LONDON, February 6, 2012 – The winners of the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards have been unveiled at a globally televised Awards Ceremony in London. Among the highlights were a record-equalling fourth Laureus Award for US surfer Kelly Slater and a double success for Northern Ireland golf with both Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy being honoured. FC Barcelona at last won the Laureus Team of the Year Award after their fourth Nomination.
The Laureus World Sports Awards are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 47 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic was acclaimed Laureus World Sportsman of the Year after his remarkable 2011 when he won three Grand Slam events – the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open – and took away the tennis world No 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal.
The Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award went to Kenya’s extraordinary distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot, who won both 5,000 and 10,000 metres gold medals at the World Championships in Daegu.
Winners of the Champions League and the Spanish League in the 2010/11 season, under coach Pep Guardiola, FC Barcelona won the Laureus World Team of the Year Award.
Northern Ireland golf celebrated two Awards. Brilliant young star Rory McIlroy, 22, was named winner of the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award after winning the US Open, his first Major Championship, while Darren Clarke received the Laureus Comeback Award after his Open Championship victory at Royal St.George’s at his 20th attempt and at the age of 42.
American surfing giant Kelly Slater was named Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year. It was his fourth Laureus Award, equalling the record of Roger Federer, the only other four-time winner.
South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, dubbed the ‘Blade Runner’ because he uses carbon fibre blades, was presented with the Laureus Disability Award, after becoming the first amputee to win a track medal in the non-disabled World Championships, a silver in the 4 x 400 metres relay.
England football legend Bobby Charlton was awarded the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his remarkable career.
Former Brazilian international footballer Raí, now a campaigner for social justice, won the Laureus Sport for Good Award.
The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during 2011, were announced at the Awards Ceremony at Central Hall, Westminster, which was hosted by Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe winner Clive Owen and attended by guests from the worlds of sport and entertainment.
The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy present were: Giacomo Agostini, Boris Becker, Sergey Bubka, Nadia Comaneci, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, Mick Doohan, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dawn Fraser, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Tony Hawk, Mike Horn, Miguel Indurain, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Edwin Moses, Nawal El Moutawakel, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Alexey Nemov, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Steve Redgrave, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh and Katarina Witt.
Among the other guests present from the world of entertainment and fashion were Bryan Ferry who performed on stage as well as segment host British actress Thandie Newton, Spanish actress Elsa Pataky, American actor Luke Wilson and Israeli actress and model Bar Refaeli.
Other sports guests included: Schalk Burger Jr, Paul Collingwood, David Coulthard, Johan Cruyff, Lawrence Dallaglio, Daniel Dias, Cadel Evans, Alex Ferguson, Ruud Gullit, Gavin Hastings, Tim Henman, Kelly Holmes, Petra Kvitova, Lennox Lewis, Barry McGuigan, Matthew Pinsent, Oscar Pistorius, Alan Shearer, Edwin van der Sar, Esther Vergeer, Patrick Vieira, Andre Villas-Boas and Arsene Wenger.
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports 91 community sports projects in 34 countries around the world, including five in London. Since its inception, Laureus has raised €40 million for projects which have improved the lives of more than one-and-a-half million young people.
The 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards have had the support of UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Mr Cameron said: "I am delighted that the Laureus World Sports Awards are in London in 2012. These Awards celebrate the world's top sportsmen and women and highlight the incredible power of sport to make a real difference to individuals and communities around the world. I can't think of a better way to kick off our Olympic year."
And Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: "The Laureus World Sports Awards coming to London is one of the highlights of an amazing calendar of events taking place in London in the lead up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Having the Awards here shows that London is not only the greatest capital in the world but also the greatest place for sport at all levels – from top sports stars to grassroots sporting champions. Laureus and I share a commitment to making sport a positive part of everyone’s life regardless of age and ability and I am delighted that they have come to London in such an important year."