The cream of global sport gathered in Monaco to celebrate the sporting successes of 2018 and to honour the winners of the Laureus World Sports Awards.
World number one tennis star Novak Djokovic, era-defining gymnast Simone Biles, star of women’s tennis in 2018 Naomi Osaka, golfing legend Tiger Woods, the France World Cup winning team, retiring skiing great Lindsay Vonn, young pretender Chloe Kim, legendary coach Arsène Wenger and record breaker Eliud Kipchoge were among the high profile winners.
But it was the lesser-known winners who captured the hearts of the guests and watching public. Four young girls from rural India, an amputee climber and a blind skier and her guide were the stars of the show as Laureus celebrated the spirit of sport, alongside high achievement.
Hosted by Hollywood actor James Marsden, with musical entertainment provided by BRIT winner and Grammy nominee Jorja Smith, the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards were the 19th edition of the world’s premier global sporting honours.
In the company of HSH Prince Albert II in Monaco, Novak Djokovic fought off tough competition from the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Eliud Kipchoge and LeBron James to win the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award. Novak, who won Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018 after returning from elbow surgery, is now a four-time Laureus World Sportsman of the Year.
After her record-breaking performance at the gymnastics world championships, in which she won four gold, one silver and one bronze medal, Simone Biles was crowned Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year. Biles, who also won the Sportswoman Award in 2017, made history last year by becoming the first woman to win four all-around world championships. At just 21, she now has a record 14 career world titles.
FIFA World Cup winners France became the first national football team to win a second Laureus World Team of the Year Award, fighting off competition from the world-leading teams across a range of sports including Mercedes AMG Petronas F1, Golden State Warriors and Real Madrid. French coach Didier Deschamps was in Monaco to accept the Award on behalf of the team.
Japan’s first Grand Slam tennis star Naomi Osaka received the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award for her victory in the US Open, where she defeated five-time Laureus Award winner Serena Williams. Osaka, 21, who is now number one in the world after recently winning the Australian Open, makes history as Japan’s first Laureus Award winner.
Golfing star and ten-time Laureus Nominee Tiger Woods won his third Laureus Award, after winning the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year accolade at the 2000 and 2001 Laureus Awards. The American received the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award for winning the Tour Championship, his first win in 1,876 days, returning to the game after spinal fusion surgery.
17-year-old American snowboarding sensation Chloe Kim, who became the youngest woman to win a Winter Olympics snowboarding gold medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, won the Action Sportsperson of the Year Award.
The Laureus World Sports Academy recognised marathon world record breaker Eliud Kipchoge with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award. Kipchoge, who ran the fastest time ever in a marathon in Berlin with a time of 2 hours 1 min 39 seconds, broke the previous record by a massive 1 min 18 seconds.
Legendary football manager Arsène Wenger received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to football during his 22 years as manager of Arsenal. During his time there, he famously led ‘The Invincibles’ to an entire season unbeaten, and made a significant contribution to English football through his approach to scouting, training and diets, and his emphasis on an attacking mentality.
Arsène received a guard of honour at the Ceremony from legendary Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas and football legends Alessandro Del Piero, Luis Figo, Fabio Capello, Didier Deschamps, Cafu and Alex Scott. Arsène’s Award was presented by Cesc Fabregas.
Skiing great Lindsey Vonn’s incredible career was recognised by the Laureus Academy with the Laureus Spirit of Sport Award. The Spirit of Sport Award is given at the discretion of the Academy, to recognise an athlete or team who have achieved remarkable success and displayed a relentless dedication to their sport. The greatest female skier of all time, Vonn recently announced her retirement from the sport. Vonn is one of only two female skiers to win four Overall World Cups and has won a record eight World Cup Downhill titles.
Yuwa, a sport for development organisation that works in the rural region of Jharkhand in northern India, received the Laureus Sport for Good Award for their life-changing work in using football to improve the lives of young girls from disadvantaged communities. Through football, the girls overcome violence, build self-confidence and start to change perceptions of what a girl from a rural village in India is capable of achieving. One of Laureus Sport for Good’s key focus areas is promoting equality, empowerment and safety for young women and girls. Of the 296,300 children and young people Laureus Sport for Good programmes reached worldwide in 2018, 49% were young women and girls.
Slovak alpine skier Henrieta Farkasova and her guide Natalia Subrtova won the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award after becoming the most decorated Winter Paralympian in Pyeongchang with four gold medals in vision-impaired Downhill, Giant Slalom, Super Combined and Super-G, plus silver in Slalom.
Inspirational Chinese climber Xia Boyu received the most votes in the global Laureus Sporting Moment of the Year public vote. Xia was recognised for his efforts in becoming only the second double-amputee to scale Everest, and the first to reach the summit from the Nepalese side. Joining Xia in the top three Laureus Sporting Moment of the Year Nominees at the Awards in Monaco were; South Africa’s first black Test captain Siya Kolisi and Scottish rugby legend Doddie Weir, who is fighting motor neuron disease.