It was a glittering evening of sporting celebration, as the greatest sports men and women of the past year were honored at Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco on February 14th.
The Awards were full of highlights, kicked off by Brazilian football legend Cafu by honoring the victims of the Chapecoense plane crash last year by wearing the club’s shirt to a press conference. In the Ceremony, the audience participated in a rendition of the famous Icelandic thunderclap, but it was a golden sporting selfie which stole the show. Taken by Sportsman of the Year Usain Bolt, the image included every winner from the ceremony, became the iconic image of the event as it circulated on social media channels around the world. Bolt showed his support for the Sneakers for Good campaign by announcing that he will auction off his black and white sneakers worn at the event, raising funds for Laureus Sport for Good and Sal’s shoes, who collect pairs of shoes and distribute them to those in need around the world. As well as Bolt, Nico Rosberg, Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and other prestigious guests got involved and laced up their sneakers.
Laureus Academy Member Michael Johnson wore one bright red and one navy blue sneaker, which are set to be auctioned, Michael Johnson explained: “This is an incredible movement, taking the shoes we are wearing with our tuxedos and helping young people.”
Host Hugh Grant entertained throughout with his wit, ensuring the audience were welcomed in traditionally inimitable fashion, while world famous singer and former member of Boyzone, Ronan Keating, entertained the audience with a performance of “Let me love you”.
Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco quoted her South African compatriot, Laureus Patron Nelson Mandela, and presented the Laureus Sport for Good Award to ‘Waves for Change’ which uses surfing to help young people.
HSH Princess Charlene said: “Sport has given me purpose and Waves for Change share the same values as my Foundation, teaching children to swim and giving them purpose.”
Laureus World Sports Academy Member Emerson Fittipaldi awarded World Breakthrough of the Year Award to F1 champion Nico Rosberg, who recalled his childhood living in Monaco and watching his father, who won the championship 34 years ago.
Clutching the Laureus Statuette, he had a message of resilience for young people around the world: “If you keep believing and keep fighting, eventually you will be rewarded. I remember I was 14 years old standing on the balcony with the TV on watching the Awards, and seeing Nelson Mandela on TV standing on this stage, and ever since, it’s been my dream to stand up here, myself, one day.”
Wearing a traditional Scottish kilt, F1 driver David Coulthard spoke with members of the Refugee Olympic Team who competed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games while Chef de Mission and Laureus Academy Member Tegla Loroupe explained how much still needs to be done to help those in disadvantaged situations.
There were two Awards for British sport: the world’s greatest downhill mountain biker Rachel Atherton won the Action Sportsperson of the Year, while Leicester City won a special Laureus Spirit of Sport Award to mark their remarkable achievement in winning English football’s Premier League as 5,000-1 outsiders.
Another historic team performance was Chicago Cubs’ first Major League Baseball World Series victory for 108 years. This feat won them the Laureus Team of the Year Award.
For the first time ever, sports fans around the world voted for the new Best Sporting Moment of the Year Award. The Award, which brings to life the true power and magic of sport, looked beyond the headlines and captured the fair play, emotion and sportsmanship of sport in 2016. It was presented to the Barcelona Under-12 Team for the humanity and warmth they showed in consoling a Japanese team who they had beaten.
The Awards concluded with HSHs Prince Albert and Princess Charlene with all the winners doing the Lightning Bolt with Olympic Champion Usain Bolt.
After the event, Nusret Gökçe, the internet sensation otherwise known as ‘Salt Bae’, rounded off the evening by ensuring that the food at the post-event dinner was perfectly seasoned. It was a sprinkle of sporting success on an evening, which both celebrated the achievements of athletes in 2016, but also celebrated the power of sport and its ability to overcome discrimination and disadvantage around the world.