Spain’s Fernando Alonso, Rafael Nadal and FC Barcelona have been nominated for the 2006 Laureus World Sports Awards. FC Barcelona players Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi have also received nominations, a recognition of the current strength of Spanish sport.
The Laureus World Sports Awards is the only global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The ultimate sports jury comprising 42 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, a collection of the world’s greatest sportsmen and women selects the winners.
The names of the winners will be announced during a televised Awards Ceremony staged at the Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona, Spain, on the evening of May 22, 2006.
Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “This has been a vintage year for sport and the Academy are going to have an extremely difficult decision when they vote. We have great names in every category. The nominations reflect the immense strength of Spanish sport at the moment and I congratulate all the nominees.”
Laureus and Watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen recently joined forces with Laureus, an organization that combines sport and social commitment at the very highest level.
IWC Brand Manager, Gianfranco D’Attis noted that every year Laureus presents the Laureus World Sports Awards to the best sportsmen and women from all over the globe and since 2005, IWC Schaffhausen has been one of the driving forces behind Laureus, an organization established in 1999.
“Between them, the 42 Academy members account for over 100 Olympic medals, 100 world championship titles and 200 world records,” remarked Mr. D’Attis. “Our commitment to Laureus represents a unique chance for the company, as a manufacturer of top-quality luxury watches, to further build on our close affinity to sports stars of the past and present,” he stressed.
Fernando Alonso became the youngest driver at 24 years and 58 days to win the Formula One World Championship in 2005, winning seven-Grand Prix and ending Michael Schumacher’s dominance of the sport. He is one of six nominees for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award along with FC Barcelona’s Brazilian star Ronaldinho, who won his second straight FIFA World Player of the Year Award.
Laureus Academy member Emerson Fittipaldi, who held the record as the youngest ever Formula One World Champion until Alonso’s triumph, said: “He is an exceptional driver. My record was going to be broken one day and I am delighted that it is a real racer like Alonso who has done it. If he can continue finding a car to drive as competitive as the one he is in now, then he can continue winning World Championships.”
The victory of Rafael Nadal in the French Open at the age of 19 made him an instant worldwide tennis star. En route to the final at Roland Garros, Nadal beat World No 1 Roger Federer in the semi-finals on his 19th birthday. He has been nominated for Laureus World Newcomer of the Year, as has FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, 18, who captained Argentina to victory in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
FC Barcelona themselves have been nominated for Laureus World Team of the Year, while one of the other teams nominated in this category, with whom they will be competing, is English club Liverpool, winners of last year’s Champions League, who are coached by Spain’s Rafael Benitez.