Three of the most exciting young sports stars of their generation, who have proved world-beaters despite their age, have been honoured at the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards – hosted by Benedict Cumberbatch – in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Germany’s Sebastian Vettel, the youngest four-time Formula One world champion in history at 26, was named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, US swimmer Missy Franklin, at 18, became the youngest ever winner of the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award, while Spain’s Marc Márquez received the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award, after winning the World MotoGP Championship at just 20 years and 266 days.
There was double delight for both Germany and Spain when the Awards were announced. Bayern Munich joined Vettel as winners, taking the Laureus World Team of the Year Award, while tennis maestro Rafael Nadal received the Laureus Comeback Award to celebrate, with Márquez, a wonderful night for Spanish sport.
The Laureus World Sports Awards are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen. Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Since its inception, Laureus has raised €60 million for projects which have improved the lives of millions of young people.
Sebastian Vettel’s success was particularly satisfying for the young German racer, who had been nominated five times for a Laureus Award, before finally winning. His fourth straight World Championship in 2013 saw him join motor racing legends Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost, who all won at least four times, but he did it more quickly than them – at just 26 years and 116 days.
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Missy Franklin was the sensation of the World Championships in Barcelona, becoming the first woman swimmer in history to win six gold medals at a single World Championships – three individual and three relay – at the age of just 18. She continues to refuse prize money and endorsements so that she can maintain her amateur status in college.
Bayern Munich were presented with the Laureus World Team of the Year Award after becoming the first football club to complete the treble of UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup. Six of their players were nominated for the FIFA Player of the Year Award: Philipp Lahm, Thomas Mueller, Manuel Neuer, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Spain’s Marc Márquez was presented with the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award after becoming the youngest ever MotoGP world champion, at 20 years 266 days. He also made history by becoming the youngest winner of a Grand Prix, in Austin in April, at 20 years 63 days.
It was Márquez’ first Laureus Award, but his fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal secured his third Laureus Statuette, when he won the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award, returning after a seven-month absence because of injury to win the French Open and US Open Grand Slam titles and regain his No 1 world ranking.
France’s Marie Bochet, aged 19, won the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award after becoming the first athlete to complete a Grand Slam of all five events at one Alpine Skiing World Championships.
Britain’s BMX star Jamie Bestwick, now based in the United States, won the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award after becoming the only athlete in X Games history to win eight straight gold medals, two more than legends such as Tony Hawk and Shaun White.
The Laureus World Sports Academy presented two additional discretionary Awards. The Laureus Spirit of Sport Award was won by the Afghanistan Cricket Team, who qualified for the Cricket World Cup for the first time in their history, and the Laureus Sport for Good Award was presented to Magic Bus, the sports-based community project in India.
The Awards Ceremony was held at the Istana Budaya, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and was hosted by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Oscar and Grammy winner Jamie Foxx performed to the star-studded audience. German actor Daniel Brühl, who played Niki Lauda in the film Rush, was present along with Chinese supermodel and actress Du Juan.
The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy present were: Giacomo Agostini, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Deng Yaping, Kapil Dev, Mick Doohan, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dawn Fraser, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Tony Hawk, Michael Johnson, Franz Klammer, Edwin Moses (Chairman), Ilie Nastase, Alexey Nemov, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Mark Spitz, Daley Thompson and Steve Waugh.
Other sports guests included: Vitor Baia, Robert Baker, Kenny Belaey, Jamie Bestwick, Marie Bochet, Ronald de Boer, Annabelle Bond, Daniel Brühl, Bob Burnquist, Eric Cantona, Fabio Capello, All Black Dan Carter, Lee Chong Wei, David Coulthard, Johan Cruyff, Nicol David, Deng Yaping, Du Juan, Paulo Ferreira, Nacho Figueras, Emerson Fittipaldi, Missy Franklin, Maya Gabeira, Stephanie Gilmore, Ruud Gullit, Lewis Hamilton, Raphael Holzdeppe, Nico Hülkenberg, Philip Köster, Michael Laudrup, Tegla Loroupe, Steve McManaman, Marc Márquez, Felipe Massa, Gaizka Mendieta, Luis Milla, Hidetoshi Nakata, Antonis Nikopolidis, Sophie Pascoe, Nico Rosberg, Sarah Louise Rung, Axel Schulz, Jimmy Spithill, Angelika Timanina, and Sebastian Vettel.
Among other guests present were Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia; YB Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, Malaysia Minister for Youth and Sports; YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri, Malaysia Minister of Tourism and Culture.
The Awards were announced in seven categories. The winners are:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Sebastian Vettel
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Missy Franklin
Laureus World Team of the Year: Bayern Munich
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Marc Márquez
Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Rafael Nadal
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Marie Bochet
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Jamie Bestwick
There were two additional Awards: the Laureus Spirit of Sport Award was presented to the Afghanistan Cricket Team and the Laureus Sport for Good Award was presented to Magic Bus, the sports-based community project in India.