Renaud Lavillenie in contention after breaking Sergey Bubka’s 21-year record
Chinese Grand Slam star Zhang Jike wins table tennis World Cup
Rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson ends career after Euro triumph with Toulon
World’s media to vote for SIX Nominees for Laureus Sportsman Award
Laureus World Sports Awards to be held in Shanghai from April 13-15
Can Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo become the first ever footballer to win the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award?
Ronaldo, unveiled as winner of the Ballon d’Or World Footballer of the Year Award last week, will now be hoping to be one of the six Nominees to be chosen by the world’s media for the prestigious Laureus Award, which has been won in the past by legends like Michael Schumacher, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Usain Bolt.
In addition to receiving the Ballon d’Or, Ronaldo was also named UEFA Player of Year at the end of last season as he scored a record 17 goals for Real Madrid when they won the Champions League/European Cup for the tenth time. In December, he scored his 23rd hat-trick and his 200th goal in Spain’s La Liga.
The names of the Nominees will be announced on February 11 and Ronaldo will be competing with stars from every other sport for a place on the shortlist. Among those also hoping to be on the list will be: Lewis Hamilton and Marc Márquez, the hottest racers in motor sport; Rory McIlroy, the world’s No.1 golfer; France’s brilliant pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie; China’s table tennis idol Zhang Jike; and Jonny Wilkinson after his final season in rugby.
The eventual winner will be chosen in a secret ballot by the 47 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy and revealed at the Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony in Shanghai on April 15. Among the contenders:
Britain’s Lewis Hamilton won his second Formula One World Championship in 2014, with 11 Grand Prix victories, in the dominant Mercedes AMG Petronas car. Behind for much of the season to team-mate Nico Rosberg, he won six of the final seven Grand Prix to clinch a memorable world title. Also on the track, Spain’s Marc Márquez won his second straight World MotoGP title, at the age of 21. He opened the year with ten straight Grand Prix wins, then added three more to reach a season total of 13, beating the previous record of 12 by Laureus Academy Member Mick Doohan.
Rory McIlroy, the No.1 golfer in the world, won two Major Championships in 2014 – the British Open and the USPGA – and also won the flagship BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour and the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone event. He is the first European to win three different Majors, which he has achieved by the age of 25. He led the prize money list on both European and US Tours in 2014.
The outstanding athletics performance of the year came from France’sRenaud Lavillenie who jumped 6.16 metres in Donetsk to break Sergey Bubka’s pole vault record of 6.15m, which had stood for almost 21 years. He won 21 out of 22 competitions during the year, including winning the gold medal in the European Championships and six Diamond League races and was named IAAF Men’s Athlete of the Year. Germany’s Robert Harting once again dominated the discus, winning the gold medal in the European Championships.
Although beaten by Ronaldo for the Ballon d’Or, Lionel Messi will also be a strong contender after winning the Golden Ball as the best player in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, scoring four times as he led Argentina to the final.
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. No other gymnast, male or female, has won more than three.
Zhang Jike won the World Cup in Dusseldorf and was a member of the Chinese table tennis team which won the World Championship in Tokyo. He is also the reigning world and Olympic champion in singles and only the fourth man to win a career Grand Slam, achieving this in the fastest time of 445 days.
In his final season, Jonny Wilkinson played a key role in establishing Toulon as the most successful rugby club in the Northern Hemisphere. He scored 13 points as Toulon beat Saracens 23-6 in the final to win the Heineken European Cup for the second straight year. A week later he ended his glittering career in style, kicking 15 points as Toulon won the French Top 14 title with an 18-10 victory against Castres.
In winter sport, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher became the first man in over 30 years to win the Alpine Overall World Cup three years in row, also winning a Winter Olympic silver medal in the Slalom in Sochi, while Norway’s Ole Einar Bjørndalen won the 10km sprint and mixed relay gold medals in Sochi to become the most decorated Winter Olympian ever, with 13 medals.
Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson was named ICC Cricketer of the Year for the second time and was also named the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year. He was a key factor in Australia’s 5-0 Ashes win over England and 2-1 win in South Africa, taking a total of 59 Test wickets at an average of 15.23.
In the pool, 22-year-old South African Chad le Clos became the first ever to complete a clean sweep of all butterfly titles at the World Short Course Championships, winning gold medals in the 50, 100 and 200 metres. He also took a fourth gold medal in the 200m freestyle. China’s Ning Ze Tao, at 21, won four gold medals in the Asian Games, in 50m, 100m 4 x 100m freestyle relay and 4 x 100m medley relay.
Floyd Mayweather remained No.1 boxer in the world, beating Marcos Maidana twice in 2014 to take his career record to 47-0. Another two victories will take him to an identical 49-0 record with legendary heavyweight Rocky Marciano. Manny Pacquiao, now 36, completed a remarkable comeback after his shattering six-round knock-out defeat by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012. He first beat Timothy Bradley in April to win the WBO Welterweight title, then in November defended it against Chris Algieri in Macao.
With final averages of 32 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game, Oklahoma Thunder star Kevin Durant led the NBA in scoring for a fourth time and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. Durant scored 25 points or more in 41 consecutive games, passing Michael Jordan’s total of 40. In baseball, Mike Trout was unanimously voted American League Most Valuable Player, after a sparkling year with the Los Angeles Angels with personal bests in runs batted in (111) and home runs (36).
In other sports: Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali won his first Tour de France in 2014 by more than seven minutes, becoming the sixth man to win all three Grand Tours – the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana; AdolfoCambiaso, ranked No.1 in the world, captained star Argentine team La Dolfina to a third polo Triple Crown – Argentine Open, Tortuga Open and Hurlingham Open – for the second straight year, the first time this feat has been achieved for nearly 40 years; and Spain’s Javier Gomez secured his fourth ITU World Triathlon Championship to equal Simon Lessing’s record, then followed up with the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Quebec one week later.
The Nominees will be announced on February 11 and the Winners will be unveiled at the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony at the Grand Theatre Shanghai on April 15.