February 8, 2011 : – – Spain, the United States and Germany were the big winners at the 2011 Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony in Abu Dhabi as each country collected two prestigious Laureus Awards.
Spain's world tennis No 1 Rafael Nadal was acclaimed Laureus World Sportsman of the Year after his remarkable 2010 winning three Grand Slam events – at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. It was Nadal's second Laureus Award – he also won the Laureus Breakthrough Award in 2006.
Nadal also joined in the celebrations as the Laureus World Team of the Year Award went to the Spain World Cup Team following their victory in South Africa. The first time Spain, a powerhouse of European football, had won the FIFA World Cup.
American Kelly Slater received a warm reception from an enthusiastic audience as he was presented with the Laureus Action Sports Award for the third time, after winning a record tenth World Surfing Championship. Lindsey Vonn made it an American double by winning the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award after a stellar year in which she secured her third straight skiing World Cup and the Olympic Downhill gold medal.
German sport celebrated two Awards. Brilliant young golfer Martin Kaymer was presented with the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award after winning the US PGA Championship and finishing as No 1 golfer in Europe. While visually impaired skier and biathlete Verena Bentele was a popular winner of the Laureus Disability Award after capturing five gold medals in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award went to Italy's super competitive seven-times motor cycle world champion Valentino Rossi, who returned to the track just 41 days after breaking his leg.
There was a rapturous welcome for French football legend Zinedine Zidane, who received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his remarkable career, and the Laureus Spirit of Sport Award was presented to the European Ryder Cup Team to mark their emotional win over the United States in October in a match which demonstrated great sportsmanship, golf played at the highest level and enormous and passionate galleries. The Laureus Sport for Good Award was presented to May El-Khalil, founder of the Beirut Marathon.
The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement, are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners, as voted by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time, were announced at a televised Awards Ceremony staged at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi hosted by double Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and attended by guests from the worlds of sport and entertainment.
The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy present were: Giacomo Agostini, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Sergey Bubka, Bobby Charlton, Nadia Comaneci, Marcel Desailly, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dawn Fraser, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Hakkinen, Tony Hawk, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Edwin Moses, Nawal El Moutawakel, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Alexey Nemov, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Daley Thompson and Steve Waugh.
At the Awards Ceremony it was announced that Australian five-times motor cycle 500cc world champion Mick Doohan and five-times Olympic rowing gold medallist Steve Redgrave have been elected to the Laureus World Sports Academy.
The Laureus World Sports Awards was staged in Abu Dhabi thanks to the generous support of Aabar Investments PJS, Host Partner for the event. His Excellency Khadem Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Aabar, said: “Aabar is delighted to bring the Laureus World Sports Awards to Abu Dhabi once again. It is a great event and we hope that many of the world’s leading sportsmen and women have enjoyed experiencing our Abu Dhabi hospitality. On behalf of Aabar, I would like to congratulate all the winners and wish every nominee continued sporting success in 2011.”
Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, offers a fascinating combination of the old and the new; a blend of Arabic hospitality and mystique where a mixture of culture and tradition come together against a backdrop of the most modern world-class infrastructure. Abu Dhabi is developing a reputation as a great sporting venue as host city for the FIFA Club World Cup, the Etihad Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, all highlights of the sporting calendar in the city.
Aabar Investments PJS is an investment company headquartered in Abu Dhabi. It invests in various sectors including aerospace, real estate, automotive and financial services. Its largest stakeholder is the International Petroleum Investment Company, which is wholly owned by the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which supports 83 community sports projects around the world. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €40 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of more than one-and-a-half-million young people.
The Awards were announced in seven categories. The winners were:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Rafael Nadal
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Lindsey Vonn
Laureus World Team of the Year: Spain World Cup Team
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Martin Kaymer
Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Valentino Rossi
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Verena Bentele
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Kelly Slater
There were three additional Awards: The Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to football legend Zinedine Zidane, the Laureus Spirit of Sport Award was presented to the European Ryder Cup Team, while May El-Khalil, founder of the Beirut Marathon, won the Laureus Sport for Good Award.