BERLIN, Feb. 17, 2020 – In a moment of sporting history, the greatest Formula One driver of his generation Lewis Hamilton and Lionel Messi, the world’s greatest footballer, were declared joint winners of the prestigious Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, in front of a glittering international audience in Berlin.
Six-time Formula One world champion Hamilton and six-time FIFA World Player of the Year Messi were so close in terms of their achievements in 2019 that even the ultimate sporting jury, the Laureus World Sports Academy, could not split them, with the voting being tied for the very first time in the 20-year history of the Laureus Awards.
The Winners were revealed as the greatest room in sport gathered together to be part of the most important annual Awards Ceremony, this year celebrating the 20th anniversary of Laureus. The hugely popular event was hosted by actor Hugh Grant and the legends of sport past and present in the room were treated to entertainment from British singer-songwriter Liam Payne, former member of One Direction.
American sport is celebrating FOUR Awards. In 2019, Simone Biles continued to push the boundaries of the sport of gymnastics. At the World Championships, the 22-year-old won five gold medals, including a record fifth All-Around world title and helped USA win a fifth straight team medal. Biles has now won 25 World Championship medals, confirming her as the most decorated gymnast in history. In Berlin, she confirmed her place in the history of Laureus, winning her third coveted Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award in four years.
Snowboarding sensation Chloe Kim won the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award after another stellar year. Chloe won gold medals in the World Championship halfpipe and X Games Superpipe. In her early career, the 19-year-old has already won five X Games gold medals, an Olympic gold, World Championship gold and she’s now a double Laureus Award winner after her Action Sportsperson win in 2019.
In the Laureus Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability category, Oksana Masters, born with limb impairments caused by radiation from Chernobyl, and adopted by an American single parent, was recognised by the Laureus World Sports Academy for an outstanding year in 2019. She won five gold medals and a silver at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships, plus the cross-country overall World Cup title. She also won silver medals in the road race and time trial H5 at the Para Cycling Road World Championships.
South Bronx United (SBU), a football programme based in New York, was honoured with the Laureus Sport for Good Award. The programme uses football to achieve educational outcomes for young people from underserved communities.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup winners South Africa won their second Laureus World Team of the Year Award, beating JÃ¼rgen Klopp’s Liverpool and the US Women’s Football Team, among others. The memory of Siya Kolisi, South Africa’s historic first black Test rugby captain, lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy in Yokohama, was an iconic moment in sport and the audience in the Verti Halle in Berlin applauded the emotional moment when Kolisi led six of the team members on stage to receive the Laureus Statuette. The team’s victory united communities back in South Africa, and was proof of sport’s ability to change the world.
For the 2020 Laureus World Comeback of the Year, the number 276 will be a constant reminder of the resilience, courage and dedication it takes to return from the toughest setbacks. Travelling at 276km per hour, F3 driver Germany’s Sophia FlÃ¶rsch lost control of her car at the Macau circuit, crashing through safety barriers and leaving her with a spinal fracture which required an 11-hour surgery and months of rehabilitation. In November 2019, a year on from her accident, 18-year-old Sophia was back in the cockpit, racing once again in the Macau Grand Prix.
At 22, Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Egan Bernal became the youngest rider to win the Tour de France for 110 years, wearing the yellow jersey down the Champs-Ã‰lysÃ©es in what was only his second three-week classic event. A proud Colombian, Bernal’s win united his nation back home as he became the first Colombian to win the world famous cycling event.
With the incredible backing of Indian cricket fans, who united in support of their hero, the Laureus Sporting Moment Award (2000-2020) public fan vote was won by Sachin Tendulkar. Voted for by sports fans around the world, the Award celebrated moments from the past two decades where sport has unified people in the most extraordinary way. On his sixth attempt, Tendulkar led India to victory at the 2011 ICC World Cup. The victory could not have been more historic, as it was India’s first World Cup win on home soil and their second ever triumph.
German basketball great Dirk Nowitzki was recognised at the Ceremony with the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the sport of basketball. Widely regarded to be the greatest European basketball player ever, Nowitzki spent his entire 21-year career at the Dallas Mavericks. Nowitzki retired at the end of the 2018-19 season, and will go down in history as the only player to record at least 31,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, 1,000 steals, 1,000 blocks and 1,000 three-pointers.
The Laureus World Sports Academy recognised the Spanish Basketball Federation with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award, an Award which has only ever been granted four times. Spanish basketball is enjoying unmatched success, with the Men’s team winning the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, and being hotly tipped to succeed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games later this year. The Spanish Women’s Basketball Team have established themselves as the dominant force in European basketball having won three of the last four EuroBasket championships.
It was at the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000 that Laureus Patron, Nelson Mandela, spoke the words which sparked the creation of the worldwide Sport for Good movement. 20 years on, these words still guide Laureus today – ‘Sport has the power to change the world; to unite people in a way little else does’. From sports stars to sports fans and the young people in Laureus Sport for Good programmes around the world: Sport Unites Us.
The full list of winners is:
- Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Lewis Hamilton and Lionel Messi
- Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Simone Biles
- Laureus World Team of the Year: South Africa Men’s Rugby Team
- Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Egan Bernal
- Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Sophia FlÃ¶rsch
- Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Oksana Masters
- Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Chloe Kim
- Laureus Best Sporting Moment: ‘Carried on the shoulders of a nation’ – Sachin Tendulkar
- Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award: Dirk Nowitzki
- Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award: Spanish Basketball Federation
- Laureus Sport for Good Award: South Bronx United