LONDON, February 02, 2022 – A glittering collection of the world’s greatest sportsmen, sportswomen and teams have been nominated for the 2022 Laureus World Sports Awards, following a ballot by global sports media. Despite continuing disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the return of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, football’s European Championship and other major tournaments and events in 2021 provided unforgettable drama and these Laureus World Sports Nominees were cast in starring roles.
Six Nominees have been selected in each of seven categories and the names of the Winners will be revealed in April, following a vote by the Laureus World Sports Academy – the world’s ultimate sports jury – made up of 71 of the greatest sporting legends of all time.
The battle for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award will be one of the most competitive ever. Tom Brady, the NFL’s greatest-ever quarterback, is nominated along with Bayern Munich’s prolific goalscorer Robert Lewandowski, new Formula One world champion Max Verstappen, tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic, and two of the greatest Olympians: swimmer Caeleb Dressel, who won five gold medals in Tokyo, and Eliud Kipchoge, who won back-to-back marathon gold medals.
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Nominee Max Verstappen said: “Thank you to the world’s media for nominating me for the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award. It is great to be nominated after the intense Formula 1 2021 season. The biggest thank you, though, must go to my team, Red Bull Racing, who together with Honda provided me a winning car. For many years the team has fought and pushed to get better and close the gap, and at last we managed it. Being the world champion, it’s something incredible. Also a big thanks for my fans for supporting me, it’s really great to see the Orange Army all over the world.”
Great track runner and Laureus Academy Member Sebastian Coe said: “I think we have to conclude that Eliud Kipchoge is now the greatest marathon runner of all time. I had the great privilege of watching him win his Olympic title in Sapporo. He was so in command of that race that day. His contribution to athletics is Muhammad Ali-esque.”
Several historic Olympic performances dominate the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award category: Elaine Thompson-Herah matched fellow Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt with gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4×100 metres relay; Allyson Felix passed Carl Lewis as the most decorated track and field US Olympian; Australian swimmer Emma McKeon’s four gold and three bronze medals tied the record for the most won by a woman in a single Olympic Games; and American swimmer Katie Ledecky won two more gold and two silver medals. Also short-listed are world No.1 tennis player Ashleigh Barty, who won Wimbledon, and Alexia Putellas, captain of FC Barcelona’s Women’s Team.
Laureus Academy Member and athletics legend Michael Johnson said: “There’s another athlete who just completely dominated their sport last year. Elaine Thompson-Herah, 100 metres, 200 metres, repeating as champion, which is very difficult to do, and threatening one of the oldest and most impressive world
records in the books, the women’s 100 metres. I mean, we haven’t talked about anyone threatening that record for years.”
Britain’s Emma Raducanu became a global tennis sensation when she won the US Open at the age of 18, and unsurprisingly she is one of the Nominees for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award, along with Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, who won the men’s title. Other Nominees are Neeraj Chopra, India’s first winner of an Olympic athletics gold medal, Spanish football prodigy Pedri – at 19 voted best young player at the Ballon d’Or – Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas, who broke the triple jump world record which had stood for 26 years, and Australia’s Ariarne Titmus, who made her Olympic debut at 20, beating defending champion Katie Ledecky at both 200 and 400 metres
The Nominees for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year include several sporting giants and one brilliant youngster. The indomitable gymnast Simone Biles showed her courage and determination to come back to win a bronze medal on the beam in Tokyo, Mark Cavendish fought back from mental and physical health problems to equal Eddie Merckx’s record of 34 Tour de France stage wins, Tom Daley had knee surgery in June, but still won his first ever Olympic diving gold medal, eight-time MotoGP world champion Marc Márquez celebrated his first Grand Prix win for 581 days after a broken arm, and Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten, won the Olympic time trial three days after missing out on road race gold. One of the most talented of a thrilling group of young skateboarders, Sky Brown, recovered from a skull fracture to win a bronze medal in Tokyo, at the age of just 13 years and 28 days.
The brilliant Italy Men’s Football Team are among the frontrunners for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award after their victory in Euro 2020. There are two other football Nominees: the Argentina Men’s Football Team, including Lionel Messi, who won the Copa America; and FC Barcelona Women’s Football Team, who won their first Champions League. They are joined by the China Olympic Diving Team, who won gold medals in seven of the eight events, the Milwaukee Bucks, inspired by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who ended their 50-year wait for a second NBA championship, and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team which won a record eighth consecutive Constructors’ World Championship.
Italy coach Roberto Mancini said: “We are very excited to be nominated for this important Laureus Award and, on behalf of the team, I thank the world’s media for their support. Italy last won this Award after the 2006 World Cup win. That was a massive day for Italian football – and I believe that what we achieved last year was perhaps even more important for so many reasons. Italian football was not in a good place after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and the country was suffering with many problems caused by the Covid pandemic. But the national team is a symbol of a country that in difficult moments has always known how to get up again. So thank you Laureus for understanding that.”
All the Nominees for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award achieved their success in 2021 at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Switzerland’s wheelchair athlete Marcel Hug was in the form of his life winning four gold medals – in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000 metres and marathon, Holland’s Diede De Groot became the first to complete the calendar-year Golden Slam in wheelchair tennis, Japan’s Shingo Kunieda, a host nation hero, won the fourth Paralympic gold medal of his career, Holland’s Jetze Plat won three Paralympic gold medals in two different sports, triathlon and road cycling, Spain’s world champion Susana Rodriguez won her first Paralympic gold medal, and Britain’s Sarah Storey won three gold medals from three events to become Britain’s most successful Paralympic athlete.
Marcel Hug said: “I had the honour of winning this very special Laureus Award in 2018, and to be nominated again this year was probably even better as it included winning four gold medals at the Paralympic Games. I don’t think Tokyo could have gone any better for me and to be voted Best Male
Athlete of the Games was a unique moment that I will never forget. To be a Nominee again for the Disability Award made it even more memorable in my career.”
Carissa Moore was the stand-out surfer of 2021, winning both the first ever women’s Olympic surfing gold medal and her fifth world championship. She has been nominated for the Laureus World Action Sports Award, along with Brazil’s Italo Ferreira, who won the first ever men’s Olympic gold. Other Nominees are: Spain’s speed climber Alberto Gines; Japan’s Yuto Horigome, the first winner of an Olympic skateboarding gold medal; Momiji Nishiya, at 13 years 267 days winner of the first gold medal in women’s street skateboarding; and Britain’s Bethany Shriever, the first woman to win both Olympic and World Championship BMX gold medals in the same year.
Each year the Laureus Sport for Good Award recognises a community sports-based programme which has helped to improve the lives of young people and bring communities together. Five inspirational and transformational programmes have been shortlisted by a specialist selection panel.
Ich will da rauf! (‘I want to get up there’) in Germany looks to bring together able bodied and disabled young people through climbing to eradicate the barriers to a normal life for disabled youth. Jucà Pe Cagnà in Sanita, Italy provides safe places and a positive environment for young people to play sports and find ways to a better education and opportunities in a community where organised crime is a part of everyday life. In Lesotho, a country ravaged by AIDS, over 250,000 young people have participated in Kick4Life, which uses football to educate and encourage young people to understand and get tested for this debilitating disease. On the south side of Chicago in the United States Lost Boyz Inc. uses baseball and softball to bring youth together to overcome the challenges of gang violence and poverty and to build better futures for their community. And in Japan, Monkey Magic, founded by Para climbing legend Koichiro Kobayashi who went blind at 28, teaches climbing to blind and visually impaired children to build their confidence and chances in later life.
Due to the ongoing limitations and uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2022 Awards will build on the success of Laureus’ 2021 ‘virtual’ Awards. The showcase event will continue to celebrate the achievement of athletes and the inspirational stories from the world of sport.
The full list of Nominees is:
LAUREUS WORLD SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
Tom Brady (USA) American Football – the greatest NFL quarterback, he won a record seventh Super Bowl
Novak Djokovic (Serbia) Tennis – won three Grand Slams in 2021 to take his total of career wins to 20
Caeleb Dressel (USA) Swimming – outstanding male swimmer in Tokyo with five Olympic gold medals
Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) Athletics – became third person in history to win back-to-back Olympic marathons
Robert Lewandowski (Poland) Football – surpassed Gerd Muller’s record of 40 goals in a season for Bayern
Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Motor Racing – won his first Formula One World Championship in 2021
LAUREUS WORLD SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
Ashleigh Barty (Australia) Tennis – world No.1, won Wimbledon, her second career Grand Slam
Allyson Felix (USA) Athletics – surpassed Carl Lewis as the most decorated track and field US Olympian
Katie Ledecky (USA) Swimming – won 800 and 1,500 metres freestyle golds in Tokyo, plus two silver medals
Emma McKeon (Australia) Swimming – won four gold and three bronze in Tokyo, the most by an individual
Alexia Putellas (Spain) Football – Barcelona captain; won Ballon d’Or and UEFA Women’s Player of Year
Elaine Thompson-Herah (Jamaica) Athletics – won Olympic 100 and 200 metres and 4x100m relay
LAUREUS WORLD TEAM OF THE YEAR AWARD
Argentina Men’s Football Team – won Copa America; Lionel Messi’s first international trophy, at age of 34
Barcelona Women’s Football Team (Spain) – won first Champions League, beating English club Chelsea 4-0
China Olympic Diving Team – won gold medals in seven of the eight events staged in the pool in Tokyo
Italy Men’s Football Team – under Roberto Mancini won European Championship for first time since 1968
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team (Germany) – won record eighth Constructors Championship
Milwaukee Bucks (USA) Basketball – inspired by Giannis Antetokounmpo, won a second NBA championship
LAUREUS WORLD BREAKTHROUGH OF THE YEAR AWARD
Neeraj Chopra (India) Athletics – won javelin to become India’s first winner of an Olympic athletics gold
Daniil Medvedev (Russia) Tennis – won his first ever Grand Slam, dropping only one set in the US Open
Pedri (Spain) Football – 19, played 53 times in 2020/21 for Barcelona, and every game for Spain in Euro 2020
Emma Raducanu (UK) Tennis – became a global sensation when she won the US Open at the age of 18
Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela) Athletics – broke 26-year-old world record to win triple jump gold in Tokyo
Ariarne Titmus (Australia) Swimming – aged 20, beat champion Katie Ledecky at 200 and 400m in Tokyo
LAUREUS WORLD COMEBACK OF THE YEAR AWARD
Simone Biles (USA) Gymnastics – after withdrawing in Tokyo, she came back to win bronze in the beam
Sky Brown (UK) Skateboarding – aged 13, recovered from fractured skull to win bronze medal in Tokyo
Mark Cavendish (UK) Cycling – fought back from depression to win second Tour de France sprint title
Tom Daley (UK) Diving – had knee surgery in June, but won 10 metres synchronised gold in Tokyo
Marc Márquez (Spain) Motor Cycling – first win in 581 days, after recovering from broken arm at start of 2020
Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) Cycling – won Olympic time trial days after missing gold in road race
LAUREUS SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR WITH A DISABILITY AWARD
Diede De Groot (Netherlands) Wheelchair Tennis – first player to complete the calendar-year Golden Slam
Marcel Hug (Switz) Wheelchair Athletics – won Paralympic gold medals in 800, 1,500, 5,000m and marathon
Shingo Kunieda (Japan) Wheelchair Tennis – host-nation hero, won fourth Paralympic gold of his career
Jetze Plat (Netherlands) Para Cycling / Para Triathlon – won three Paralympic gold medals in two sports
Susana Rodríguez (Spain) Para Triathlon – won gold in Tokyo in triathlon PTVI, her first Paralympic medal
Sarah Storey (UK) Para Cycling – won three golds from three events to take her career total to 17
LAUREUS WORLD ACTION SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD
Ítalo Ferreira (Brazil) Surfing – in Tokyo became the first-ever surfing Olympic gold medal winner
Alberto Ginés (Spain) Climbing – aged 18, scaled 15-metre wall in 6.42 seconds to win speed climbing gold
Yuto Horigome (Japan) Skateboarding – won first ever skateboarding Olympic gold to delight of host nation
Carissa Moore (USA) Surfing – won first ever women’s Olympic surfing gold, then added her fifth world title
Momiji Nishiya (Japan) Skateboarding – at 13, won first-ever Olympic gold medal in women’s street event
Bethany Shriever (UK) BMX – first woman to win both Olympic and World Championship gold in same year
LAUREUS SPORT FOR GOOD AWARD
Programmes shortlisted by a specialist selection panel; Laureus Academy select the winner
Ich will da rauf! (Germany) Climbing – disabled and non-disabled share challenge of the climbing wall
Jucà Pe Cagnà (Italy) Multi-sport – provides safe places to play away from the influence of crime
Kick 4 Life (Lesotho) Football – supports young people through health education and HIV testing
Lost Boyz Inc. (USA) Baseball/Softball – works in Chicago to decrease violence and improve social conditions
Monkey Magic (Japan) Climbing – promotes free climbing for those with visual impairment