Swimmers Strike Out at 2020 Laureus World Sport Awards

Swimmers went 0-for-3 at the 2020 Laureus World Sport Awards earlier this week in Berlin, Germany. Hosted by actor Hugh Grant, the annual awards ceremony celebrated the world’s best athletes of 2019 on Monday evening.

Top billing in the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year categories was shared by 3 athletes. The men’s award was given jointly to Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and soccer player Lionel Messi. This marked the first time since the awards began in 2000 that either Sportsman or Sportswoman award was shared.

Hamilton won his 3rd-straight Formula One championship in 2019 and 6th overall, which had pundit Johnny Herbert proclaim him as the “best driver ever.” Meanwhile, the 32-year old Messi, who plays internationally for Argentina and professionally for Barcelona, won his record-setting 6th Ballon d’Or award, celebrating the world’s best footballer (soccer player). He also led Barcelona to a title in Spain’s La Liga for the first time as the team’s captain.

Sportswoman of the Year honors went to American gymnast Simone Biles. The 22-year old gymnast, who owns 4 Olympic gold medals and 19 World Championship gold medals, has been the world’s dominant female gymnast since 2013, but in 2019 she elevated her game to a whole new level.

5 more World Championship gold medals, including the All-Around title, gives her the most World Championship medals and most World Championship gold medals in gymnastics history. It also gives her the most World all-around titles (5) in history. She also had 2 new skills named after her – the Biles dismount on balance beam and the Biles II on floor exercise.

3 swimmers were nominated for awards. American Nathan Adrian was nominated for Comeback Athlete of the Year after winning 2 World Championship gold medals on relays after starting the year with a cancer diagnosis. That award went to German auto racer Sophia Florsch, who returned to driving after a horrendous crash in 2018 that required a 17-hour surgery.

Another American swimmer, Regan Smith, was nominated for Breakthrough Athlete of the Year after breaking 3 World Records and winning 2 gold medals at the World Championships. That award instead went to 23-year old Colombian cyclist Egan Bernal, who won the Tour de France. Bernal wasn’t even intended to be his team’s leader, but an injury elevated him to that status, and he capitalized to become the youngest Tour de France winner since 1909, and 3rd-youngest ever. He was also the 2nd Colombian or South American rider to win the sport’s premier tour.

British para-swimmer Alice Tai was nominated in the Athlete with a Disability award after winning 7 gold medals at the World Para-Swimming World Championships. She lost out to American rower, nordic skiier, and cyclist Oksana Masters.

Full 2020 Laureus Sport Award Winners:

  • Sportsman of the Year: Lewis Hamilton (GBR, auto racing) & Lionel Messi (ARG, Football/Soccer)
  • Sportswoman of the Year: Simone Biles (USA, Gymnastics)
  • Team of the Year: South African National Rugby Union Team
  • Breakthrough Athlete of the Year: Egan Bernal (COL, road cycling)
  • Comeback Athlete of the Year: Sophia Florsch (Germany, auto racing)
  • Disability Athlete of the Year: Oksana Masters (USA, multiple)
  • Action Sports Athlete of the Year: Chloe Kim (USA, snowboard halfpipe)
  • Sporting moment of the last 20 years: Sachin Tendulkar (IND, cricket)
  • Lifetime achievement award: Dirk Nowitzki (GER, basketball)
  • Exceptional Achievement: Spanish Basketball Federation

Athletes are nominated by 3 different panel. The Nominations Panel includes more than 1,000 of the world’s leading sports editors, writers, influencers and broadcasters from 93 countries selects the Nominees for 5 categories – Sportsman, Sportswoman, Team, Breakthrough and Comeback of the Year. The Action Sports Panel is made up of 165 of the world’s leading action sports editors, writers, influencers and broadcasters selecting 6 Nominees for 1 category – The Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) selects 6 nominees for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award, where Tai is nominated.

The 68 members of the Laurues Academy, a group of global sporting legends, then vote to select the winners in each category. There are 3 swimmers among the academy: Australian Dawn Fraser, American Mark Spitz, and American Missy Franklin. Athletes from 25 countries are included among the academy, with the US (13) and UK (9) having the biggest representations.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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