Laureus Breakthrough Nominees: Head-to-head

March 6, 2013
Celebrating both the achievements of exciting new talent and standout new heights reached by sportspeople already familiar to many, the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year really is one of the most exciting categories of them all come Awards night.
This year’s Nominees include both these types, with new faces going up against sportspeople who truly have outdone their past achievements during 2012.
Open to both sportsmen and sportswomen, just like the Comeback category, the Breakthrough Award always proves to be a closely run race.
So, once you have had a look at all their achievements from 2012, be sure to comment below as to who of the Nominees you think deserves to be named sport’s Breakthrough of the Year.
Yannick Agnel
Nationality: France
Sport: Swimming
Achievements: At 20, in his first ever Olympic Games, France’s Yannick Agnel won three medals - two gold and a silver. He produced one of the outstanding swims of the London Games to win the 200 metres freestyle gold, 1.79 secs ahead at the finish. He also won gold in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay and silver in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay, producing the fastest split times in both events.
Gabby Douglas
Nationality: United States
Sport: Gymnastics
Achievements: The diminutive 16-year-old American became the first woman to win individual and team all-around gold medals - competing on four pieces of equipment - at the same Olympics. She was also the first African-American to win all-around gold. Before the Olympics she was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and Time. After she won her gold medals, a giant mural depicting her achievement was painted in her home town of Virginia Beach.
Kirani James
Nationality: Grenada
Sport:  Athletics
Achievements: At 19, Kirani James won the Olympic 400 metres gold medal in a time of 43.94 secs to earn the Caribbean island of Grenada its first ever Olympic medal. He was also the first non-US runner to break 44 secs. James described his win as ‘a huge step for our country in terms of stepping up to the plate in track and field and putting us on the map.’ His reception when he returned to Grenada was euphoric as thousands lined the street. Grenada president Tillman Thomas said a commemorative stamp would be created in his honour, a new stadium named after him and he would be appointed a tourism ambassador.
Andy Murray
Nationality: United Kingdom
Sport: Tennis
Achievements: In a spectacular second half of the year, Andy Murray, after years of trying, finally made his own personal breakthrough, winning the US Open, his first ever Grand Slam event, and also a gold and silver medal at the London Olympic Games. His US Open victory made him the first British player since Fred Perry in 1936 to win a Grand Slam tennis event. Murray’s amazing year began in July at Wimbledon when he lost to Roger Federer in the final to the disappointment of his British fans who were hoping for a home win. However, just 28 days later, he turned the tables on Federer with a straight sets win in the Olympic men’s singles final, again played at Wimbledon. He also won a silver medal with Laura Robson in the mixed doubles. At the US Open he defeated Novak Djokovic in a dramatic five-set final.
Nationality: Brazil
Sport: Football
Achievements: Brazil’s Neymar is one of the most highly rated young players in world football and has attracted the interest of many top clubs. In 2012 he scored some superlative goals and is compared by many to the great Brazilian Pelé. In February, at just 20, he scored his 100th goal for Santos against Palmeiras. He first played for Brazil in 2010 and has scored 16 goals in 25 appearances. He was one of the stars of the Brazil Olympic football team which reached the final in London, with three goals and several assists.
Ye Shiwen
Nationality: China
Sport: Swimming
Achievements: At just 16, Ye Shiwen was one of the sensations of the Olympic Games, winning both 200 metres and 400 metres individual medley gold medals. In the third heat of the 400 metres, she swam 4 mins 31.73 secs, an improvement of two seconds over her previous best time at the 2010 Asian Games. Then in the final she broke the world record, held by Stephanie Rice since the 2008 Olympics, with a time of 4:28.43, an improvement of a further three seconds, which amazed the swimming world. She started swimming at the age of six at the suggestion of her kindergarten teacher.

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