A glittering collection of the world’s greatest sports stars have been nominated for the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards, following a ballot by the world’s media.
The Nominations – six in each category - have set up some eye-catching confrontations. None more so than for the Laureus Team of the Year Award, where the shortlist has produced the ultimate football showdown: the German World Cup Team v Real Madrid, winners of a tenth Champions League.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo will once again be trying to become the first team player to win the individual Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, but he is up against some ferocious opposition. Last year he was beaten by Sebastian Vettel, this time he faces UK pair Lewis Hamilton and Rory McIlory, tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic, Spain’s World MotoGP champion Marc Márquez and Renaud Lavillenie, the French pole vaulter who broke Sergey Bubka’s 21-year-old world record.
The impact of the FIFA World Cup is also felt in the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year category where Germany’s Mario Götze, who scored the winning goal in the final, and Colombia’s James Rodriguez, winner of the Golden Boot as leading scorer, are both nominated.
Although not picked for an individual Award, record four-time Laureus winner Roger Federer receives two Nominations for the part he played, along with Stan Wawrinka, in the first ever success by the Swiss Davis Cup Team, who are shortlisted for both Team of the Year AND Breakthrough of the Year.
Serena Williams, nominated for Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, will be hoping for her record-equalling fourth Laureus Award, but she is challenged by the emotional appeal of China’s Li Na, who won her second Grand Slam in 2014, but had to retire later in the year. Among the other Nominees in this category are Winter Olympic gold medallists Tina Maze and Marit Bjørgen.
Wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden, who won the marathon Grand Slam of Boston, Chicago, London and New York for the second straight year, will be hoping to win the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award after missing out last year. This time, in a very strong category, her opponents include Roman Petushkov, the first athlete to win six gold medals at the Winter Paralympics and Anna Schaffelhuber, who won all five Alpine gold medals at Sochi.
Nominees for Laureus World Comeback of the Year include Schalk Burger, who returned to South African rugby after beating life-threatening meningitis and Italian footballer Francesco Acerbi who beat testicular cancer.
Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore, six-time world surfing champion, will be bidding to win her second Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year Award. Her opposition includes Gabriel Medina, Brazil’s first ever men’s surfing world champion, and American skateboard sensation Nyjah Huston.