Footballer Lionel Messi and basketball star Stephen Curry have both been recognised for their outstanding recent sporting achievements, as each was nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award:
The Barcelona forward and the Golden State Warriors point guard are part of an impressive six-man shortlist for the prize, which also includes Usain Bolt, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic and Jordan Spieth.
Tennis sensation Serena Williams is on the women’s shortlist, which contains fellow Americans Katie Ledecky and Carli Lloyd. Genzebe Dibaba and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will represent athletics, while skier Anna Fenninger is also shortlisted.
Here are the nominees for the categories in full, with the ceremony set to be held in Berlin on April 18.
|Lewis Hamilton||UK||Motor Racing|
|All Blacks||New Zealand||Rugby|
|Golden State Warriors||USA||Basketball|
|Great Britain Davis Cup Team||UK||Tennis|
|Mercedes Formula One Team||German||Motor Racing|
|US Women’s Football Team||USA||Football|
|Dan Carter||New Zealand||Rugby Union|
|Chile Men's Football Team||Chile||Football|
|Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Motor Racing|
|Rachel Atherton||UK||Mountain Biking|
|Adriano de Souza||Brazil||Surfing|
|Jan Frodeno||Germany||Ironman Triathlon|
|Sportsperson with Disability|
|Pieter Du Preez||South Africa||Cycling|
|Leung Yuk Wing||China||Boccia|
After leading Barcelona to five major honours in 2015, Messi reasserted himself as one of the greatest footballers in history.
"It is an honour and a source of pride to once again be nominated for Sportsman of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Awards," he said. "As a team, we had an excellent 2015, achieving many of the goals we set out for ourselves. This nomination, both individually and for the team, gives extra motivation to all of us to keep working hard every day and to achieve even more."
Messi has never won the award in the past, and should he be crowned as the victor in the German capital next month, he will become the first footballer to receive the accolade. Squawka Football recently summed up the 28-year-old’s genius:
Messi's goals over those 8 seasons:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 28, 2016
2008/09 = 38
2009/10 = 47
2010/11 = 53
2011/12 = 73
2012/13 = 60
2013/14 = 41
2014/15 = 58
2015/16 = 30
Like Messi, Curry would also become the first from his sport to win this illustrious gong. And he too would be a worthy winner, as his remarkable shooting has propelled the Warriors to a memorable season, having won 54 and lost just five of their matches so far.
This term Curry has averaged a hugely impressive 30.7 points per game, and he’s a player who has stepped up when it matters for his team this season, per Bleacher Report UK:
46 points ✅— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) February 28, 2016
NBA record 12 three-pointers ✅
Amazing game-winner ✅
Steph Curry is downright ridiculous 🏀 🔥 https://t.co/F0gOc5cjyV
Men who do know about winning this accolade are Djokovic and Bolt, who have each enjoyed fine spells of success themselves.
The former is the holder of the award and a two-time winner; he won three of the four Grand Slam titles available to him in 2015, as well as the Australian Open in January.
Bolt lit up the World Championships last year, producing a stunning late rally to beat Justin Gatlin in the 100 metres final and winning the 200 metres at a canter.
Here’s a reminder of what was an incredible final in the 100 metres, with the Jamaican, a three-time winner of the award, somehow clinching gold:
Hamilton’s achievements in Formula One have also been noted, as he became a three-time world champion in 2015.
"I want to say thank you to Laureus for nominating me for the Sportsman of the Year Award," he said after being nominated. "I feel very privileged. I’m a big admirer of what Laureus does and it’s so great to be a part of it. I wish all the other nominees the best. I’m really excited to see what the outcome will be."
Spieth, who won two major golf titles in 2015, is the youngest man on the shortlist and has also been nominated in the Breakthrough category after his superb year.
Williams will be hopeful of winning the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award for a third time. The tennis star may not have completed her quest for all four Grand Slam titles last season, but she was still impeccable on her way to wins at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
Lloyd’s United States team were victorious at the 2015 football World Cup, while Fraser-Pryce and Dibaba both enjoyed success on the track, winning three golds and one bronze between them at the Beijing World Championships.
Ledecky continued to break new ground in the pool last year, dominating in the freestyle events at the World Championships to win a staggering five gold medals. She also broke three world records, the most impressive of which came in the 1,500 metres event:
Finally, Austria’s Fenninger was the star of the 2015 World Championships, winning gold in both the Super G and GS categories in downhill skiing, before going on to win the overall World Cup later in the year.
All quotes obtained directly from Laureus