Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt – the fastest man on Earth – is the winner of the 2009 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, after his sensational performance in the Beijing Olympics.
Bolt receives the world’s most prestigious sports Award from Laureus Academy members Michael Johnson and Edwin Moses.
‘I’m delighted, it’s an an honour to succeed such greats as Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher, Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods’ – says Usain Bolt
In Beijing, Bolt became the first man in history to win the 100 metres (9.69secs), 200 metres (19.30secs) and 4×100 metres relay gold medals (37.10secs) in world record times in the same Olympiad. Bolt’s 200 metres time broke the long-standing world record of 19.32secs set by Laureus World Sports Academy member Michael Johnson in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Bolt, 22, received the world’s most prestigious sports Award from Michael Johnson and Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses on the eve of the Festival of Excellence track and field meet in Toronto, Canada.
After receiving the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, Bolt performed his trademark celebration, a lightning-like gesture with his arms, and said: ‘I would like to thank everyone who voted for me. It is an honour.’
Laureus World Sports Academy member Michael Johnson said: ‘Usain’s 100 metres in Beijing was the greatest sprinting performance I have ever seen, no doubt about it. His arrival on the scene over the last two years has been explosive and he thoroughly deserves to be Laureus World Sportsman of the Year.’
‘Every now and then comes an athlete for the times and I believe Usain Bolt is that athlete. It happened for me in 1996, it happened with Carl Lewis in 1984 and Jesse Owens in 1936 and now it is happening for Usain. He doesn’t just want to win races and medals, he wants to test the limits of human ability. I am happy for him and I congratulate him on breaking my 200 metres world record.’
‘I can’t say he’s the greatest sprinter I’ve ever seen – yet. For him to be the greatest, he’ll have to win gold at another Olympics or a World Championship, show some consistency and longevity. But there’s no reason for me to think he can’t do it,’ added Johnson.
Bolt is in Canada to compete in the 100 metres race at the Festival of Excellence, a world-class track and field meeting to be held at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre on June 11.
The other nominees for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award were Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals in Beijing, Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, who won the Olympic gold medal, plus his fourth straight French Open title and his first Wimbledon crown, motor sport racers Lewis Hamilton and Valentino Rossi and Portugal and Manchester United footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Laureus World Sports Awards are the only global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury – the 46 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, a collection of the world’s greatest sportsmen and women. The living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today. The Laureus World Sports Awards recognise sporting achievement during the period January 1, 2008 – December 31, 2008.
In Rome last week, at the first Awards event, Russian pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva received the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award from Laureus Academy members Sir Bobby Charlton, Marcel Desailly and Alberto Tomba.
The winners of this year’s other Laureus World Sports Awards will receive their Awards during a series of presentations to be made during June. Because of the current economic situation Laureus and its partners have decided to forego the usual spring Awards Ceremony. The key focus for Laureus during 2009 will be to support the funding and activities of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. The Laureus Foundation addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception Laureus has raised €20 million for projects which have helped improve the lives of more than one million young people.