Abu Dhabi: Tennis ace Rafael Nadal pipped star footballers Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta to clinch the ‘World Sportsman of the Year’, while the World Cup winning Spanish football side expectedly walked away with the ‘World Team of the Year’ trophy at the Laureus World Sports Awards night here on Monday.
The ‘World Sportswoman of the Year’ honour went to American alpine skiier Lindsey Vonn, who beat off competition from Belgian tennis ace Kim Clijsters, who won a second straight US Open and four other events last year, Serena Williams, and world number one tennis player Caroline Wozniacki among others.
Vonn had secured her third straight skiing World Cup and the Olympic Downhill gold medal last year.
World number one Nadal -- who completed a career slam last year by clinching the US Open, French Open and the Wimbledon to go with his 2009 Australian Open triumph -- walked away with the top honours by pipping pre-awards favourites Messi and Iniesta.
It was Nadal’s second Laureus Award after the Laureus Breakthrough Award in 2006.
The Spanish celebrations did not end at that as their World Cup winning football side clinched the ‘Team of the Year’ honour ahead of Europe’s Ryder Cup-winning team and the Italian football club Inter Milan -- which had won the treble of UEFA Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia last year -- among others.
French football legend Zinedine Zidane was presented the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award “in recognition of his remarkable career.”
American Kelly Slater was presented with the ‘Laureus Action Sports Award’ for the third time, after winning a record 10th World Surfing Championship. Young golfer Martin Kaymer was presented with the ‘Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award’ after winning the US PGA Championship.
Visually impaired skier and biathlete Verena Bentele picked up the ‘Laureus Disability Award’ after capturing five gold medals in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award went to Italy’s seven-time motor cycle world champion Valentino Rossi, who returned to the track just 41 days after breaking his leg.
The winners were voted by the Laureus World Sports Academy made up of 46 legendary sportspersons and the entire ceremony was hosted by double Oscar winner actor Kevin Spacey.
At the Awards Ceremony it was announced that Australian five-time motor cycle 500cc world champion Mick Doohan and five-time Olympic rowing gold medallist Steve Redgrave have been elected to the Laureus World Sports Academy.
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Rafael Nadal
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Lindsey Vonn
Laureus World Team of the Year: Spain World Cup Team
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Martin Kaymer
Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Valentino Rossi
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Verena Bentele
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Kelly Slater.