•       Media must vote by January 23 if they wish to support Asian favourites
•       Votes from around the world come in for greatest sports stars of year
•       Laureus World Sports Awards to be held in Shanghai from April 13-15

Asian sports stars are making a strong showing as voting by the world’s media gets underway for the Nominations for the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards.

There is considerable for support for China’s Li Na for the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award, after she won her second Grand Slam, the Australian Open, in January 2014 and a month later achieved a career-best ranking of world No.2. Seven months later she was forced to retire, at the age of 32, because of knee injuries. She is admired as the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam which resulted in a significant increase in the growth of tennis in China.

There are also many media votes for Chinese swimmer Shen Duo, just 17, for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award. She won six gold medals to become the most successful athlete in the Youth Olympic Games. Her spectacular performance in the pool was one of the highlights of the Games as she won the 100 and 200 metres freestyle, plus four freestyle and medley relays. Later in the year she won four more gold medals at the Asian Games.

Members of the Laureus Media Selection Panel have until FRIDAY, JANUARY 23 to vote for Li Na, Shen Duo and other favourite local and international sports stars.

The Laureus World Sports Awards is recognised as the premier honours event in the international sporting calendar. The names of the Nominees – six in each category – will be announced on February 11, with the eventual winner being revealed at the Laureus Awards Ceremony in Shanghai on April15.

Also challenging Li Na for the Laureus Sportswoman Award is short track Chinese speed skater Zhou Yang, who took the gold medal by defending her 1,500 metres title in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and Malaysia’s Nicol David, who once again totally dominated her sport of squash, winning her fifth British Open, her third straight US Open and her ninth Hong Kong Open.

While in the Breakthrough category, along with Shen Duo, China’s Fan Zhendong won the men’s singles and mixed team table tennis gold medals in the Youth Olympic Games and Xu Shilin, at 16, won the women’s singles gold medal. With the retirement of Li Na, she is already being talked of as the next great Chinese tennis player.

There are four strong Asian candidates for Nomination for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award. China’s Zhang Jike won the World Cup in Dusseldorf and was a member of the Chinese team which won the World Team Championship in Tokyo. He is also the reigning world and Olympic champion in singles and only the fourth male player in the history of table tennis to achieve a career Grand Slam, achieving this in the fastest time of 445 days.

Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura won his fifth straight All-Around world title in 2014, the only person ever to have achieved this – a run of dominance unprecedented in the sport.

Legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao from the Philippines, now 36, completed a remarkable comeback in 2014, beating Timothy Bradley in April to win the WBO Welterweight title, then in November defended it against Chris Algieri in Macao. And Chinese swimmer Ning Ze Tao won four gold medals in the Asian Games, in 50 and 100 metres and 4 x 100m freestyle relay and 4 x 100m medley relay, setting Asian records in the 100m and the freestyle relay. It was the first time China had won the medley relay.

The Laureus World Sports Awards recognise sporting achievement during the calendar year 2014. The Nominees are voted for by the Laureus Global Media Selection Panel, comprising leading sports editors, sports writers, broadcasters and online journalists from around the world. The eventual winner will then be chosen from that list in a secret ballot by the ultimate sports jury, the 47 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy – the living legends of sport honouring the greatest athletes of today.

The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier honours event in the international sporting calendar. The names of the winners in various categories will be revealed at the Awards Ceremony to be held in Shanghai on 15 April.

Among the sporting greats who have previously been named as winners of Laureus World Sports Awards over the last 15 years have been Usain Bolt, Sebastian Coe, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Alex Ferguson, Lewis Hamilton, Kelly Holmes, Yao Ming, Rafael Nadal, Pelé, Steve Redgrave, Ronaldo, Michael Schumacher, Kelly Slater, Shaun White, Serena Williams, Liu Xiang and Zinedine Zidane.
Guests who have attended previous Awards Ceremony in the past have included His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain, HSH Prince Albert of Monaco, David and Victoria Beckham, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sean Connery, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Morgan Freeman, Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey.

Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports more than 150 sports-based community projects in 34 countries around the world that have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people.

Members of the Laureus World Sports Academy and Laureus Ambassadors volunteer their time to act as global ambassadors for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, whose mission is to use sport as the means to combat some of the world’s toughest social challenges facing young people today such as juvenile crime, gangs, HIV/AIDS, discrimination, social exclusion, landmines awareness, education and health problems such as obesity. Since its inception Laureus has raised over €60 million to support projects around the world.

The globally televised Awards Ceremony, attended by many legends of sport past and present, will celebrate the achievements of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of the year. The Laureus World Sports Awards will be supported by Chinese textile and wool company HengYuanXiang Group (HYX), the Host Partner of the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards, and will receive the strong support of the Shanghai Municipal Government,
Shanghai, one of China’s most iconic travel destinations and one of the most spectacular cities on Earth, is a perfect location for the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards. A popular tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks, such as The Bund, City God Temple and Yu Garden, as well as the dramatic Lujiazui skyline, it is a showcase for the booming economy of China. Shanghai mixes old world charm with a modern and vibrant city, perfectly blending the past and present. Shanghai annually hosts some of the biggest sports events in the world, including the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix and the IAAF Shanghai Diamond League meeting.

Enjoying a long-standing reputation in China, HYX is a leading force in the textile and garment industry. In recent years HYX has evolved into a modern enterprise developing its own unique ‘brand and culture’, through brands like ‘HYX’, ‘Fazeya’ and ‘Nanonan’. For many years, HYX has actively focused on sport and been a partner in sports events like football, basketball, gymnastics and marathon. In December 2005, HYX became the first non-sports textile and costume sponsor in the history of the Olympics and three years later became the first partner of the Chinese Olympic Committee, customizing the Olympic kit for Chinese athletes.

The ‘Eternal Love’ programme, co-founded by HYX and the China Children and Teenagers’ Foundation, has won the China Charity Award twice, being honoured as the No.1 activity for caring for orphaned and disabled children in China. Also, the ‘HYX Literature Star High School Students’ Writing Contest’ has become the most influential event of its kind, attracting the largest number of contestants. In 1997 and 2007 HYX supported the ‘10,000 Teenagers’ Recreational and Sports Activities’ event in Tiananmen Square, in Beijing, China, in the hope of promoting the health of teenagers. For a long time, HYX has been an active partner in sports events like football, basketball, gymnastics and marathon.

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