RIO DE JANEIRO:A glittering collection of the world's greatest Olympic and Paralympic stars have been nominated for the 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards, following a ballot by the world's media.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, along with Jessica Ennis, Missy Franklin, Andy Murray, Michael Phelps, Ye Shiwen, Bradley Wiggins and Serena Williams, are among those who received nominations when the shortlist was announced in Rio de Janeiro yesterday.
But they will be challenged by some outstanding performances from non-Olympians, particularly charismatic footballer Lionel Messi, nominated for the fourth- straight time, and Sebastian Vettel, winner of a third-straight Formula One World Championship.
The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the calendar year 2012, are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners, as voted by the Laureus World Sports Academy - the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time - will be unveiled at a globally televised awards ceremony staged in Rio de Janeiro on March 11.
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports more than 100 community sports projects around the world. Since its inception, Laureus has raised more than £55 million for projects which have improved the lives of more than one and a half million young people.
When the winners are revealed in Rio in March, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt could be celebrating his third Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, after he repeated his success in Beijing by winning gold medals in all three sprint events in London - 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay.
With the exception of Lindsey Vonn, who won her fourth overall skiing World Cup in five years, the nominations for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award are all dominated by the Olympics. Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the fastest woman on earth after successfully defending her 100m Olympic title, and Britain's Jessica Ennis, who won the heptathlon gold in front of an ecstatic home crowd, are also among the six nominees.
Three Americans are shortlisted: Allyson Felix, Franklin, who at age 17 won four gold medals and a bronze, and Serena Williams, who enjoyed one of her greatest years, winning Wimbledon, the US Open and Olympic gold medals in the singles and doubles, with her sister Venus.