Novak Djokovic picked up the best Sportsman accolade as the world’s sporting elite gathered in London for the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards - the Oscars of sport.
The shortlist is compiled by the world’s sporting media but the winners are voted for by members of the Laureus Academy, the group of sporting champions who have 54 Olympic gold medals, 43 tennis Grand Slams, 32 Major golf championships, 20 world motorcycling championships, 11 Paralympic gold medals – between them.
The other awe-inspiring names in the Sportsman of the Year category included the world’s fastest athlete, Usain Bolt, winner of football’s Ballon d’Or, Tour de France winner Cadel Evans Lionel Messi, and 11-time Formula 1 winner, Sebastian Vettel.
Djokovic took the tennis world by storm in 2011, and had reached world No1 spot by the middle of the same year, and there he has stayed.
Tennis veteran Boris Becker, one of the founding members of the Laureus Academy, explained his sport’s popularity: “Tennis is a very international sport. It’s played in all continents, the matches can be long and involving. And players don’t wear masks or helmets, so it’s a very, very good TV sport where you can see the player’s eyes.”
“I congratulate Novak on a wonderful year—one of the best seasons I can ever remember from an individual. Just a couple of years ago, men’s tennis was all about Federer and Nadal and then suddenly we have a new kid on the block who seems to have taken over the sport. We should acknowledge what a fantastic achievement it has been from him.”
He added: “I wonder sometimes how you do it. A five-hour match, then a six-hour match—I’m glad I played in the 80s!”
“I dared to dream about becoming the world’s best tennis player and the best athlete,” said Djokovic, “and here I stand before you with this very dear and special award, so I think everything’s possible. I would hope that each kid around the world will dare to dream, and that they will use their sport as the guiding star for the path they choose.”
List of winners
Sportsman: Novak Djokovic
Sportswoman: Vivian Cheruiyot
Breakthrough: Rory McIlroy
Comeback: Darren Clarke
Disability: Oscar Pistorius
Action: Kelly Slater
Lifetime achievement: Bobby Charlton
Sport For Good: Rai
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