Bolt in line for top award
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
World 200-metre champion Usain Bolt has been nominated for the Laureus World Sports Award 2011, which is awarded annually to sportspersons who have been outstanding during the previous year. The winner will be announced on February 6, 2012.
This year, however, Bolt, a two-time winner of the award, will have his work cut out for him as he is among the six outstanding nominees that include multiple tennis champion Novak Djokovic, who won three Grand Slam tournaments this year - the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open; Lionel Messi, who scored 53 goals for Spanish champions Barcelona Football Club;and Dirk Nowitzki of the NBA champions Dallas Mavericks. Nowitzki is the first European to be named MVP for the NBA finals. The list of nominees is completed by two-time Formula One champion Sebastien Vettel, who has two F1 titles at age 24, and Tour de France winner Cadel Evans.
Bolt's training partner Yohan Blake, the 100-metre world champion and the second-fastest man in history over the 200 metres, is up for the Breakthrough Award.
By his usual lofty standards, Bolt's 2011 season was solid if not spectacular. Unbeaten over the 200 metres, Bolt defended his world title in Daegu, South Korea, winning in a time of 19.40 seconds. Bolt also anchored the Jamaican sprint relay team to a new world record of 37.04 seconds to end the championships. It was the only world record at the championships. "The Laureus Award is a prestigious international award, which I am pleased to be associated with. This nomination is special because of the year I have had, and to come out unbeaten was even more rewarding. To be recognised for it is even more incredible," Bolt said in response to news of the nomination.
Blake became the youngest man to ever win a 100-metre world title when he sped to victory in Daegu, South Korea, following Bolt's disqualification for a false start. He was also a member of the sprint relay team that broke the world record to bring the curtain down on the World Championships.
Blake then went on to record identical 9.82 seconds clocking, winning the short sprint in Zurich and Berlin before ending his season with a spectacular 19.26 run over the 200 metres in Brussels. Only Bolt (19.19s) has run faster.
"I just keep giving thanks for all this recognition. I am humbled and extremely grateful that all my hard work is being recognised, and it gives me great incentive to try even harder and to do even better," Blake said.
Blake's agent, Cubie Seegobin, added: "We are very proud of the fact that Yohan is being considered for all of these prestigious awards."
The Laureus World Sports Awards were established in 1999 by founding patrons Daimler and Richemont, and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz, IWC Schaffhausen and Vodafone. The first gala was held on May 25, 2000 in Monte Carlo.
The selection process has two stages. First, a selection panel of the world's leading sports editors, writers and broadcasters from over 80 countries votes to create a shortlist of six nominations in each category. The voting process is monitored by independent auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy then vote by secret ballot to select the award winners.