Legendary swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with a career total of 22 medals, is to attend the 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards in Rio de Janeiro on March 11. Phelps, who won four gold and two silver medals in London and became the first man ever to win an Olympic swimming title – both 100m butterfly and 200m medley – at three Olympiads, is one of six Nominees for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award.
Britain’s Jessica Ennis, one of the Nominees for Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year after winning the Olympic heptathlon gold medal in London, will also be present.
Also in Rio will be Sarah Attar, the first Saudi woman to compete in a track event at the Olympics. Although she finished 30 seconds behind her nearest competitor in a 800 metres heat, the American-raised athlete, covered in clothing from head to toe apart from her face, received a standing ovation from spectators.
China’s Olympic team will be strongly represented in Rio by swimmer Ye Shiwen – at 16, one of the sensations of the Olympic Games, winning both 200 metres and 400 metres individual medley gold medals – and Ding Ning and Zhang Jike from the dominant Chinese Table Tennis Team. Two former Laureus World Sports Awards winners have also confirmed their attendance: Russian pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and Brazilian skateboarder Bob Burnquist.
Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses will be leading a glittering collection of his fellow Academy Members and Ambassadors, which includes no fewer than 14 Olympic and Paralympic gold medal winners, plus many former world champions from the major sports. Among the Laureus Academy Members, Ambassadors, Nominees and guests who have already confirmed their attendance are:
Nawal El Moutawakel
Alan Fonteles Oliveira
Marvelous Marvin Hagler
Morné du Plessis
Chad Le Clos
The Laureus World Sports Awards are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners, as voted by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, will be unveiled at a globally televised Awards Ceremony at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro on the evening of Monday, March 11.
Double Olympic gold medallist Edwin Moses said: “Everyone is delighted that the Laureus Awards is being staged in Rio de Janeiro as the city builds up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Laureus Awards Ceremony following an Olympic year is always very special and we are going to have some of the greatest Olympians and Paralympians from London there, including of course Michael Phelps, whose achievements throughout his career are just astounding. I know he will receive a wonderful welcome.”
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports over 140 community sports projects around the world, including three in Brazil. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €60 million for projects which have improved the lives of more than one-and-a-half million young people.
The Laureus World Sports Awards will enhance the calendar of major global events that Rio de Janeiro is hosting in the coming years, such as the 2013 World Judo Championship, the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Rio is the birthplace of sport and culture in Brazil, a state of vibrant energy and natural beauty that has become a showcase of the country to the world.
Among the winners who have received Awards at previous Award Ceremonies have been Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Alex Ferguson, Lewis Hamilton, Justine Henin, Kelly Holmes, Rafael Nadal, Steve Redgrave, Ronaldo, Michael Schumacher, Kelly Slater, Serena Williams and Zinedine Zidane. Guests attending the Awards Ceremony have included His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain, HSH Prince Albert of Monaco, David and Victoria Beckham, Sean Connery, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Morgan Freeman, Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey.
The full list of Nominees for the 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards is:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
Usain Bolt (Jamaica) Athletics; Mo Farah (UK) Athletics; Lionel Messi (Argentina) Football; Michael Phelps (US) Swimming; Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Motor Racing; Bradley Wiggins (UK) Cycling
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year
Jessica Ennis (UK) Athletics; Allyson Felix (US) Athletics: Missy Franklin (US) Swimming; Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) Athletics; Lindsey Vonn (US) Skiing; Serena Williams (US) Tennis
Laureus World Team of the Year
China Olympic Table Tennis Team; European Ryder Cup Team; Miami Heat (US) Basketball; Red Bull Formula One Team (Austria); Spain Men’s Football Team; US Men’s Basketball Team
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year
Yannick Agnel (France) Swimming; Gabby Douglas (US) Gymnastics; Kirani James (Grenada) Athletics: Andy Murray (UK) Tennis; Neymar (Brazil) Football; Ye Shiwen (China) Swimming
Laureus World Comeback of the Year
Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia) Athletics; Ernie Els (South Africa) Golf; European Ryder Cup Team; Anna Meares (Australia) Cycling; Felix Sanchez (Dominican Republic) Athletics; Germany Men’s Olympic Eights Rowing Team
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Patrick Anderson (Canada) Wheelchair Basketball; Johanna Benson (Namibia) Athletics; Daniel de Faria Dias (Brazil) Swimming; Alan Fonteles Oliveira (Brazil) Athletics; David Weir (United Kingdom) Wheelchair Racing; Alex Zanardi (Italy) Hand Cycling
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year
Felix Baumgartner (Austria) Skydiving; Jamie Bestwick (UK) BMX; Julie Bresset (France) Mountain Biking; Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) Surfing; Joel Parkinson (Australia) Surfing; Philip Köster (Germany) Windsurfing
MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly.
As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …