ESTORIL (Portugal): World number one tennis player Roger Federer and Britain’s double Olympic athletics gold medallist Kelly Holmes won the two top individual honours at Monday’s annual Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony.
Federer, who captured three Grand Slam tournaments in 2004, and Holmes, who won 800m and 1,500m gold in Athens, were joined as award winners by the Euro 2004 football champions Greece and Chinese Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Liu Xiang.
There were also awards for Italian racing driver Alessandro Zanardi, Canadian Paralympics athlete Chantal Petitclerc and record-breaking British yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur.
Greece won the team award, Liu Xiang the newcomer prize, and Zanardi, who lost both legs in a racing accident in 2001, but completed a full touring car season last year, took the comeback of the year award.
Petitclerc, winner of five wheelchair gold medals in Athens last year, who lost both of her legs in an accident when she was 13, won the disabled sportsperson’s award.
MacArthur took the alternative sportsperson’s award after breaking the world record for a round-the-world solo voyage.
The Boston Red Sox, who last year won baseball’s World Series for the first time in 86 years, received a special Spirit of Sport Award.
A celebrity audience included the England football coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, his captain David Beckham, together with wife Victoria, Hollywood actresses Teri Hatcher and Joely Richardson and actor Cuba Gooding Jr.
They rubbed shoulders with others such as tennis great German Boris Becker, Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting and former world drivers’ champion Emerson Fittipaldi of Brazil.
Federer beat off, among others, Lance Armstrong and Michael Schumacher to the World Sportsman of the Year title.
He said: “Now my main ambitions are to win the French Open for the first time and to stay as world number one.”
Holmes, named World Sportswoman of the Year, picked up her 27th award since her double triumph at the Athens Olympics last August.
Fellow nominees had included Wimbledon tennis champion Maria Sharapova and top golfer Annika Sorenstam,
Holmes said: “When I looked at the list I just thought ‘wow’. I was just pleased to be nominated. It’s the Oscars of sport and you just don’t expect to be nominated, let alone win it.”
The awards are decided by the Laureus World Sports Academy, a jury of 40 of the greatest sportsmen and women of all time.
The awards are twinned with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, a charitable venture seeking to assist the underprivileged and needy around the world. – Reuters