discrimination, community integration, peace and reconciliation, and education.

The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury - the 46 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today. The Awards are presented at an annual Awards Ceremony, attended by global figures from sport and entertainment, which is broadcast to 180 countries.

Laureus was founded by its Patrons Daimler and Richemont and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz, IWC Schaffhausen and Vodafone.

Mercedes-Benz, the world’s oldest automaker, can look back on a unique tradition. The premium brand stands for modern, innovative automobiles, for quality, safety, comfort and design. Mercedes-Benz enjoys an excellent reputation, particularly in the area of safety technology. Many pioneering technical innovations that are standard automotive features today were first seen in a Mercedes-Benz car. The car with the star also has an excellent reputation with regard to quality, value for money and customer satisfaction. Mercedes-Benz is a Global Partner of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Since the beginning of the Foundations’ operations in 2000, Mercedes-Benz has shared and supported the goals and values of this worldwide charity programme where sports play the core role in the fight against social issues - Laureus has become a vital element of the corporate social responsibility programme of Mercedes-Benz.

IWC Schaffhausen
For more than a century, IWC Schaffhausen has been producing precision products of complex functionality and outstanding user-friendliness for watch connoisseurs who expect more from their watch than just having an accurate timekeeper. Since its foundation in 1868, the International Watch Company has built up a reputation as a long-established Swiss watchmaking firm with a passion for inventions, innovative solutions and technical refinements. Today the brand is more successful than at any time in its history. IWC uses this strength in a programme of corporate social responsibility initiatives at home and abroad. In 2005, IWC entered into a long-term commitment to become a Global Partner of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.

Vodafone, the world\‘s leading international mobile communications group, with approximately 280 million proportionate customers and equity interests in 27 countries across five continents and a further 40 partner networks worldwide, is supporting Laureus as a Global Partner, with a five year agreement which began in 2008 and concludes in 2012. Vodafone is a long-standing supporter of sport sponsorship and is pleased to be part of an organisation that celebrates sporting excellence both at a grass roots level through the humanitarian work worldwide of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and at elite level through the annual Laureus World Sports Awards, which honours the achievements of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen.

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Keywords · Usain Bolt · Michael Phelps · Lewis Hamilton · Padraig Harrington · Wladimir Klitschko · Valentino Rossi · Rafael Nadal · Cristiano Ronaldo

Name: Mal Thompson
Organization: Laureus Foundation
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7514 2749

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