There was a warm welcome from the audience in the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro for two outstanding Olympians who received special Laureus Awards.
Legendary swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with a career total of 22 medals, including 18 gold medals, eight of which he won in one Olympiad in Beijing, was presented with a new award, the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award.
And Laureus World Sports Academy Member Sebastian Coe, the Chairman of the organizing committee of the highly successful London Olympic and Paralympic Games, received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Laureus World Team of the Year Award was presented to the European Ryder Cup Team after its thrilling golf victory against the United States at Medinah.
Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner, who became the first human to go through the sound barrier when he made the highest ever freefall from 39 km (24 miles) over New Mexico in October, received the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award.
The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognize sporting achievement during 2012, were announced at the awards ceremony at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, which was hosted by Hollywood stars Morgan Freeman and Eva Longoria.
The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy present were: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Marcel Desailly, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Hakkinen, Tony Hawk, Mike Horn, Michael Johnson, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Edwin Moses, Nawal El Moutawakel, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Alexey Nemov, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Steve Redgrave, Mark Spitz, Daley Thompson and Steve Waugh.
Other sports guests included: Filip Adamski, Sarah Attar, Felix Baumgartner, Johanna Benson, Jamie Bestwick, Ole Bischof, Stefan Blöcher, Annabelle Bond, Bjorn Borg, Martin Braxenthaler, Bob Burnquist, Chad Le Clos, Deco, Daniel Dias, Ding Ning, Jessica Ennis, Alejandra Garcia Flood, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jan Frodeno, Ruud Gullit, Kirani James, Jorginho, Christa Kinshofer, Vitali Klitschko, Philip Köster, Andreas Kuffner, Nia Künzer, Brian Lara, Jens Lehmann, Lin Dan, Alan Fonteles Oliveira, Victoria Pendleton, Michael Phelps, Felix Sanchez, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Axel Schulz, John Smit, Michael Teuber, Ye Shiwen and Zhang Jike.
Among other guests present were Sérgio Cabral, governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, mayor of Rio de Janeiro, and André Lazaroni, state secretary of sport and leisure of Rio de Janeiro, and stars of stage and screen included Morena Baccarin, Maggie Cheung, Sabine Christiansen, Bebel Gilberto and Kyle MacLachlan.
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports more than 140 community sports projects in 34 countries around the world, including three in Rio de Janeiro. Since its inception, Laureus has raised EUR 60 million for projects that have improved the lives of more than one and a half million young people.
The Awards were announced in seven categories. The winners were:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Usain Bolt
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Jessica Ennis
Laureus World Team of the Year: European Ryder Cup Team
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Andy Murray
Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Felix Sanchez
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Daniel Dias
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Felix Baumgartner
There were two additional awards: The Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Sebastian Coe, chairman of the organizing committee of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the newly created Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award was presented to Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time.
For full biographies of winners and nominees, go to www.laureus.com.
About Laureus USA
Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA (www.laureususa.com) is a registered 501(c)(3) public charity in the United States. It is part of the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation global network, which includes the global Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, the Laureus World Sports Academy, and the Laureus World Sports Awards. Collectively, the Laueus global network harnesses the power of sport to promote social change and celebrate sporting excellence. Laureus champions the universal power of sport to bring people together as a force for good, pursuit of excellence, overcoming challenges, celebrating achievement, and winning against the odds.
The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier 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, the living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today. The Awards are presented at an annual Awards Ceremony, attended by global figures from sport and entertainment, which is broadcast to 120 countries and territories.
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Ruchika Jain/Adrianne Psarras
Graham & Associates, Inc.
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