F1 World Champion Max Verstappen Receives Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, Elaine Thompson-Herah Is Sportswoman Of The Year
Max Verstappen secured his first World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December after a tense duel with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton
Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen has been named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year 2022 at a digital ceremony hosted from Seville on Monday. Jamaican Olympic sprint queen Elaine Thompson-Herah, has received the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award.
Red Bull Racing's Verstappen, who secured his first World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December after a tense duel with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, said: “I was very happy, of course, but it was a lot of hard work and years of preparation. I'm incredibly proud. Since I was a little kid I dreamt of being on the top step and winning the championship. I said to my dad [Former Formula One driver Jos Verstappen] ‘We did it, this is what we worked for all these years and now we are here, the two of us, all the memories, all the years of travelling all over Europe, going for that one goal and we achieved it'.
“I'm the first Dutch driver to win the World Championship, so the reaction back in Holland was amazing from all the newspapers and fans, it's something we'll never forget. It means a lot to be recognised for this Award, one of the highest ones in the world, so I'm incredibly happy.”
Thompson-Herah, who defended her 100 and 200 metres Olympic titles in Tokyo, and also won a third gold in the 4 x 100m relay, is happy that like her famous compatriot Usain Bolt, she too has received the prestigious award. “I know Usain has won Laureus Awards before, so to bring this trophy back home to the Caribbean, also in Jamaica, is very special.
“I have watched that [100 metres] race about a thousand times now. I would say I am very, very proud, but I cannot dwell on the past. Even though it's very special, it's memories. I cannot just sit and say ‘OK, I'm a double Olympic champion, I'm a five-time Olympic gold medallist. I have to continue working because my motivation is to be even better. I told myself that I want to be the greatest female sprinter, so I am just going to focus on what the future holds for me.”
Among the other major winners were the European Championship winners Italian men's football team (Laureus Team of the Year Award) and Emma Raducanu, who won the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award following her US Open victory at the age of 18.
The Laureus World Sports Academy also made special presentations to three giants of sport: Tom Brady, seven-time winner of the Super Bowl, who was honoured with the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award while Robert Lewandowski received the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award for achievements including breaking Gerd Muller's long-standing goal-scoring record in the Bundesliga; and hugely popular motor cycle racer Valentino Rossi was presented with the Laureus Sporting Icon Award, after retiring in November at the end of a 25-year career.
Laureus World Comeback of the Year Winner went to skateboard star Sky Brown, who suffered a skull fracture when she landed headfirst from a half-pipe in training in June 2020. She was unresponsive when she arrived at hospital, but recovered fully and was able to compete in the Olympics. Aged 13 years and 28 days, she finished third in the park final to win a bronze medal, making her Britain's youngest ever Olympic medallist.
Swiss wheelchair racer Marcel Hug was named Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for the second time after winning four gold medals in the Tokyo Paralympic Games in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000 metres and marathon; he also set a world record in the 1,500m and a Paralympic record in the 5,000m. In a stunning 2021, Marcel also won the Berlin, New York and Boston marathons.
Britain's Bethany Shriever received the Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year after winning both Olympic and World Championship BMX gold medals in the same year. In Tokyo, she had to hold off two-time Olympic champion Mariana Pajon to win the gold medal. The 22-year-old teaching assistant had to raise £50,000 in crowd-funding ahead of Tokyo to finance her own qualification campaign after UK Sport cut its support.
The Laureus Athlete Advocate of the Year Award went to Gerald Asamoah and the Black Eagles. Schalke footballer Asamoah, who is a leading campaigner in the fight against racism, was among several German footballers who appeared in the 2021 documentary ‘Schwarze Adler' [Black Eagles] which features the experiences of black players in German football.