Stephanie Gilmore, World Action Sportsperson Of The Year

Stephanie Gilmore World Action Sportsperson of The Year. Photo courtesy AFP/Awards

Stephanie Gilmore World Action Sportsperson of The Year. Photo courtesy AFP/Awards

March 11, 2010 : – – Abu Dhabi – Stephanie Gilmore has won the prestigious Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the year award, elevating her to among the world’s elite athletes. The victory put Gilmore alongside the likes of superstar sprinter Usain Bolt, tennis ace Serena Williams and comeback star Kim Clijsters, who were also recognised by the Laureus World Sports academy.

In a star-studded red carpet ceremony for the "Oscars of Sport" at the seven-star Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, Gilmore beat a field of five, including fellow Australian surfer Mick Fanning, to be crowned the World Action Sportsperson of the year.

The win capped off a remarkable 2009 for Gilmore as she secured her third world championship win. Gilmore kicked off the current season in fine style last weekend when she took out the first round of the 2010 ASP Women’s World series on her home beach of Snapper Rocks, on the Gold Coast.

The previous Australian winner of a category was women’s surfing pioneer Layne Beachley in 2006. Gilmore received her award from Hugh Grant and Steve Waugh. "This is unbelievable, not in my wildest dreams I thought I would be up here," she said. "I just go surfing and have so much fun. I had so much fun last year."

Gilmore said she was keen to see surfing develop as a professional sport and attract more new participants. Beachley, 7 x world champion, earlier said it was a positive move that surfing was losing the derogatory tag of being "a sport for bums. It proves that as a surfer we are right up there. It’s about sharing the sport, that healthy lifestyle and inspiring people and inspiring young kids.

2010 Laureus World Sports Awards:

Jamaica’s remarkable track genius Usain Bolt has been named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for the second straight time, after continuing his amazing blitz on sprinting in 2009 when he won three more gold medals at the World Championships.

US tennis star Serena Williams has won her second Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award, seven years after her first, following Grand Slam victories in Australia and at Wimbledon. It was her third Laureus Award in total, after also winning the Laureus Comeback Award in 2007.

Formula One was a big winner in Abu Dhabi as Britain’s Jenson Button won the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award following his first World Drivers’ Championship, and the Brawn GP Formula One Team, for whom Button drove in 2009, was named Laureus World Team of the Year.

Belgium’s Kim Clijsters won the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award after her remarkable return to tennis in 2009 when she won the US Open Grand Slam title in only her third tournament following a two-year absence.

There was a warm reception at the Awards Ceremony for courageous South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, who is breaking down the barriers between disabled and able-bodied sport, as she received the Laureus Disability Award.  While Australia’s three-times World Surfing Champion Stephanie Gilmore was named Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year.

Laureus Academy Member Nawal El Moutawakel received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award for her work for women in sport and the International Olympic Committee. And the Laureus Sport for Good Award went to American basketball legend Dikembe Mutombo, for his charitable work in his native Congo.

The 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the period January 1 – December 31, 2009, 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 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time. The living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today.

The names of the winners were announced at a televised Awards Ceremony staged at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi which also celebrated the first ten years in the life of Laureus and was attended by global figures from the world of sport and entertainment.

The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy present were: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Nadia Comaneci, Kapil Dev, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Mika Hakkinen, Tony Hawk, Mike Horn, Kip Keino, Edwin Moses, Nawal El Moutawakel, Robby Naish, Alexey Nemov, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Monica Seles, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba and Steve Waugh.

Double Oscar-winning Hollywood star Kevin Spacey hosted the glittering Awards Ceremony. Among the guests in a packed auditorium at the Emirates Palace were Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, British film stars Hugh Grant and Clive Owen, American actors Kyle MacLachlan from Desperate Housewives and Michelle Rodriguez who played leading roles in the Oscar-winning movie Avatar and the TV series Lost, Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Mika who earlier drew up to the red carpet in a spectacular gull-wing Mercedes-Benz, England Test cricketer Andrew Flintoff, Formula One winner David Coulthard, world boxing champion Amir Khan, Olympic rowing legend Steve Redgrave, and supermodel Jessica Michibata.

The 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards are supported by Host Partner Aabar Investments PJSC. Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, offers a fascinating combination of the old and the new; a blend of Arabian 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 leading international sporting venue. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the latest high profile sports event to be staged in Abu Dhabi. Last year Abu Dhabi was chosen to stage football’s FIFA Club World Cup, and the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship are now highlights of the sporting calendar in the city.

The Awards were announced in seven categories. The winners were:

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Usain Bolt

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Serena Williams

Laureus World Team of the Year: Brawn GP Formula One

Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Jenson Button

Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Kim Clijsters

Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Natalie du Toit

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Stephanie Gilmore

There were two additional Awards:
The Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to athletics legend Nawal El Moutawakel,
American basketball star Dikembe Mutombo won the Laureus Sport for Good Award for his charitable work in the Congo.