Like in athletic arena, Jamaican super-sprinter Usain Bolt attracted the most attention at Monaco’s 2017 Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony on February 14, 2017. While Bolt walked away with 2017 Laureus Sportsman of the Year award, American artistic gymnast Simone Biles claimed the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year for her superb show at the 2016 Rio Games. Others joining Bolt and Biles with top accolades were; US swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all-time, Michael Phelps, who bagged Laureus Comeback of the Year Award; 2016 Formula-One champion Nico Rosberg, who claimed the Breakthrough of the Year Award and Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri, who won the Laureus Spirit of Sport Award. In other categories, Italian Paralympic winner Beatrice Vio of Italy won the Disability Award; Olympic refugee team, led by Tegla Loroupe, won the Laureus Sport for Good award; celebrated mountain biker Rachel Atherton won the Action Sportsperson of the Year Award and Chicago Cubs’ first Major League Baseball World Series victory for 108 years resulted in their winning the Laureus Team of the Year Award. For the first time ever, sports fans had a chance to make their voices heard in a brand new Best Sporting Moment of the Year Award and that honor went to Barcelona’s Under-12 team for a touching show during a football game last year in Tokyo.
In a glittering ceremony at Monaco on Tuesday, HSH Prince Albert and HSH Princess Charlene joined global sport‘s biggest names, who were honored with 2017 Laureus World Sports Awards. Stealing the limelight was Jamaican Sprint king Usain Bolt, who edged out the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Andy Murray and LeBron James to win the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award. The 1.95m tall Bolt made everyone look up as he went on stage to receive his fourth Laureus award from the legendary Michael Johnson. With that, Bolt equaled a select band of 4-time Laureus winners; Roger Federer, Serena Williams and professional American surfer Kelly Slater. While receiving his award, Bolt confirmed he had already handed back the gold medal from the 100m relay at Beijing 2008, after his teammate Nesta Carter was banned for a doping violation by IOC.
Morning everyone! ☀️
— Laureus (@LaureusSport) February 20, 2017
Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award was conferred on the diminutive 1.45m tall US gymnast Simone Biles, who produced a brilliant performance during 2016 Rio Olympics, where she won 4 gold medals and a bronze. Biles received her award from Prince Albert and legendary Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci. Biles was chosen as winner ahead of swimmer Katie Ledecky, sprinter Allyson Felix, tennis star Angelique Kerber, sprinter Elaine Thompson and cyclist Laura Kenny.
Champion swimmer Michael Phelps faced little competition in the category of Laureus Comeback of the Year Award. Phelps had announced his retirement after 2012 London Games but made a huge comeback at Rio by winning five more gold medals and a silver. Phelps left no chance for his competitors; Juan Martin del Potro, Ruth Beitia, Nick Skelton, Fabienne St Louis and Aksel Lund Svindal. German Tennis legend Boris Becker gifted the award to Phelps.
Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award was won by 2016 F-1 champion Nico Rosberg. The German had only managed runners-up finishes in 2014 and 2015 but finally won the title last season. Ironically, however, Rosberg shocked the global sports community by announcing his retirement from motor racing a mere 5 days after winning the 2016 F1 World Championship in November.
— Laureus (@LaureusSport) February 15, 2017
In other categories, Italy’s Beatrice Vio bagged the Sportsperson of the Year with a disability. The Italian wheelchair fencer won the gold at 2016 Paralympics and she is the only quadruple amputee in international wheelchair fencing. The Refugee Olympic Team led by Tegla Loroupe, won the Sport for Good Award for Sporting inspiration for their participation in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The world’s greatest downhill mountain biker Rachel Atherton of Great Britain won the Action Sportsperson of the year award for her all-time achievement. Rachel, a multiple World Champion, began riding as a little girl aged 8 and she started the mountain biking at the age of 11. Claudio Ranieri collected the Spirit of Sport award on behalf of Leicester City, last season’s winners of the English Premier League. The Laureus Team of the year award went to USA’s Chicago Cubs for their historic team performance in winning the first Major League Baseball World Series in 108 years.
For the first time in Laureus Awards’ history, the voice of sports fans was heard as they chose Barcelona’s Under-12 football team for the Best Sporting Moment Award. During the final of Junior Soccer World Challenge on August 30, 2016 at Tokyo, Barcelona beat hosts Japan 1-0 but the end of the match saw several Japanese boys sobbing uncontrollably. It was here that the Spanish kids went out of their way in consoling the opposition players in a great show of compassion. Sports Fans found the scenes touching and chose Barcelona’s Under-12 team for the unique 2017 Laureus Award.