Sportsman Of The Year Award: Well Deserved by Novak Djokovic

The 2019 Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award, which goes to the sportsman who best demonstrates supreme athletic performance and achievement, has gone to tennis great Novak Djokovic.  The Sportswoman of the Year Award went to American gymnast Simone Biles.

The awards were created by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, a global organisation involved in more than 150 charity projects. One of the projects cleans the slums of the poorest parts of Nairobi, where 14,000 youngsters play in 90 football leagues.

There are several awards besides Sportsman of the Year, including Team of the Year, Comeback of the Year, Breakthrough of the Year, Action Sportsperson of the Year, Sportsperson of the Year with Disability and Best Sporting Moment of the Year.

In his acceptance speech, Novak said “I live by the philosophy that expect nothing, then you will get everything.”  The world number 1 who has now won 3 Grand Slams in a row and overall 15 so far also said, “I did think about leaving tennis, I did not find myself in a good balance. It took me several months to find that purpose and meaning again. This award reflects and symbolises this journey. Reflecting on the journey it seems like a fairytale story.”

For the award, Novak edged out great competition in the form of basketball legend, Lebron James, explosive footballer Mbappe and runner Kipchoge in the sportsman category to win his fourth award, thereby equalling the peerless Usain Bolt. Only Swiss tennis maestro Federer has more with five and along with a Comeback Award means he has six Laureus awards overall – the most ever for any sportsperson.

Federer’s awards came from 2005-08 and 2018 and he also won the Comeback Award in 2018. Usain Bol’s four awards were in 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2017, while Novak’s three earlier awards were in 2012, 2015 and 2016.  This year was his fourth and Simone Biles too won her fourth award this year

Two-time winners include Tiger Woods – who won the first two awards, in 2000 and 2001 – and racing great Michael Schumacher who took it out 2002 and 2004. This year, Tiger Woods won the Comeback of the Year Award, which is his third overall. So also tennis great Rafael Nadal has three awards, Breakthrough of the Year in 2006, Sportsman of the Year in 2011 and Comeback of the Year in 2014. Two of his best years were 2009 and 2010 but Usain Bolt pipped him to the Sportsman Award that year.

Other award winners this year were Naomi Osaka (Breakthrough of the Year), French football team (Team of the Year), Henrieta Farkkasova (Skiing) (Sportsperson of the Year with Disability), Chloe Kim (Snowboarding) (Action Sportsperson of the Year), Lindsey Vonn (Alpine Skiing) (Spirit of the Sport Award) and Arsene Wenger (Football) (Lifetime Achievement Award). The Laureus Sporting Moment of the Year went to 69 year Chinese double amputee Xia Boyu who climbed Mount Everest.

The world’s leading sports editors, writers, broadcasters and select sporting legends vote on the awards in a secret ballot. This goes a long way in ensuring that the awards receive the legitimacy and respect they deserve.

For instance, the cricketers who are the voters are all legends such as Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Rahul Dravid, Steve Waugh and Sachin Tendulkar. Can there be better voters?

Congrats Novak Djokovic, it’s now four and counting.

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