Ennis, Murray and Coe honoured at Laureus Awards ceremony in Rio after stunning year for British sport
party just a little while longer.
British athletes, past and present, dominated at the Laureus World Sports awards in Rio de Janeiro on Monday night, as the world of international sport gathered at a glittering ceremony to celebrate an unforgettable year.
Britain may have handed over the Olympic and Paralympic flames to the 2016 host city, but the memory of London 2012 still burnt particularly bright 6,000 miles away in south America on Monday night.
Congratulations: Track and field athlete Jessica Ennis receives her award for 'Laureus Sportswomen of the Year' as presenters Nadia Comaneci and Eva Longoria look on
Couldn't make it: Andy Murray accepts his award on video because he was in Indian Wells to face Evgeny Donskoy
World Sportsman of the Year – Usain Bolt
World Sportswoman of the Year – Jessica Ennis
World Breakthrough of the Year – Andy Murray
World Comeback of the Year – Felix Sanchez
World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability – Daniel Dias
Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award – Michael Phelps
Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award – Sebastian Coe
World Team of the Year – European Ryder Cup Team
World Action Sportsperson of the Year – Felix Baumgarter
Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis was crowned World Sportswoman of the Year, while Andy Murray won World Breakthrough and Sebastian Coe received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Ian Poulter also accepted the Team of the Year prize on behalf of his European Ryder Cup team-mates.
Tony Blair called Lord Coe one of the ‘giants of British sport’ as the chairman of the London 2012 organising committee and double Olympic champion received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Edwin Moses and was honoured with a standing ovation.
‘I’m surrounded by the most extraordinary group of people, global icons,’ said Lord Coe, ‘and I realise that there is a commonality in the unshakeable belief we have in sport and the fact it transforms lives. This is extraordinary. I’m very, very flattered.’
Ennis beat off competition from fellow Olympic track and field gold medallists Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Allyson Felix, swimmer Missy Franklin, skier Lindsey Vonn and tennis star Serena Williams to win her award, which was presented by former gymnast Nadia Comanechi.
A few hours earlier in a luxurious Rio hotel, Ennis had been discussing her shock and sadness at the closure of Don Valley Stadium in her hometown of Sheffield. Yet she looked equally composed collecting her award at the city’s dramatic Theatro Muncipal last night, during her 36-hour trip to the city in which she will aim to defend her Olympic title in three years’ time. We all know about the extraordinary pressure Ennis was under as the poster girl of London 2012, but it was poignant to see how the sporting world has realised it, too.
‘There was a lot of pressure in London,’ she said. ‘I looked back to what Cathy Freeman achieved in Sydney in 2000 (winning the 400 metres) and I really wanted to emulate that. I have incredible support from my friends and family and I was able to do it.’
Triumphant: Lord Sebastian Coe (above) won the Laureus Lifetime Achievement award while Usain Bolt (right and below) was crowned World Sportsman of the Year
The winners are chosen by the Laureus Sports Academy, comprising 46 of the ‘greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen’, including Sir Bobby Charlton, Daley Thompson and Sir Steve Redgrave, who were all in Rio. Double Olympic decathlon champion Thompson, however, was the only Academy member in a T-Shirt and tracksuit.
Thompson said: ‘Jessica’s performance was majestic. She had the whole weight of the country’s expectation on her shoulders. Despite that, she certainly delivered.
‘She not only produced a wonderful display in her events but she gave the British team an enormous lift. Jessica showed she could win a gold medal, so everyone who followed her also felt they could do it as well.’
Murray was another British winner, receiving the Laureus Breakthrough award after winning Olympic gold and silver and his first Grand Slam at the US Open champion last September.
The Scot, 25, did not attend the ceremony owing to playing commitments in Indian Wells, but said: ‘It was an amazing year: my first Grand Slam in New York and two medals at the Olympics in my home country.
Acceptance: Bolt takes his award from Michael Johnson, while Laureus Academy chairman Edwin Moses hands the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award to Coe
'I would have taken that at the start of the year, that’s for sure. Winning an award like this will definitely make me more determined to come back and do better in 2013.’
A video was shown of Poulter receiving the Team of the Year award to mark Europe’s thrilling comeback to win the Ryder Cup.
‘With the legends in sport that have voted for us, it truly is a special trophy to put our hands on,’ he said.
Redgrave presented Michael Phelps with
the inaugural Exceptional Achievement Award, while Mark Spitz also paid
the American a tribute via video link. Phelps, though, was emphatic he
has no intention of trying to add to his 22 Olympic medals in Rio in
Other winners included
Usain Bolt, who won gold in the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay in London
and became Sportsmen of the Year for the third time, and Felix Sanchez,
the Olympic 400m hurdles champion in 2012 – eight years after his
Olympic title in Athens.
swimmer Daniel Dias, who won six individual gold medals at the
Paralympic Games, fended off competition from Britain’s David Weir to
win Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. Austrian skydiver Felix
Baumgarter, who became the first human to go through the sound barrier
when he completed a 24-mile free fall over New Mexico in October, was
named World Action Sportsperson of the Year.
Nice work: Michael Phelps poses with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award in the winners studio at Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro