Thursday, March 26, 2009

Short List for Laureus World Sports Awards

A spectacular year of action has set up one of the most exciting contests ever for the 2009 Laureus World Team of the Year Award, featuring a high profile sporting battle between the most successful Olympic teams and the top football teams in the world. The tenth Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the calendar year 2008, are widely acknowledged as the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The names of the Nominees, and the venue and date of the 2009 Laureus World Sports Awards will be announced by April 16. The Jamaica Olympic Sprint Team made a near clean sweep in Beijing, overwhelming the United States, the traditional powerhouse of sprinting. It was the first time one country had claimed so many medals since 1912. Usain Bolt won gold in the men’s 100 and 200 metres, Veronica Campbell-Brown successfully defended the 200 metres and Shelly-Ann Fraser became the first Jamaican woman to win the Olympic 100 metres. The men’s team also won 4x100 metres relay gold. Zou Kai’s victory on the horizontal bars on the last day of competition in Beijing gave him his third gold medal and the China Olympic Gymnastics Team their ninth. It was a perfect ending to the host country's brilliant gymnastic display, giving it the best result ever in the discipline. China’s other gold medals came from Chen Yibing, He Kexin, Li Xiaopeng and Xiao Qin. In addition to staging a spectacular Olympic Games, host nation China recorded their best ever Olympic results. The full China Olympic Team led the final medals table with 51 gold, 21 silver and 28 bronze. The Great Britain Cycling Team won eight gold medals, four silver and two bronze, dominating the sport. The individual gold medallists were Nicole Cooke, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Rebecca Romero and Bradley Wiggins. And there were team gold medals in the Men’s Team Pursuit and Men’s Team Sprint. The Germany Men’s Olympic Hockey Team beat Spain 1-0 to win the Olympic gold medal. Christopher Zeller’s goal in the 16th minute gave the Germans their first Olympic hockey title since 1992. While the Olympics dominated the sporting scene in August, it was football that produced some sparkling team displays earlier in the year. The Spain Football Team, under coach Luis Aragones, won the European Football Championship. It was Spain’s first major title for 44 years. They beat three-times champions Germany 1-0 in the final with a goal by Fernando Torres. Spain's total of 12 goals made them leading scorers and Xavi was named Player of the Tournament. Under coach Sir Alex Ferguson, English Premier League club Manchester United won their third European Cup/Champions League and also the English Premier League Championship in 2008. Just days after having secured their 17th English League title, they beat English rivals Chelsea on penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time in the Champions League final in Moscow on May 21. The star of Manchester United’s season was Portuguese striker Crsitiano Ronaldo who scored 42 goals. The Egypt Football Team won a record sixth African Nations Cup, beating Cameroon 1-0 in the final in Accra, Ghana in February. Mohamed Aboutrika scored the winning goal. They won the inaugural African Nations Cup in Sudan in 1957 and also won in 1959, 1986, 1998 and 2006. One team managed to be represented in both camps - Olympics and Football – as the Argentina Olympic Football Team retained the Olympic title they won in Athens, beating Nigeria 1-0 in the final in Beijing. This year there is a strong challenge from the United States. New York Giants staged one of the biggest upsets in NFL history, winning the Super Bowl 17-14 and preventing hot favourites New England Patriots becoming the first undefeated team since 1972. While Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA basketball play-offs for a record 17th time. Philadelphia Phillies, the oldest continuous one-name, one-city franchise in American professional sport, won only the second baseball World Series in their 126-year history, when they beat Tampa Bay Rays 4-1, with Cole Hamels being named Most Valuable Player. Detroit Red Wings victory over Pittsburgh Penguins was their 11th Stanley Cup ice hockey championship. They have now made the playoffs in 23 of the last 25 seasons, including the last 17 in a row – the longest current streak of post-season appearances in American professional sport. One of the sporting victories most enjoyed in the United States took place in Kentucky in September. Led by six determined rookies, inspired by a brilliant captain in Paul Azinger and roared on by a passionate crowd, the United States Ryder Cup Team beat favourites Europe 16½-11½ in this historic golfing encounter for the first time in nine years. More impressively, they did it without the best golfer in the world, Tiger Woods, who was injured. The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula One Team provided the car driven by Lewis Hamilton as he became the youngest ever Formula One World Champion. During the year the team won six Grand Prix - Hamilton won in Australia, Monaco, Britain, Germany and China, and his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen won in Hungary. But McLaren did not win the Constructors World Championship. That was taken by Ferrari for a record 16th time with their drivers Felipe Massa and Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen. Ferrari won eight Grand Prix – Bahrain, Turkey, France, European, Belgium and Brazil (Massa) and Malaysia and Spain (Raikkonen). In rugby, it may not have made up for losing to France in the quarter-final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, but 2008 was a wonderful year for the New Zealand All Blacks as they re-established themselves as the top team in the world. They won the Tri-Nations Series against Australia and World Champions South Africa, then they completed an autumn Grand Slam in the British Isles, beating Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. The All Blacks were named International Rugby Board Team of the Year and their coach Graham Henry was voted Coach of the Year. In cricket, South Africa became the first team in 16 years to win a Test Series in Australia. If they had won the final game in Sydney, they would have taken over the No.1 world ranking from the Australians. During the year, South Africa won 11 out of 15 Tests, losing just two matches. They won the Test series in England and drew in India. Captained and coached by Australian spin legend Shane Warne, Rajasthan Royals cricket team won the inaugural Indian Premier League, despite being regarded by some as one of the weaker teams in the league. The team lost its first match by nine wickets, then recovered for an 11-3 winning record to qualify for the play-offs. They beat Delhi in the semi-finals and Chennai by three wickets in the final in June. Double Olympic gold medallist Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “The Olympic Games produced some memorable moments. As well as producing a great Games, the Chinese certainly delivered on the medal count. And as a former track runner myself, I thought the performances of the Jamaican sprinters were amazing. Having Franz Beckenbauer and Bobby Charlton as Academy members, I know just what a great year it was for football. Whichever six teams are nominated from whichever sports, the Academy is going to have a truly great list of nominees to vote for.” There is a two-part voting process to find the winners of the Laureus World Sports Awards. Firstly, a Selection Panel of the world’s leading sports editors, writers and broadcasters from over 120 countries votes to create a shortlist of six nominations in various categories including Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, Laureus World Team of the Year, Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year and Laureus World Comeback of the Year. The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy then vote by secret ballot to select the Award winners. The Laureus Academy is the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time, who have made an outstanding contribution to world sport. The Laureus Academy members also vote for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year, the nominations for which are made by specialist panels. The 2008 Awards Ceremony in St.Petersburg, held in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was attended by global figures from sport, entertainment, business and fashion. In addition to members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, among the guests present were Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, England football coach Fabio Capello, Russian swimming star Alexander Popov, Paralympic ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius and Tour De France winner Alberto Contador. From the world of entertainment there was Kim Catrall, Cuba Gooding Jnr, Dennis Hopper and Kyle MacLachlan. Among the legends of sport who were present to receive Awards were tennis legends Roger Federer and Justine Henin, British racing driver Lewis Hamiton, wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer and members of the South African team, which won the Rugby World Cup.


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9:38 AM  

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