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Djokovic, Cheruiyot, Barcelona win Laureus Awards

Despite freezing weather, many fans waited and shouted alongside the red carpet as winners of the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards were unveiled in London on Monday.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2012 15:03 IST

Despite freezing weather, many fans waited and shouted alongside the red carpet as winners of the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards were unveiled in London on Monday.

Serbian tennis giant Novak Djokovic and Kenyan distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot were named as the best Sportsman and Sportswoman of the year, while the glory of best Team went to reigning Champions League football holders FC Barcelona.

Djokovic, the first player representing Serbia to win a Grand Slam singles title, is also the youngest player to reach the semifinals of all four Grand Slams in the open era at the age of 24.

In his remarkable 2011, the humorous "Djoker" not only won Australian, Wimbledon and US Open crowns, but also took away the World No 1 ranking from Spanish rival Rafael Nadal, Xinhua reported.

Although his level of performance dropped a bit at the end of 2011, Djokovic still proved his dominance with a 70-6 record. American tennis legend Pete Sampras described his season as "the best I have seen in my lifetime".

Cheruiyot was considered one of the greatest distance runners of this generation. She picked up gold medals of both 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

In the 5,000m competition, Cheruiyot finished the final kilometre in two minutes and 41.76 seconds, the fastest ever in World Championship history. In the 10,000m race, she clocked a personal best of 30 minutes 48.98 seconds.

Barcelona, under coach Pep Guardiola, was winner of the Champions League and the Spanish League in the 2010/11 season. It was the fourth time the team was nominated for the Laureus but won it for the first time.

Two great footballers, Laureus Academy members Franz Beckenbauer and Bobby Charlton made compliments to the team.

"Barcelona are the best team in the world and they are almost perfect," said German football idol Beckenbauer. "I would put them in the same class class as other great teams from the past such as the Real Madrid team of the 1950s."

While England legend Charlton said, "They have a philosophy and a passing system of play which everyone is expected to do and, unfortunately for the rest of us, they have the good players as well to actually make it happen...It (success of the team) is going to continue."

In other categories, South Africa's "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius snatched the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. In 2011, he became the first amputee to win a non-disabled World Championships medal in Daegu, a silver in the 4x400 meters relay although he was not selected for the final. His dream to bridge the gap between disabled and non-disabled sport came true, and now he is eying the 2012 London Olympics.

The 25-year-old Pistorius was born with a congenital absence of the fibula, and his legs were amputated below the knees when he was just 11 months old. He runs with the help of carbon fibre blades.

American surfing giant Kelly Slater equalled the record of Roger Federer to win his fourth Laureus Award, as the Action Sportsperson of the year. British golf players, Rory Mcllroy and Dareen Clarke who were both from Britain became winners of the Laureus Awards of Breakthrough and Comeback.

The Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award went to England football legend Bobby Charlton, while the Laureus Sport for Good Award was given to Rai Souza Vieira de Oliveira, a former Brazilian footballer who is a social justice campaigner now.

The award ceremony held in the heart of London was hosted by Golden Globe winning actor Clive Owen, who became a favourite to many after starring films Closer and King Arthur.

Five Olympic legends boasting 19 gold medals among them received warm welcome when walking on the red carpet, including Sergey Bubka, the greatest pole-vaulter in history, Mark Spitz, American swimmer with seven gold from a single Olympics, and double Olympic decathlon gold medallist Daley Thompson.

Unfortunately, Bobby Charlton was unable to share the joy of Laureus as an award-winning guest. He felt unwell on Sunday and returned to Manchester earlier Monday for minor surgery.

The statuette symbolizing his lifetime achievement award is to be taken back by Ferguson.

First Published: Feb 07, 2012 08:28 IST