Italy’s flamboyant racer Valentino Rossi is the recipient of the prestigious 2006 Laureus Spirit of Sport Award which honours his remarkable contribution to motor cycling. Last year he confirmed his status as one of the giants of his sport with his fifth successive World MotoGP Championship.
Laureus World Sports Academy member Giacomo Agostini, winner of 15 World Championship titles, said of Rossi: “He is certainly the greatest rider of his generation, and he is one of the greatest of all time.”
The Laureus Spirit of Sport Award is presented at the discretion of the Laureus World Sports Academy and acknowledges a major achievement from the sporting year, reflecting a significant contribution made by an individual to sport.
Rossi’s domination of his sport has been mirrored over the years at the Laureus World Sports Awards, with three Nominations in three years. He was first nominated for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award in 2004, but he lost out to Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher. Last year he was nominated again by the world’s media, but the Award went to Swiss tennis star Roger Federer.
His Nomination for this year’s Awards came after a brilliant 2005, in which he clinched his fifth World MotoGP Championship, at the age of 27, only narrowly failing in his bid to match Mick Doohan's record 12 wins in a season, but it was the third time he had won 11 races in a year. He set a record points total of 367 and finished on the podium 16 times in 17 races. At the end of the season, he was an incredible 147 points ahead of his nearest rival.