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April 16, 2015

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Home » Sports » Awards

Djokovic, Dibaba scoop top prizes

SERBIAN tennis player Novak Djokovic won the Laureus Academy Sportsman of The Year Award while the women’s award went to Ethiopian distance runner Genzebe Dibaba.

Retired Chinese tennis player Li Na was given the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award at Shanghai Grand Theatre last night, while Yao Ming got the Spirit of Sport Award, his second Laureus honor after winning the Newcomer Award in 2003.

Li was nominated for the sportswoman award along with rival Serena Williams, shot put champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand, Norwegian skier Marit Bjorgen and Slovenian skier Tina Maze.

“I prepared long time for an English speech. However, I forgot everything the moment I walked onto the stage,” admitted Li, who is going to give birth to her first baby in a few months’ time.

Li said she didn’t know before that there was an exceptional achievement award, and had been eyeing the sportswoman award all this while.

“I thought I would finally have a chance to beat Serena given my home-court advantage,” she joked. “To be nominated for the sportswoman award is already a great honor, though I think every single one of the six candidates is eager for the award.”

This is only the second time the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award has been presented. The other recipient was American swimmer Michael Phelps.

Djokovic beat footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, golfer Rory McIlroy, athlete Renaud Lavillenie and motorcyclist Marc Marquez to win his second Sportsman of the Year Award.

The absent Serb, who is playing in Monaco, expressed his thanks through a video. “This is probably the crown of my 2014 season that has been highlighted with winning Wimbledon, regaining No. 1 in the world and becoming a father. It has probably been the best year so far in my life.”

Ethiopia’s Dibaba was named Sportswoman of the Year after breaking three world records in different events in two weeks. She was the third person in history to do so after Jesse Owens and Usain Bolt.

“This award has great value in sports. It will give me great encouragement. Next, there are the world championships, and a lot is expected of me in 2016 (Olympics). I think I can get the gold. In my life, I want to have something I can mention as historical, and I want to make that in 2016.”

The Laureus World Team of the Year Award was presented to the German football team following its triumph in Brazil last year, which was the country’s fourth World Cup title.

“At the final whistle we were together on the pitch, the coaches, players, team staff members. It was such a connection amongst us. For some of us it was a ten-year project, and so we were so happy at this moment,” Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said after taking the trophy from Italian coach Fabio Capello.

The Action Sportsperson Award was given to American skydiver Alan Eustace. South African rugby star Schalk Burger received the Comeback of the Year Award. Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo won the Breakthrough Award. American wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden was the Disability Award winner.

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch partnered local TV presenter Chen Cheng in hosting the awards ceremony.


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