Wrestler Vinesh Phogat Becomes first Indian to be Nominated for Laureus World Sports Awards

Vinesh Phogat
Vinesh Phogat

The votes are in and the world’s sports media have selected the highest achieving men, women and teams over the past calendar year as the Nominees for the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards, the world’s pre-eminent international sports awards.

Wrestler Vinesh Phogat, who won a gold medal at the XXI Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Asian Games, becomes the first Indian to receive a nomination in the history of Laureus World Sports Awards.

The 24-year-old from Bhiwani district in Haryana made a sensational comeback after a long and testing battle with injury she sustained during the Quarter Finals of 50kg freestyle wrestling event at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Vinesh’s efforts have won her a nomination for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year alongside US Tour Championship winner Tiger Woods, who won his first tournament in five years.

Also nominated are four inspirational Winter Olympic athletes; Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu, Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris, US ski racing legendLindsey Vonn and Dutch Paralympic champion Bibian Mentel-Spee.

The last time an Indian sporting feat made its way to the Laureus World Sports Awards was in 2004 when the Indian Cricket Team and Pakistan Cricket Team shared the Laureus Sport for Good Award for playing an International match despite political tensions between the two countries.

Most recently, Magic Bus from India won the Laureus Sport for Good award in 2014. However, Vinesh makes history as the first Indian athlete to be nominated in one of the seven main categories at the Laureus World Sports Awards.

FIFA World Champions France are in contention for Laureus World Team of the Year while stars of the tournament Kylian Mbappé and Luka Modric receive nominations in the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year category.

PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games medalists also feature heavily, with Ester Ledecka and Mikaela Shiffrin nominated for Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, the Norway Winter Olympics Team recognised in the Laureus World Team of the Year category and Sophia Goggia listed among the nominees for Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year.

In contention for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year are Winter Olympic medalists Yuzuru Hanyu, Mark McMorris, Bibian Mentel-Speeand Lindsey Vonn, while Paralympic gold medalists Henrieta Farkasova, Brian McKeever and Oksana Masters are nominated for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, Kenyan marathon world record-breaker Eliud Kipchoge, tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic and NBA great LeBron James join FIFA World Cup Golden Ball winner Luka Modric and FIFA Best Young Player Kylian Mbappé in what promises to be a hotly contested Laureus World Sportsman of the Year category.

Winter Olympic champions Ester Ledecka and Mikaela Shiffrin are joined in the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award category by celebrated gymnast and the first woman to win four All-Around world titles Simone Biles, Grand Slam tennis champions Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber and four-time Ironman World Champion Daniela Ryf.

After winning their fifth straight Formula One Constructors World Championship, Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team pick up their third nomination in a row for the Laureus World Team of the Year. Joining them and France Men’s Football Team in a category filled with world-beating teams are three-in-a-row Champions League winners Real Madrid, Winter Olympic medal table-toppers Norway Winter Olympics Team, NBA champions Golden State Warriors and the victorious European Ryder Cup Team.

Trailblazing Spaniard Ana Carrasco, the first woman to secure a motor cycling world title, is nominated for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year. Joining Carrasco isJapan’s first ever Grand Slam tennis champion Naomi Osaka, Norwegian teenage European 1500 and 5000m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, Italian downhill skiing champion Sofia Goggia and Jamaican sprint sensation Briana Williams.

The toughest competition is likely to be for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award. Joining the Paralympic gold medalists in a category shortlisted by a select panel from the International Paralympic Committee are Wimbledon, Australian Open and US Open champion wheelchair tennis star Diede de Groot, undefeated Boccia star Grigorios Polychronidis and T64 men’s long jump world record holder Markus Rehm.

Surfing and snowboarding superstars lead the nominations for the Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year Award. Australian surfing great Stephanie Gilmore, who won her record-equalling seventh world title in Hawaii, is nominated alongside two Brazilians: men’s world champion Gabriel Medina and record-breaking big-wave surfer Maya Gabeira. Also in contention in the category are US Winter Olympic snowboard champions Chloe Kim and Shaun White and Austrian Big Air gold medalist Anna Gasser.

The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during 2018, are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners, as voted for by the 66 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, will be unveiled at the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco on February 18.

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Edited by Aravind Suchindran
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