POSTED: Tuesday January 26th 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WHO CAN BEAT USAIN BOLT IN 2010? FIERCE COMPETITION FOR NOMINATIONS FOR LAUREUS WORLD SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD

World’s media vote for six Nominees for Laureus Sportsman Award

•  Roger Federer, Hideki Matsui, Kenenisa Bekele, Lionel Messi, Valentino Rossi and Alberto Contador among the Nomination hopefuls
•  Laureus World Sports Awards to be held in Abu Dhabi on March 10

LONDON, January 26, 2010 - A spectacular year of sport has set up one of the most exciting contests ever for the 2010 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award. The major question in the world of sport is whether anyone can stop the phenomenal Usain Bolt winning a second straight Laureus Award.

The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the period January 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009, are recognised as the premier honours on the international sporting calendar.

The names of the six Nominees for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, as voted by the Laureus Media Selection Panel, will be announced next month.

The eventual winners, chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time, will be unveiled during a televised Awards Ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, March 10, 2010.

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt followed his wonderful Olympic year with an equally spectacular 2009. At the World Championships in Berlin, Bolt won 100 metres, 200 metres and 4x100 metres relay gold medals, just as he had done in Beijing 12 months earlier. In the 100 metres, Bolt improved his world record with a time of 9.58 secs, taking over a tenth of a second off the previous record, the biggest ever margin of improvement since the introduction of electronic timing. He also won the 200 metres gold medal in a new world record time of 19.19 secs, breaking his own record by 0.11 secs.

Among the other favourites for Nomination is four-time Laureus winner Roger Federer. For him 2009 proved historic as he passed many tennis milestones. His victory over Robin Soderling at the French Open made him one of only six men to complete a career Grand Slam of Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Open titles. His sixth Wimbledon victory in July, in which he beat American Andy Roddick, gave him a new record of 15 Grand Slam wins, overtaking the long-standing record of Pete Sampras. And at the US Open, Federer reached his 21st Grand Slam final, though he lost to Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro, breaking a streak of 40 consecutive US Open wins.

Hideki Matsui, 35, became the first Japanese-born baseball star to be named Most Valuable Player in the World Series after playing a key role in New York Yankees victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. It was a series in which he more than lived up to his nickname ‘Godzilla,’ hitting .615 (8 for 13) with three home runs and eight RBI, including a World Series record-tying six RBI performance in Game Six. His performance in the World Series has made him a gigantic sporting hero in Japan.

Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele established himself as one of the greatest distance runners of all time after another remarkable year in which he achieved the first ever 5,000 and 10,000 metres double in the World Athletics Championships, in Berlin. In a front line career of more than eight years, Bekele has never been beaten at 10,000 metres and he has won gold at that distance in four straight World Championships. His double success in Berlin followed an equally stunning 2008 when he became the first man in 25 years to win the 5,000 and 10,000 metres in the same Olympic Games.

Brilliant young Argentinean footballer Lionel Messi, 22, had his most successful season ever in 2008/09, scoring 38 goals and playing a crucial part in a glittering year for Barcelona in which they won three competitions - the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish League and the Spanish Cup. In the Champions League final in Rome, he scored the second goal to secure a 2-0 win over Manchester United. He was named FIFA World Player of the Year in December.

One of the greatest motor cycle racers of all time, Italy’s Valentino Rossi, won his seventh senior MotoGP World Championship in 2009. Now he is only one senior world title behind Laureus Academy member Giacomo Agostini who won eight. It was Rossi’s ninth world title in total having also won at 125cc in 1997 and 250cc in 1999. In 2008 Rossi had overtaken Agostini’s long standing career record of 68 500cc Grand Prix wins, and by the end of 2009 he had increased that total to 77.

Spain’s Alberto Contador, 27, won his second Tour de France in three years in 2009. Renowned as the best climbing specialist and stage racer in the world, Contador won Stage 15 by more than a minute from his closest rivals to first take the yellow jersey and by the finish had a lead of over four minutes. He beat Lance Armstrong, who had returned to cycling after four years, into third place.

Santonio Holmes, 25, was named Most Valuable Player for Pittsburgh Steelers in their 27-23 Super Bowl victory over Arizona Cardinals in February 2009. The wide receiver ensured the Steelers’ record sixth NFL Super Bowl win after catching a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 35 secs left. He received the MVP accolade for his grandstand finish and his nine receptions for 131 yards.

Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson was named 2009 Cricketer of the Year in the International Cricket Council Awards. He took more than 90 wickets in his first 21 Test matches and averaged in the mid-30s with the bat. Johnson was discovered at a fast-bowling clinic in Brisbane at age 17, by former Australian fast-bowler Dennis Lillee who identified him as an ‘once-in-a-lifetime prospect’.

Rated No.1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world by the authoritative Ring magazine, Manny Pacquiao, 31, from the Philippines, became the first fighter to win seven world titles in seven different weight divisions when he beat Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto to win the WBO welterweight champion in November when the referee stopped the fight in the 12th round.

In 2009, American Michael Phelps was never going to match the previous year when he broke one of the most historic records in sport, in Beijing, winning eight gold medals at a single Olympiad to surpass Laureus Academy Member, Mark Spitz’s total of seven in 1972. However in the World Swimming Championships in Rome, Phelps who broke four world records continued his amazing accumulation of medals by collecting five gold and one silver.

Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen’s victory in the World Championships made him the first man in javelin history to be World, Olympic and European champion at the same time. In a dominant 2009, he took the world title in Berlin with a throw of 89.59 metres, and he also achieved the season’s best throw with 91.28 metres in Zurich in August.

Australia’s Craig Alexander, 35, joined the triathlon greats by winning the Hawaiian Ironman World Championship for the second straight year, becoming only the fourth man in history to successfully defend the title. Alexander had to overcome a 12 min deficit at the start of the marathon leg, but stormed back for a comfortable two minute victory. He completed the 140.6-mile event in 8 hrs 20 mins. During 2009, he also won ultimate triathlons in Boise, Geelong, Muskoka and Singapore.

Double Olympic gold medallist Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “This promises to be a tremendous fight for this year's Laureus Awards. I can rarely remember a year, outside of the Olympic Games year, when there has been such a strong line-up of potential nominees in the Laureus Sportsman of the Year category. 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.”

H.E. Khadem Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Aabar Investments PJSC, host partner of the 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards, said: “We are delighted that Abu Dhabi has been chosen to host the 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards. Sport is close to the hearts of all our people. Abu Dhabi is a city that harmoniously combines historic traditions and modern values. I am confident that active construction of sport facilities and creation of well-developed infrastructure makes Abu Dhabi an ideal venue for sports events of global significance. I am confident that our partnership with the Laureus World Sports Awards will be enormously successful.

“Aabar Investments PJSC, as the host partner of the event, is honoured to bring this prestigious occasion to Abu Dhabi and to play a pivotal role in an event that touches the lives of so many globally. As a universal language, sports have no boundaries and create a positive impact on future generations. Aabar hopes to enhance awareness of the importance of sport to society and to develop its relationship with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.”

Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, offers a fascinating combination of the old and the new; a blend of Arabic hospitality and mystique where a mixture of culture and tradition come together against a backdrop of the most modern world-class infrastructure. Abu Dhabi is developing a reputation as a great sporting venue. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the latest high profile sports event to be staged in Abu Dhabi. Last year FIFA chose Abu Dhabi to stage football’s World Club Championship, and the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship are now highlights of the sporting calendar in the city.

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 150 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. Then the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy vote by secret ballot to select the Award winners.

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.

For further information please contact:
Mal Thompson
Laureus Global Communications
Tel: +44 (0)20 7514 2863
Fax: +44 (0)20 7514 2837
Email: publicrelations@laureus.com
Website: http://www.laureus.com
For photos of Laureus events please visit http://www.laureusarchive.com
NB: Information correct at time of going to press

NOTES TO EDITORS

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 World Sports Awards and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation - 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 more than 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 and territories.

Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which supports almost 70 community sports projects around the world.

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

Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz, the world’s oldest automaker, can look back on a unique tradition. It is the most valuable automotive premium brand which stands for quality, safety, comfort, fascinating design and sustainable mobility. 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 Mercedes-Benz engineers will in future consistently reinvent the automobile - with the same enthusiasm and innovation like Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz in 1886. 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 140 years, IWC Schaffhausen has been producing precision products of complex functionality and outstanding user-friendliness for watch connoisseurs who expect more from their watch than an accurate display. 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
Vodafone, the world's leading international mobile communications group, with over 323 million proportionate customers and equity interests in 31 countries across five continents and a further 40 partner networks worldwide, is supporting Laureus as a new 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.

Aabar Investments PJSC
Aabar is an investment company headquartered in Abu Dhabi. Its largest stakeholder is the International Petroleum Investment Company, which in turn is wholly owned by the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Aabar is supporting Laureus as the host partner for the 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards. Aabar is honoured to be given the chance to be part of the event and to bring it to Abu Dhabi. Aabar is looking forward to developing its relationship with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and introducing opportunities and projects to the region.

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Keywords · Laureus · Usain Bolt · Roger Federer · Hideki Matsui · Kenenisa Bekele · Lionel Messi · Valentino Rossi · Alberto Contador


Name: Mal Thompson
Organization: Laureus Global Communications
Email:
Phone: +44 (0)20 7514 2863
URL: http://www.laureus.com


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