by Romano Lupi

MONACO. The prestigious Laureus Sports awards will be back to Monaco for the 19th edition. Laureus World Sports Awards is an annual award ceremony honouring individuals and teams from the world of sports along with sporting achievements throughout the year. It was established in 1999 by Laureus Sport for Good Foundation founding patrons Daimler and Richemont and supported by its global partners Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, Nelson Mandela had declared that, “Sport has the power to change the world”. Since that moment, thanks to the support of its partners, Academy Members and Ambassadors, Laureus Sport for Good now supports over 150 projects in more than 40 countries, helping to change young lives for the better. Each year, one example of this work is recognised, through the prestigious Laureus Sport for Good Award. Sports fans around the world also get to play their part by voting for the Laureus Sporting Moment of the Year Award, which highlights the power of sport to inspire change and bring people together.

Considered the ‘Oscars of sports’, the Laureus World Sports Awards celebrate global sporting achievements across the calendar year. The cream of global sport – past, present and future – will gather to honour the greatest sporting achievements of 2018 and celebrate the power of sport to change the world. The Laureus World Sports Awards 2019 are slated to take place at Monaco on Monday 18 February 2019. Sport’s premier global awards ceremony will celebrate the best of 2018 across eight individual and team categories, with the winners collecting a prized Laureus Statuette. The awards support the work of Laureus Sport for Good, which supports over 100 community projects in around 40 countries. In addition to celebrating sporting excellence, the Awards provide a global platform for supporting the Laureus Sport for Good movement, by showcasing the incredible work done to transform young lives around the world. The nominations to honour the sporting achievements of 2018 started in November. The Laureus Sporting Moment Award demonstrates qualities such as fair play, sportsmanship, drama and dedication, and looks beyond the scoreboard or podium. They are emotional and inspirational moments, symbolising the true value of sport and bringing to life the message that sport has the power to change the world. Each month, from March to December, the public has selected their favourite Moment from a shortlist of four videos, chosen with oversight from the sporting legends of the Laureus World Sports Academy. Former India cricket captains Kapil Dev, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar are members of the Laureus Academy, which also has big sporting names like Boris Becker, Martina Navratilova, Sergey Bubka, Luis Figo, Michael Johnson, Sebastian Coe, Vivian Richards, Ian Botham, Steve Waugh among others. Monthly winners will then go head-to-head in a final public vote, with the winner being announced at the 2019 Laureus Awards Ceremony.

The Laureus Sporting Moment Award demonstrates qualities such as fair play, sportsmanship, drama and dedication, and looks beyond the scoreboard or podium. They are emotional and inspirational moments, symbolising the true value of sport and bringing to life the message that sport has the power to change the world.

The Laureus Sporting Moment of the Month campaign for November has been launched with four engaging and emotional Moments, and four themes:

Theme: RespectAn emotional haka (New Zealand, Rugby)

The haka, New Zealand’s traditional Maoiri war dance, is performed by the All Blacks before matches. However, after winning his first cap for his country, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi was treated to a second, emotional haka in the stands. The 23-year-old’s fiancee, father and father-in-law performed the war dance as a nod to his achievement after he made an appearance from the bench in New Zealand’s 46-24 win over Argentina in Nelson in September. Speaking after the match at Trafalgar Park, Tahuriorangi said: “For them to make the trip all the way down from Rotorua, it just makes the debut extra special. It was just an awesome feeling. To get that kind of haka personifies where I come from, a little area where not many people make it out.”

Theme: Overcoming adversity – Hailey’s journey to 30 (USA, Baseball)

Inspirational eight-year-old baseball fan Hailey Dawson was born with Poland syndrome, a genetic condition which restricts the development of a pectoral muscle. As a result, Hailey was born without three fingers on her right hand, but she was determined prove to the world that her disability doesn’t hold her back.With the help of a 3D printed prosthetic hand designed by engineers from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, Hailey embarked on a ‘Journey to 30’ – a bid to throw the first pitch at every Major League ballpark. Starting with the Baltimore Orioles, Hailey had a particular prosthetic hand made for each of the 30 teams she visited, wrapping up her challenge by throwing the first pitch at Angel Stadium, to Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. “It took this community of people to help a then five-year-old build her confidence and self-esteem to where she is now at eight,” said Yong Dawson, Hailey’s mother. “Hailey’s confidence and positive spirit will continue to grow and the possibilities are endless for this kid born with Poland Syndrome.”

Theme: Inspiration – King of the mountains (South Africa, Cycling)

Nicholas Dlamini grew up in Capricorn Park, a Cape Town township with high rates of crime and increasing levels of unemployment. The chances of making it out are slim.

Nicholas Dlamini grew up in Capricorn Park, a Cape Town township

However, aged 12, Nicholas got his first bike, started riding and hasn’t looked back since. He rode for two years in the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka Continental (feeder) team, and in 2018 he stepped up and was recruited for the World Tour team. In January, Nicholas became the first black South African to wear a leader’s jersey at a World Tour race by donning the King of the Mountains jersey at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide. In September, he won the overall King of the Mountains jersey at the Tour of Britain. Nicholas is a role model within his community, and he hopes to pave the way for greater opportunities in his sport for the next generation. ‘One day, I’d like to see all the kids in Capricorn riding bikes,” he said.

Theme: Mental health – Tour de force (UK, Running)

The Tour de France takes 23 days and this year snaked through 2,082 miles, including arduous climbs through the Alps and Pyrenees. It’s a brutal challenge for cyclists, but this year Britain’s Peter Thompson, 34, decided to step up the degree of difficulty by trying to match the feat of American Zoe Romano, who was the first to run the entire route in 2013. Peter succeeded, finishing on July 26, after 68 days of running, three days before the Tour de France peloton arrived on the Champs Elysees in Paris. He raised £20,000 for his mental health awareness programme Marathons for the Mind. To prepare, a year earlier he had run 44 marathons in 44 straight days.

The countdown to vote for the favourite moment for the Laureus Sporting Moment Award ended at 5 pm on 5th January – One of the most voted among the nominees since the end of December 2018 was a set of Manchester City fans. The club saluted two of their biggest fans at their home match against Fulham, with 98-year-old Olga and her 102-year-old sister Vera leading the teams out at the Etihad Stadium. The last few years have been kind to Premier League champions Manchester City but before that, their supporters have certainly experienced the highs and lows of the game. Periods of success were often followed by relegation or financial insecurity, but their support has always been strong. Two supporters who could certainly never be accused of being fair weather fans are sisters Olga and Vera, who have been City season ticket holders since the 1930s. And the club chose to recognise their support in the best way possible at their Premier League match against Fulham. The pair were chosen to be mascots for the game, with Vera and her younger sister Olga leading the teams out arm in arm with City players David Silva and Fernandinho. This small gesture from City led to the sisters receiving worldwide coverage and warmed the hearts of football fans everywhere.


Manchester City’s David Silva (L) holds the hand of 102-year-old mascot Vera Cohen. AFP

Another magic moment of the December nominees of the Laureus Sporting Moment Award, was the Wild Boars football team’s special day out with Manchester United – The Wild Boars football team made global news earlier this year when severe flooding trapped the team and their coach deep in caves in northern Thailand. For 18 days, the boys’ lives hung in the balance as rescuers desperately fought to rescue them and the world held its breath. Throughout their plight, the sporting world came together to send support and best wishes to the boys and their rescuers. As the boys and their coach continue to recover from their ordeal, they have received invitations from all over the world. Having already appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show in the US and had the opportunity to visit the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, the next stop was Manchester. In a special gesture, Manchester United invited the team to visit their training ground where they were met by United’s manager, Jose Mourinho and each member of the team received a special hug from The Special One. The boys went on to watch United play Everton from the VIP seats at Old Trafford. When members of the football family are in trouble, United’s gesture showed that they will always pull together. Finally, with regard to the most enticed Laureus Sport Award, last year, tennis great Roger Federer won the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award for a record fifth time, while Serena Williams won the Sportswoman of the Year recognition for the fourth time.

Stay tuned with us for the Award Ceremony in Monaco report on Monday 18 February 2019!

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