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Lionel Messi, Novak Djokovic, Simone Biles among athletes nominated for Laureus World Sports Awards 2024

Published at :February 26, 2024 at 7:29 PM
Modified at :February 26, 2024 at 7:29 PM
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The nominations for the 25th Laureus World Sports Awards have been announced, marking the countdown to the most prestigious night in sport, to be staged in Madrid on April 22. ‘The Laureus’ is recognised as the ‘Ultimate Global Athletes’ Award’ and remains the gold standard for the stars of world sport, who each year hope to see their names added to a list of winners that includes all-time greats.

The official Nominations announcement was staged at the historic Casa de Correos in Madrid, headquarters of the Presidency of the Community of Madrid, attended by representatives of Awards Host Partners, including the President of the Madrid Region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, and the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida. Also in attendance at the announcement were global sporting legends and Laureus Academy Members Luís Figo, Ruud Gullit, Nawal El Moutawakel and Alessandro Del Piero.

Six Nominees have been selected in each of the traditional seven Award categories by the 1,300 members of the Laureus Global Media Panel and, in the case of the Award for Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability, a vote by the International Paralympic Committee. Alongside the elite categories, the Laureus Sport for Good Award will go to a programme which reflects the inspirational words of Laureus’ first Patron, Nelson Mandela, who said that “Sport had the power to change the world”.

But what makes these awards unique is the final stage of the judging process: a vote by the 69 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy – Olympic champions, world-record breakers, athletes who redefined their sports and who now make up the ultimate jury on sporting greatness.

Following his show-stopping win in Paris last year, Lionel Messi is again nominated for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, after a year in which he won a record eighth Ballon d’Or and led Inter Miami CF to victory in the Leagues Cup – his 44th trophy, another record.

Novak Djokovic, a four-time winner of this Award, won in Melbourne, New York and Paris to move to 24 major titles, matching Margaret Court for the all-time mark in tennis.

Max Verstappen won this Award in 2022 and last year set records with 10 consecutive Grand Prix wins and 19 victories in one season as he became the fifth Formula One driver to record a hat-trick of championship wins.

Mondo Duplantis raised his own pole vault world record on two further occasions, either side of a second world title. No sprinter had swept the board at a World Championship since Usain Bolt in 2015, until Noah Lyles took gold in the 100, 200 and 4 x 100m relay. Erling Haaland scored 52 goals as Manchester City won the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup.

Four-time Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Novak Djokovic said: “I am thrilled to be nominated once again for Laureus World Sportsman of the Year. I have won this Award four times, and each one has been very special and unforgettable in its own way. It’s an honour unlike any other because it’s the Laureus Academy who make the decision, and they know what it’s like to reach the summit of their sport, and what it takes to stay there.

“This year, as ever, I’m overwhelmed by the quality of the athletes I am nominated alongside. This is what makes the Laureus Awards so special for us, and why we want to win as much as we do when we are competing.”

Three of our Nominees for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award starred at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest. Faith Kipyegon of Kenya became the first woman to win the double of 1,500 and 5,000 metres. Sha’Carri Richardson won a classic 100 metres from lane nine in her first global final and added 4×100 metres gold.

Shericka Jackson’s winning time of 21.41 seconds in the 200 metres was the second fastest all-time, seven hundredths of a second short of Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 35-year-old mark. In tennis, Poland’s Iga Świątek won her third French Open title in 2023 and regained her No.1 spot in the world rankings with victory at the WTA Finals in Cancun.

The footballer of the year was Aitana Bonmatí: she won the World Cup – and the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player – with Spain, Liga F and the UEFA Women’s Champions League with FC Barcelona Femení plus the Ballon d’Or. Finally, 2023 was the year Mikaela Shiffrin passed the all-time mark of 86 World Cup wins set by Ingemar Stenmark, and the American also won her seventh World Championship gold in giant slalom.

Mikaela Shiffrin said: “There is nothing like the Laureus Awards when it comes to bringing athletes together to celebrate not just what we’ve all achieved, but the impact sport has globally. Laureus gives us a unique platform to interact with each other and make a difference. 2023 was an absolutely incredible year for me—and was even more special after what I’ve experienced in the last few years.

“Since I reset the record last season, I’ve thought a lot about why a record is actually important to an athlete…and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not important to merely break records or reset records. It’s important to set the tone for the next generation and inspire them. That’s why I’m honoured to be nominated for the Sportswoman Award once more alongside such an inspirational group of fellow athletes.”

The Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award spotlights athletes who took a giant step forward in 2023. Jude Bellingham moved to Real Madrid for €103 million just before his 20th birthday and was the worthy winner of the Golden Boy award as the best under-21 footballer in Europe – his Bernabeu career began with 10 goals in his first 10 starts.

Coco Gauff won her first Grand Slam title at the age of 19, beating Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the US Open. Qin Haiyang became the first swimmer in history to win all three breaststroke events (50/100/200 metres) at the World Championships. Josh Kerr defeated the favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen to win gold in the 1,500 metres with the run of his life at the World Athletic Championships.

At the football World Cup in Australia, Salma Paralluelo’s goals helped Spain to the title and she became the only footballer to win the World Cup at Under-17, Under-20 and senior levels. Linda Caicedo of Colombia played in all three iterations of the tournament in the same year – three years after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The Nominees for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award feature winning groups who achieved new levels of success in 2023. The Spain Women’s Football Team beat England to win their first World Cup, after a tournament that elevated the women’s game to new levels of popularity. The Germany Men’s Basketball Team, powered by tournament MVP Dennis Schroder, won a thrilling FIBA Basketball World Cup semi-final over USA before clinching the title against Serbia.

For Manchester City, the Champions League was finally conquered in an unforgettable season that also brought glory in the Premier League and FA Cup. The Springboks won a record fourth men’s Rugby World Cup in dramatic fashion, defeating New Zealand by a single point in a memorable final. Oracle Red Bull Racing came close to perfection, with wins in all but one race on the way to a second straight Constructors’ World Championship. The European Ryder Cup Team steamrollered the USA 16 ½ to 11 ½ in Rome, starting with a statement 4-0 win in the first foursomes session.

Pep Guardiola said: “We are really proud for our club to have been nominated for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award. Of course, we are nominated because we won so much last season and the credit must go to all our players, all our staff who worked so hard throughout the season to compete in England and across Europe. It is an honour to be included in such an illustrious list of teams who also achieved success at the elite level of sport last year.”

Laureus Sport for Good is the beating heart of the Laureus movement and supports over 300 programmes across the world – since its inception it has positively impacted the lives of over six and a half million young people. Each year, at the discretion of the Laureus Academy, the Laureus Sport for Good Awardgoes to one such programme.

The 2023 shortlist includes: Bola Pra Frente, a programme using sport to develop life skills and empower youth in communities in Rio de Janeiro; Fundación Rafa Nadal, which uses sport and education to empower over 1,000 vulnerable young people in Spain and India; ISF Cambodia, which aims to provide a route out of poverty for young people in the urban slums and rural communities of that nation; Dancing Grounds, based in New Orleans, USA, an inspirational programme that connects dance and creativity with social justice issues.

Justice Desk Africa, which uses sport to empower youth in South Africa to understand and defend their human rights; and finally, Obiettivo Napoli works with over 100 boys and girls facing social exclusion and economic difficulties in Naples, Italy.

The Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award is for the daredevils and risk-takers who we watch from the edge of our seats. In 2023 they included two young skateboarders: 13-year-old Arisa Trew became the first female competitor to land a 720 in competition and won two golds at the X-Games; two years older, Rayssa Leal won street gold at the World Street Skateboarding Championships, the X-Games and the Pan American Games.

Two world champion surfers make the list: Filipe Toledo defended his title after an epic duel with Ethan Ewing; five-time champion Carissa Moore fell to 21-year-old Caroline Marks as a new name emerged at the top of the women’s event. Bethany Shriever won this Award in 2022 and is nominated again after a year in which she regained her world BMX championship crown. Finally, Kirsten Neus5chȁfer became the first woman to win a solo sailing round-the-world race via the three great capes after victory in The Golden Globe Race.

Some of the greatest sports stories centre not on the destination, but the journey. Nominees for Laureus World Comeback of the Year begin with Simone Biles, who returned to gymnastics after a two-year absence undertaken to focus on her mental health and won four golds at the World Championships. Sébastien Haller was diagnosed with testicular cancer shortly after joining Borussia Dortmund but made his debut after six months of treatment and surgery.

Siya Kolisi returned to action just 119 days after sustaining a partial tear of his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and captained the Springboks to victory at the Rugby World Cup. Katarina Johnson-Thompson left the Tokyo Olympics in a wheelchair during the heptathlon competition. Two years later she returned to the global stage to win her second world title.

Markéta Vondroušová watched Wimbledon 2022 as a spectator after injuries had derailed her career, but in 2023 she became the first unseeded woman in the Open Era to win at SW19. When the Denver Nuggets won their first ever NBA Championship, it marked the end of an incredible comeback for Jamal Murray, who had missed 18 months due to a torn ACL.

The shortlist for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award features athletes whose achievements illuminated 2023. Danylo Chufarov won three gold medals and one silver, and set two world records, at the Allianz Para Swimming World Championships in Manchester – 14 years after his last major title, at the 2009 World Para Swimming European Championships. Staying in Manchester, Italy’s Simone Barlaam dominated the S9 category, winning an incredible six golds, which included a world record in the 50m freestyle.

At the Para Athletics World Championships in Paris, Luca Ekler won the 200 and 400 metre titles, plus long jump gold, in T38, and she took silver in the 100 metres. Markus Rehm specialises in the long jump, and with incomparable results. The German won a sixth world title, to go with four Paralympic golds, and claimed a 14th world record in the process.

New Zealand’s Nicole Murray had success on the track and the road, winning two gold and two silver medals at the Road Para Cycling World Cup series, and then winning gold, silver and bronze at the UCI Cycling World Championships. Diede de Groot extended her winning streak in wheelchair tennis to 127 matches, claiming a third successive calendar Grand Slam – a feat unmatched in the history of tennis.

As Madrid prepares for the Laureus World Sports Awards in April, a sporting icon of that city – and Laureus World Sports Academy Member – is eagerly anticipating one of the most significant dates on the global sporting calendar.

Former captain of Real Madrid and Spain, Raúl González Blanco, said: “We are in a special moment for sports around the world and the timing could not be better for the Laureus World Sports Awards to come to my city, Madrid. With these nominations we are not only celebrating the best athletes competing today, but also those who have a claim to be among the greatest of all time.

“That list has to include Simone Biles after her amazing comeback, and Mikaela Shiffrin, who became the most successful World Cup skier of all time. It must also include Novak Djokovic after his latest Grand Slam wins. But there are many other athletes nominated who I believe are on their way to becoming all-time greats. 

“They are all champions, and as elite athletes they share something very special. And that is why the Laureus Awards that mean the most to them, they’re the best of the best across all sports. To be nominated for a Laureus is already something to celebrate!” 

Laureus World Sports Awards 2024 Full List of Nominations

LAUREUS WORLD SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD 

Novak Djokovic (Serbia) Tennis – won three Grand Slams, finishing 2023 with a record-equalling 24  

Mondo Duplantis (Sweden) Athletics – twice improved his own world pole vault record and won a second world title 

Erling Haaland (Norway) Football – his 52 goals spearheaded Manchester City’s treble season 

Noah Lyles (USA) Athletics– won the 100, 200 and 4 x 100 metres relay at the World Athletics Championships 

Lionel Messi (Argentina) Football– a record eighth Ballon d’Or and a record 44th trophy win  

Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Motor Racing – completed a hat-trick of Formula One World Championships  

LAUREUS WORLD SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD 

Aitana Bonmatí  (Spain) Football– won the World Cup, Champions League and Liga F – plus Ballon d’Or Féminin.

Shericka Jackson (Jamaica) Athletics – won 200 metre gold at the World Championships 

Faith Kipyegon (Kenya) Athletics– first woman to win 1,500 and 5,000 metre double at the World Championships 

Sha’Carri Richardson (USA) Athletics– golds in 100 and 4 x 100 metre relay 

Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) Alpine Skiing– became the all-time leader in World Cup wins  

Iga Świątek (Poland) Tennis – won in France and regained World No.1 spot at WTA Finals 

LAUREUS WORLD TEAM OF THE YEAR AWARD 

European Ryder Cup Team – Golf – regained trophy with dominant display in Rome  

Germany Men’s Basketball Team – FIBA World Cup champions after shock wins over USA and Serbia 

Manchester City (UK) Football–treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League 

Oracle Red Bull Racing Formula One Team(Austria) – second consecutive constructors’ title after winning all but one race 

Springboks (South Africa) Rugby – winners of a record fourth World Cup   

Spain Women’s Football Team – World Cup winners after a game-changing tournament in Australia 

LAUREUS WORLD BREAKTHROUGH OF THE YEAR AWARD 

Jude Bellingham (UK) Football – winner of Golden Boy Award for Real Madrid’s new star 

Linda Caicedo (Colombia) Football– played in under-17, under-20 and senior World Cup in the same year 

Coco Gauff (USA) Tennis– maiden Grand Slam title came in US Open, aged 19 

Qin Haiyang (China) Swimming – swept the breaststroke events (50, 100 & 200 metres) at World Championships 

Josh Kerr (UK) Athletics– stunned favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen to win 1,500 metre world title  

Salma Paralluelo (Spain) Football – FIFA Young Player Award winner for best young footballer at the World Cup 

LAUREUS WORLD COMEBACK OF THE YEAR AWARD 

Simone Biles (USA) Gymnastics – after a two-year absence, returned to win four World Championship golds 

Sébastien Haller (Ivory Coast) Football – recovered from cancer diagnosis to return for Borussia Dortmund  

Katarina Johnson-Thompson (UK) Athletics – won heptathlon gold at World Championships after multiple injuries 

Siya Kolisi (South Africa) Rugby – came back from ACL tear to lead his country to World Cup glory Jamal Murray (Canada) Basketball – after 18 months out, won NBA Championship with Denver 

Markéta Vondroušová (Czech Republic) Tennis – won Wimbledon as an unseeded player after a series of injuries 

LAUREUS SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR WITH A DISABILITY AWARD 

Simone Barlaam (Italy) Para Swimming – six golds at the Para Swimming World Championships 

Danylo Chufarov (Ukraine) Para Swimming – two world records, three golds at the Para Swimming World Championships 

Diede de Groot (Netherlands) Wheelchair Tennis – third successive calendar Grand Slam in wheelchair tennis 

Luca Ekler (Hungary) Para Athletics – golds in 200 and 400 metres, plus long jump, at the Para Athletics World Championships 

Nicole Murray (New Zealand) Para Cycling – a champion on the road and the track in 2023 Markus Rehm (Germany) Para Athletics – a sixth world title and a 14th world record for the long jumper  

LAUREUS WORLD ACTION SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD 

Rayssa Leal (Brazil) Skateboarding – street golds at three major championships in 2023 

Caroline Marks (USA) Surfing – first world title for emerging superstar 

Kirsten Neuschȁfer (South Africa) Sailing – first woman to win a solo round-the-world race via three great capes   

Bethany Shriever (UK) BMX – regained her world title in Glasgow 

Filipe Toledo (Brazil) Surfing– defended his world title in California Arisa Trew (Australia) Skateboarding – 13-year-old became first skateboarder to land 720 in competition 

LAUREUS SPORT FOR GOOD AWARD 

Programmes nominated by a specialist selection panel; Laureus Academy select the winner 

Bola Pra Frente (Brazil) Multi-sport x Employability – using sport and education to increase opportunities for youth  

Dancing Grounds (USA) Dancing x Social Integration – advocating for social justice through dance  

Fundación Rafa Nadal (Spain)Tennis x Education – using sport in Mallorca and India to empower young people 

ISF Cambodia Football x Education – breaking the cycle of poverty through the power of football 

Justice Desk Africa (South Africa) Multi-sport x Human Rights – empowering youth to defend their human rights through sport 

Obiettivo Napoli (Italy) Multi-sport x Inclusion – developing social skills in young people experiencing exclusion and hardship. 

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