FORMULA ONE CHAMPION MAX VERSTAPPEN IS LAUREUS SPORTSMAN OF YEAR..!

Show Highlights – Laureus World Sports Awards 2022

SEVILLE, SPAIN, April 24, 2022 – The Winners of the 2022 Laureus World Sports Awards have been unveiled at a digital ceremony hosted from Seville. Leading an illustrious group of sports stars honoured by the Laureus World Sports Academy are Formula One world champion Max Verstappen and Jamaican Olympic sprint queen Elaine Thompson-Herah, who have been named Laureus World Sportsman and Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year.

The Awards recognise the greatest sporting achievements of 2021, one of the highlights of which was the European Championship victory by the Italian Men’s Football Team who win their second Laureus Team of the Year Award as a result, while global tennis sensation Emma Raducanu receives the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award following her US Open victory at the age of 18.

The Laureus World Sports Academy also made special presentations to three giants of sport: Tom Brady, seven-time winner of the Super Bowl, is honoured with the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award; Robert Lewandowski receives the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award for achievements including breaking Gerd Muller’s long-standing goalscoring record in the Bundesliga; and hugely popular motor cycle racer Valentino Rossi is presented with the Laureus Sporting Icon Award, after retiring in November at the end of a 25-year career.

Max Verstappen, who secured his first World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December, said: “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 Formula One 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’.

“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 defended her 100 and 200 metres Olympic titles in Tokyo, and also won a third gold in the 4 x 100m relay, has been described as the female Usain Bolt. She said: “I know Usain has won Laureus Awards before, so to bring this trophy back home to the Caribbean, also in Jamaica, is very special.

“I have watched that [100 metres] 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.”

Emma Raducanu is a popular winner of the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award after becoming the first qualifier in tennis history to win a Grand Slam. She came through three rounds of qualifying and seven main draw matches at the US Open without dropping a set. It was only her second Grand Slam event.

After being presented with the Laureus Statuette, Emma received a message by video link from tennis star and Laureus Academy Member Li Na, who is one of her role models. She said: “Thank you so much Li Na. You have been a great inspiration to me all my career. It’s been a great year for me. Thank you to all the Laureus Academy Members for voting for me. I really want to congratulate all the other Nominees too.”

Laureus World Comeback of the Year Winner is skateboard star Sky Brown, who suffered a skull fracture when she landed headfirst from a half-pipe in training in June 2020. She was unresponsive when she arrived at hospital, but recovered fully and was able to compete in the Olympics. Aged 13 years and 28 days, she finished third in the park final to win a bronze medal, making her Britain’s youngest ever Olympic medallist.

Swiss wheelchair racer Marcel Hug is named Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for the second time after winning four gold medals in the Tokyo Paralympic Games in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000 metres and marathon; he also set a world record in the 1,500m and a Paralympic record in the 5,000m. In a stunning 2021, Marcel also won the Berlin, New York and Boston marathons.

Britain’s Bethany Shriever is the Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year after winning both Olympic and World Championship BMX gold medals in the same year. In Tokyo, she had to hold off two-time Olympic champion Mariana Pajon to win the gold medal. The 22-year-old teaching assistant had to raise £50,000 in crowd-funding ahead of Tokyo to finance her own qualification campaign after UK Sport cut its support.

Widely considered to be the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady has been honoured with the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his amazing career. In 2021 he won a record seventh Super Bowl playing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his tenth appearance. His first six wins were with New England Patriots.

Brady’s brilliant career has been a superb example of remarkable longevity in a very tough sport. He is the only quarterback to win a Super Bowl in three different decades. At 43 years 188 days, he became the oldest to win the Super Bowl as starting quarterback and the oldest to be named Super Bowl MVP.

He said: “I’ve played the sport of American Football for 31 years. I was very fortunate to fall in love with the game that’s brought so many memorable moments in my life. This Award was founded in the year 2000 when Nelson Mandela said ‘Sport has the power to change the world’ and I totally agree with that. Sport transcends borders, races, religions and ethnicities. It brings so many people together in a positive way. In my view it brings the best out in individuals.

“Pelé was voted for this Award in 2000. Billie Jean King was voted last year. People I really looked up to. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. It is an incredible honour to achieve this tonight.”

One of football’s greatest strikers, Robert Lewandowski scored his 41st goal in the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich in the last minute of the last day of the 2020/21 season to surpass Gerd Muller’s record of 40 goals in a season, which dated back to 1971/72. To honour this achievement and celebrate Lewandowski’s social conscience, he has been presented with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award, an honour only previously given five times.

Poland captain Lewandowski, who played a pivotal role in Bayern’s ninth successive Bundesliga success and won the European Golden Shoe, has now scored more than 500 senior career goals for club and country. He said: “I would like to thank the Laureus Academy for the Award. 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.

“Professional sport is a great passion and joy, but not only fun. Responsibility comes with success. Nelson Mandela said: ‘Sport has the power to change the world’. Let’s remember and repeat this message loudly, especially these days, when innocent people in Ukraine are dying. There is no sport without peace.”

Italian motor cycle legend Valentino Rossi retired at the end of the 2021 World MotoGP season. His record on the track and his personal magnetism will be hard to match. He won nine World Championships and recorded 115 wins and 235 podiums. He is the only rider to win world titles in the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP categories. This is his third Laureus Statuette. He won the Laureus Spirit of Sport Award in 2006 and the Laureus Comeback of the Year Award in 2011.

Rossi said: “The fact that this Award is given by sporting legends makes it more special. I was in Barcelona in 2006 [Laureus Awards Ceremony] and I met a lot of my idols, so it was great. I have already received two prizes from the Laureus Academy, so I have to thank everybody for this. This is great. I was lucky because I had a lot of great achievements in my career. The victories for sure are important, but I think the most important thing is that a lot of people know MotoGP and started to follow motor cycling because of me. This is the sport that I love and I’m very proud of this.”

In line with the focus of Laureus on Sport for Good, the 2022 Awards also told the inspirational stories of people and organisations who work tirelessly to use the power of sport to improve people’s lives and highlighted the advocacy of sportsmen and sportswomen who have used their positions of influence to make a powerful impact on issues and conflicts which go beyond sport.

Established in 1997, the Real Madrid Foundation has used sport to improve the lives of one-and-a-half million people, mainly children, in more than 100 countries, through education, integration and mutual co-operation. It has trained numerous football and basketball coaches since its creation to promote the development of young people through sport and is honoured with the Laureus Sport for Good Society Award.

The Laureus Sport for Good Award goes to Chicago youth baseball programme Lost Boyz Inc. which is now redefining some of the city’s most dangerous neighbourhoods. The goal is to decrease violence, improve social and emotional conditions, and provide financial and academic opportunities among the youth in the South Shore community through baseball training and competition.

The Laureus Athlete Advocate of the Year Award goes to Gerald Asamoah and the Black Eagles. Schalke footballer Asamoah, who is a leading campaigner in the fight against racism, was among several German footballers who appeared in the 2021 documentary ‘Schwarze Adler’ [Black Eagles] which features the experiences of black players in German football.

The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier honours event on the international sporting calendar. The Winners are selected in a secret ballot by the ultimate sports jury – the 71 Members of the Laureus World Sports Academy: the living legends of sport honouring the greatest athletes of today. The names of the Winners were revealed in Seville in a digital Awards Show, hosted by Laureus Academy Member Lindsey Vonn, the great women’s skier.

Sean Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “I’m delighted that we are again able to celebrate the best of sport through so many amazing sportsmen and sportswomen in the Laureus World Sports Awards. The Winners are a very special group of people, and I congratulate them all. It shows the depth of quality this year that in so many of the categories the Nominees were also exceptional. That is one of the joys of an Olympic and Paralympic year. Deciding who to vote for was not easy for me, and I am sure for all my fellow Academy Members. Despite 2021 being another challenging year for non-sporting reasons, I am delighted that we have such a classic roster of Winners.”

The Laureus Awards showcases the work of Laureus Sport for Good, which uses the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage, proving that sport can change the world. Today Laureus supports more than 250 programmes in around 40 countries. Since its inception in 2000, Laureus has helped to improve the lives of more than six million young people.

The full list of Winners is:

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

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