India' star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has been shortlisted for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award. In his Olympics debut, the 23-year-old athlete won India's first-ever gold medal in the track and field. He destroyed a star-studded field in the men's javelin throw final at Tokyo Games with a throw of 87.58 metres in his second attempt to claim the top honours. (More Sports News)
Now, he will vie against some of the finest in world sports for a prestigious award, for which no other Indian has been nominated before. He however is the third Indian to be nominated for a Laureus Award after wrestler Vinesh Phogat, who was shortlisted for the Comeback of the Year Award in 2019 and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who won the Sporting Moment Award 2000-2020.
"I’m delighted to be nominated for this Laureus Award and it's a great honour for me to be recognised in the wider sporting world for what I achieved in Tokyo," Chopra said.
Chopra is currently ranked second in the world and will defend both the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games titles in a busy 2022. He will also chase a maiden World Championships medal later in the year.
"From being a kid in a small village in rural India who only took up sport to get fit, to standing on top of an Olympic podium, it’s been quite an eventful journey so far. I feel privileged to be able to represent my country and win India medals at the global stage, and now to have this recognition from Laureus and be considered alongside such exceptional athletes is a really special feeling," he added.
And Chopra's competitors for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award are:
- Britain's Emma Raducanu, who became a global tennis sensation when she won the US Open at the age of 18;
- Russia's Daniil Medvedev, who won his first Grand Slam at the US Open;
- Spain's football Pedri. The 19-year-old Barcelona starlet was also voted the best young player at the Ballon d'Or;
- Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas, who broke the 26-year-old triple jump world record;
- Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus, aged 20, who twice beat champion Katie Ledecky at 200 and 400m in Tokyo.
A panel of more than 1,300 of the leading sports journalists and broadcasters in the world have selected the nominees in each of seven categories for this year’s Laureus World Sports Awards. The winners will be revealed in April, following a vote by the Laureus World Sports Academy, a jury made up of 71 legends.
Meanwhile, the battle for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award will be one of the most competitive ever. Tom Brady, NFL’s greatest quarterback, is nominated along with Bayern Munich’s prolific goalscorer Robert Lewandowski, new Formula One world champion Max Verstappen, tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic, and two of the greatest Olympians: swimmer Caeleb Dressel, who won five gold medals in Tokyo, and Eliud Kipchoge, who won back-to-back marathon gold medals.
In the women's section, several historic Olympic performances dominate nomination. Elaine Thompson-Herah matched fellow Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt with gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4x100 metres relay; Allyson Felix passed Carl Lewis as the most decorated track and field US Olympian; Australian swimmer Emma McKeon’s four gold and three bronze tied the record for the most medals ever won by a woman in a single Olympic Games; and American swimmer Katie Ledecky won two more gold and two silver medals.
The Italy men’s football team are among the frontrunners for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award after their victory in Euro 2020. There are two other football nominees: the Argentina men’s football team, including Lionel Messi, who won the Copa America; and FC Barcelona women’s football team, who won their first UEFA Champions League. They are joined by the China Olympic diving team, who won gold medals in seven of the eight events, the Milwaukee Bucks, inspired by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who ended their 50-year wait for a second NBA championship, and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team which won a record eighth consecutive Constructors’ World Championship.
The Nominees for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year include several sporting giants: the indomitable gymnast Simone Biles, who showed her courage and determination to come back to win a bronze medal on the beam in Tokyo; Mark Cavendish, who fought back from mental and physical health problems to equal Eddie Merckx’s record of 34 Tour de France stage wins, and eight-time MotoGP world champion Marc Márquez, who celebrated his first Grand Prix win for 581 days after a broken arm. Sky Brown, aged 13, recovered from a fractured skull to win a skateboarding bronze medal in Tokyo.
Here's the full list of nominees:
LAUREUS WORLD SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
Tom Brady (USA) American Football – the greatest NFL quarterback, he won a record seventh Super Bowl;
Novak Djokovic (Serbia) Tennis - won three Grand Slams in 2021 to take his total of career wins to 20;
Caeleb Dressel (USA) Swimming - outstanding male swimmer in Tokyo with five Olympic gold medals;
Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) Athletics – became the third person in history to win back-to-back Olympic marathons;
Robert Lewandowski (Poland) Football - surpassed Gerd Muller’s record of 40 goals in a season for Bayern;
Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Motor Racing - won his first Formula One World Championship in 2021.
LAUREUS WORLD SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
Ashleigh Barty (Australia) Tennis – world No.1, won Wimbledon, her second career Grand Slam;
Allyson Felix (USA) Athletics - surpassed Carl Lewis as the most decorated track and field US Olympian;
Katie Ledecky (USA) Swimming - won 800 and 1,500 metres freestyle golds in Tokyo, plus two silver medals;
Emma McKeon (Australia) Swimming – won four gold and three bronze in Tokyo, the most by an individual;
Alexia Putellas (Spain) Football – Barcelona captain; won Ballon d’Or and UEFA Women's Player of Year;
Elaine Thompson-Herah (Jamaica) Athletics – won Olympic 100 and 200 metres and 4x100m relay.
LAUREUS WORLD TEAM OF THE YEAR AWARD
Argentina Men’s Football Team - won Copa America; Lionel Messi’s first international trophy, at age of 34;
Barcelona Women’s Football Team (Spain) - won first Champions League, beating English club Chelsea 4-0;
China Olympic Diving Team – won gold medals in seven of the eight events staged in the pool in Tokyo;
Italy Men’s Football Team – under Roberto Mancini won European Championship for the first time since 1968;
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team (Germany) – won a record eighth Constructors Championship;
Milwaukee Bucks (USA) Basketball – inspired by Giannis Antetokounmpo, won a second NBA championship.
LAUREUS WORLD BREAKTHROUGH OF THE YEAR AWARD
Neeraj Chopra (India) Athletics – won javelin to become India’s first winner of an Olympic athletics gold;
Daniil Medvedev (Russia) Tennis – won his first-ever Grand Slam, dropping only one set in the US Open;
Pedri (Spain) Football – 19, played 53 times in 2020/21 for Barcelona, and every game for Spain in Euro 2020;
Emma Raducanu (UK) Tennis - became a global sensation when she won the US Open at the age of 18;
Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela) Athletics – broke the 26-year-old world record to win triple jump gold in Tokyo;
Ariarne Titmus (Australia) Swimming – aged 20, beat champion Katie Ledecky at 200 and 400m in Tokyo.
LAUREUS WORLD COMEBACK OF THE YEAR AWARD
Simone Biles (USA) Gymnastics – after withdrawing in Tokyo, she came back to win bronze in the beam;
Sky Brown (UK) Skateboarding – aged 13, recovered from a fractured skull to win a bronze medal in Tokyo;
Mark Cavendish (UK) Cycling - fought back from depression to win second Tour de France sprint title;
Tom Daley (UK) Diving – had knee surgery in June, but won 10 metres synchronised gold in Tokyo;
Marc Márquez (Spain) Motor Cycling – first win in 581 days, after recovering from broken arm at the start of 2020;
Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) Cycling – won Olympic time trial days after missing gold in the road race.
LAUREUS SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR WITH A DISABILITY AWARD
Diede De Groot (Netherlands) Wheelchair Tennis - the first player to complete the calendar-year Golden Slam;
Marcel Hug (Switz) Wheelchair Athletics – won Paralympic gold medals in 800, 1,500, 5,000m and marathon;
Shingo Kunieda (Japan) Wheelchair Tennis - host-nation hero, won fourth Paralympic gold of his career;
Jetze Plat (Netherlands) Para-cycling / Para Triathlon – won three Paralympic gold medals in two sports;
Susana Rodríguez (Spain) Para Triathlon – won gold in Tokyo in triathlon PTVI, her first Paralympic medal;
Sarah Storey (UK) Para-cycling - won three golds from three events to take her career total to 17.
LAUREUS WORLD ACTION SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD
Ítalo Ferreira (Brazil) Surfing – in Tokyo became the first-ever surfing Olympic gold medal winner;
Alberto Ginés (Spain) Climbing – aged 18, scaled 15-metre wall in 6.42 seconds to win speed climbing gold;
Yuto Horigome (Japan) Skateboarding - won first-ever skateboarding Olympic gold to the delight of the host nation;
Carissa Moore (USA) Surfing – won first-ever women’s Olympic surfing gold, then added her fifth world title;
Momiji Nishiya (Japan) Skateboarding – at 13, won first-ever Olympic gold medal in women's street event;
Bethany Shriever (UK) BMX – the first woman to win both Olympic and World Championship gold in the same year
LAUREUS SPORT FOR GOOD AWARD
Programmes nominated by a specialist selection panel; Laureus Academy select the winner;
Ich Wil Da Rauf! (Germany) Climbing – disabled and non-disabled share challenge of the climbing wall;
Juca pe Cagna (Italy) Multi-sport – provides safe places to play away from the influence of crime;
Kick 4 Life (Lesotho) Football – supports young people through health education and HIV testing;
Lost Boyz Inc (USA) Baseball – uses baseball in Chicago to decrease violence and improve social conditions;
Monkey Magic (Japan) Climbing - promotes free climbing for those with visual impairment.