Following a stellar past year for British women’s sport, three young female athletes have been crowned winners at the 2022 Laureus World Sports Awards.
In a digital ceremony hosted from Seville, teenage tennis sensation Emma Raducanu, skateboard star Sky Brown and BMX racer Bethany Shriever saw their incredible performances in 2021 recognised by the Laureus World Sports Academy.
Raducanu’s memorable US Open win earned her the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award, while Brown’s bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics saw her pick up the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award; the fact that Shriever ended 2021 as Olympic and World Champion was enough to burn off the competition and see her take the Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year Award.
The Awards recognise the greatest sporting achievements of 2021 and few were more thrilling than the US Open victory of global tennis sensation Raducanu.
The teenager’s Laureus Award follows her incredible win at Flushing Meadows where she became the first qualifier in tennis history to win a Grand Slam.
After being presented with the Laureus Statuette, the British teenager received a message by video link from tennis star and Laureus Academy Member Li Na, who is one of her role models.
“Thank you so much Li Na. You have been a great inspiration to me all my career. It’s been a great year for me. Thank you to all the Laureus Academy Members for voting for me. I really want to congratulate all the other Nominees too.”Emma Raducanu
Skateboard star Sky Brown’s Laureus World Comeback of the Year Winner comes after a remarkable return to her sport following a life-threatening injury.
Brown suffered a skull fracture when she landed headfirst from a half-pipe in training in June 2020. She was unresponsive on reaching hospital and at the time her father said she was lucky to be alive, but she 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.
Sky said: “Thank you so much to the Laureus Academy for voting for me. This is insane. I had some ups and downs, falling, having a pretty bad accident and getting back up. I feel like the falling just pushed me [to succeed]. I’m so thankful for everything.”
Completing a hat-trick of British women to receive an award is Bethany Shriever. The Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year Award comes after she won 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 crowdfunding ahead of Tokyo to finance her own qualification campaign after UK Sport cut its support.
Bethany, who received her award from six-time Olympic cycling gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy, said: “Honestly, I just thought that being nominated was special enough but to win it, wow, what an absolute honour.
I just want to say a massive, massive thank you to the Laureus Academy for voting for me. I’m so, so proud. To be awarded something so prestigious means so much to me.”
Laureus Academy Member Jessica Ennis-Hill, who won the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award in 2012 following her scintillating performance at the London Olympics, said: “The successes of Emma, Sky and Bethany last year are truly an inspiration to British women of all ages and they send a particularly important message to young girls in this country – and all over the world – that there need not be the kind of obstacle to a successful career in sport that might once have stood in their way.
But their stories are about much more than mere achievement on a global stage: each has experienced the unbridled joy that sport can bring, of winning with a smile on your face and of putting one on the faces of others. As a member of the Laureus Academy, I am delighted that their achievements have been recognised.”
An illustrious group of sports stars have also been honoured by the Laureus World Sports Academy including Formula One world champion Max Verstappen and Jamaican Olympic sprint queen Elaine Thompson-Herah, who have been named Laureus World Sportsman and Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year.
Verstappen, who secured his first World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December, said: “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 means a lot to be recognised for this Award, one of the highest ones in the world.”
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, has been described as the female Usain Bolt.
She said: “I know Usain has won Laureus Awards before, so to bring this trophy back home to the Caribbean, also in Jamaica, is very special.”
One of the highlights of 2021 was the European Championship victory by the Italian Men’s Football Team who win their second Laureus Team of the Year Award as a result.
Swiss wheelchair racer Marcel Hug is 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.
The Laureus World Sports Academy also made special presentations to three giants of sport: Tom Brady, seven-time winner of the Super Bowl, is honoured with the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award; Robert Lewandowski receives the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award for achievements including breaking Gerd Muller’s long-standing goalscoring record in the Bundesliga; and hugely popular motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi is presented with the Laureus Sporting Icon Award, after retiring in November at the end of a 25-year career.
The Real Madrid Foundation has been honoured with the Laureus Sport for Good Society Award while Chicago youth baseball programme Lost Boyz Inc. picked up The Laureus Sport for Good Award.
Gerald Asamoah and the Black Eagles win The Laureus Athlete Advocate of the Year Award. 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.
The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier honours event on the international sporting calendar. The Winners are selected in a secret ballot by the ultimate sports jury – the 71 Members of the Laureus World Sports Academy: the living legends of sport honouring the greatest athletes of today.
The names of the winners were revealed in Seville in a digital Awards Show, hosted by Laureus Academy Member Lindsey Vonn, the great women’s skier.
The full list of Winners:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award: Max Verstappen
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award: Elaine Thompson-Herah
Laureus World Team of the Year Award: Italy Men’s Football Team
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award: Emma Raducanu
Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award: Sky Brown
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award: Marcel Hug
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award: Bethany Shriever
Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award: Tom Brady
Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award: Robert Lewandowski
Laureus Sporting Icon Award: Valentino Rossi
Laureus Sport for Good Award: Lost Boyz Inc.
Laureus Sport for Good Society Award: Real Madrid Foundation
Laureus Athlete Advocate of the Year Award: Gerald Asamoah and the Black Eagles
Click here for full biographies of the Winners and list of Nominees.