Nadal, Messi nominated for Laureus Sportsman of the Year award

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ABU DHABI - Tennis star Rafael Nadal, Barcelona footballers Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi and Formula One driver Germany’s Sebastian Vettel are among those nominated for the Laureus World ‘Sportsman of the Year’ award.

Nadal became the first man since 1969 to win the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in the same year in 2010.

The Spaniard won the Laureus Newcomer Award in 2006. He will be up against Vettel, youngest winner of the Formula One World Championship, Philippines’ boxer Manny Pacquiao and, for the first time ever, three stars from team sports - LA Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant and Barcelona footballers Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi.

India’s cricketing star Sachin Tendulkar and Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan missed the cut.

The nominations have been finalised following a ballot by the world’s media.

Three-time Laureus winner Serena Williams is nominated once again for the ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ award after winning two Grand Slam titles in 2010. Also short-listed are two other tennis players, Belgium’s Kim Clijsters and Denmark’s world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki, American ski star Lindsey Vonn and athletes Jessica Ennis of Britain and Croatian high jump sensation Blanka Vlasic.

The ‘Team of the Year’ category looks to be one of the most competitive ever. The Football World Cup winners Spain will be a strong contenders, but also nominated are the European Ryder Cup Team, Champions League winners Inter Milan, NBA winners Los Angeles Lakers, the Red Bull Formula One Team and the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team.

The nominations for the ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ are dominated by golf and include European No 1 Martin Kaymer from Germany, South Africa’s Open Championship winner Louis Oosthuizen and Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who became the youngest ever winner on the European Tour in 2010. Germany’s Thomas Mller, winner of the golden boot and the best young player award at the World Cup, is also on the shortlist, along with French athletes Christophe Lemaitre and Teddy Tamgho.

Several of sport’s biggest names - Belgian tennis star Justine Henin, Swedish golden girl Carolina Kluft and Italian motor cycle racer Valentino Rossi - have been nominated for the ‘Comeback of the Year’ Award. Also nominated in this category are American golfer Paula Creamer, track star Tyson Gay and former Jamaican athlete Merlene Ottey, who now runs for Slovenia.

The Laureus Awards which recognise sporting achievement during a calendar year are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar.

The winners will be voted by the sports jury,made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time, and will be unveiled at a televised Awards Ceremony here Feb 7.

“This has been a great year for sport. There has been a host of amazing individual and team performances and I congratulate all the nominees and look forward to what should be a great awards ceremony next month in Abu Dhabi, said Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses.

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