From soccer genius Lionel Messi to sprint king Usain Bolt, a shimmering array of the world’s greatest sports stars are in the race for top honours at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards — also called the ‘Oscars of Sport’ — to be presented here tomorrow.
The generous sprinkling of stars is not just limited to the men’s nominations with the women’s category also featuring iconic names like tennis queen Serena Williams and track and field’s “Pocket Rocket” Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce among others.
In the men’s category, three-time winner Bolt and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi, are joined by tennis No.1 Novak Djokovic, triple Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton along with first time nominees Stephen Curry, star of NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and golf’s world No.1 Jordan Spieth, who has also been nominated in the ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ category.
In the quintet, Messi is perhaps the biggest star to have never won this coveted trophy even though he has been nominated in five previous editions.
Winner of the Ballon d’Or for a fifth time, the Argentine genius played a crucial role in Barcelona’s outstanding season last year, in which the Spanish giants won the Champions League, La Liga and the Copa del Rey treble.
Among his 43 goals in La Liga, he scored a record 32nd hat-trick for Barcelona.
Djokovic, who won this award in 2012 and ’15, clinched three Grand Slams — Australian, Wimbledon and US Open — last year and was finalist in the French Open.
He became only the third man to reach all four finals in the same year and also the first to win six Masters 1000 events in one year. In 2015, he reached 15 consecutive finals and won 11 titles.
Bolt, on the other hand, reaffirmed his status as the greatest sprinter the world has ever seen by defending his 100 metres, 200 metres and 4×100 metres titles at the World Championships. The Jamaican superstar took his career tally to 17 world and Olympic gold medals in the year gone by.
Among the women, Serena will once again be a top contender for the coveted trophy after securing her 10th Laureus nomination. The American icon sparkled in the year gone by with three Grand Slams.
On the other hand, Fraser Pryce continued to rule the 100 metres event with her second straight World Championships gold medal, which took her overall tally to third. The 28-year-old is the only woman to be crowned 100m world champion three times (2009, 2013, 2015). Last year, she also steered the Jamaican women’s 4x100m team to a world gold.