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Springboks, Hamilton and Messi win big at Laureus awards

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17th February, 2020
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Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi have been declared joint winners of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year gong, with voting tied for the first time in the awards’ 20-year history.

Mercedes driver Hamilton won his sixth world championship in 2019, with 11 race wins and 17 podium finishes, while Messi was crowned the world’s best player for a record sixth time when he won the Ballon d’Or.

Hamilton thanked the greats before him, saying: “I’ve been inspired by so many of you.”

“It’s all of our responsibility to use our platform for really pushing for gender equality, inclusivity and making sure that we are engaging and trying to represent where the world is today.”

Messi did not travel to Berlin for the prize and sent a message of thanks by video.

He tweeted: “I am honoured to be the first to win this award being a sportsperson coming from a team sport.”

American gymnast Simone Biles, who became the most decorated gymnast in world championship history when she won her 25th medal last year, won her third Sportswoman of the Year gong after winning the award in 2017 and 2019.

The South African rugby team, which won the World Cup in Japan last year for the third time in history, were crowned the Team of the Year, beating European soccer champions Liverpool and women’s soccer World Cup winners United States.

German NBA star Dirk Nowitzki, who retired last year after a 21-year career in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks, was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to basketball.

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German Formula Three driver Sophia Floersch, who fractured her spine in an aerial crash at the Macau Grand Prix in November 2018 that required an 11-hour surgery to fix, won the Comeback of the Year after getting back into the cockpit last year.

Former Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, the highest run scorer of all time in international cricket, had the support of a cricket-crazy nation to win a fan vote for the award for the best Sporting Moment from the last two decades.

In his sixth and final one-day international World Cup in 2011, Tendulkar finally got his hands on the title as India won on home soil and he was carried on his team mates’ shoulders for a lap of honour.

The awards were held at a glittering ceremony in Berlin.

List of winners:

Sportsman of the Year: Lewis Hamilton and Lionel Messi

Sportswoman of the Year: Simone Biles

Team of the Year: South Africa Men’s Rugby Team

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Breakthrough of the Year: Egan Bernal

Comeback of the Year: Sophia Floersch

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Oksana Masters

Action Sportsperson of the Year: Chloe Kim

Best Sporting Moment: ‘Carried on the shoulders of a nation’ – Sachin Tendulkar

Lifetime Achievement Award: Dirk Nowitzki

Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award: Spanish Basketball Federation

Laureus Sport for Good Award: South Bronx United

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© AAP