Rafael Nadal Is Sportsman of the Year, Crowned By Laureus World Sports Academy

AndersCorrespondent IIIFebruary 8, 2011

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - FEBRUARY 07:  Tennis Player Rafael Nadal of Spain poses with his award for “Laureus World Sportsman of the Year” in the winners studio at the 2011 Laureus World Sports Awards at the Emirates Palace on February 7, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images for Laureus)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal just came short of winning his Rafa Slam, as David Ferrer on a roll and a Rafael Nadal in less-than-perfect condition wasn't a good matchup.

The great Spaniard is currently taking a short break to recover from his injury.

Yesterday, his spirits must have been lifted as he was crowned as Sportsman of the Year by the Laureus World Sports Academy. The Academy consists of about forty members, all former sports stars like Miguel Indurain and Michael Johnson. However, the nominations are done by the leading sports editors, writers and broadcasters from around the globe, who then leave it to the Academy to choose the winners.   

Rafael Nadal has enjoyed many good years and two outstanding years in his tennis career. The first outstanding one saw him win the European Slam, Olympic Gold and the No. 1 ranking in 2008. Good, great, amazing. 

But not enough to top the fastest man on the planet, Usain 'Lightning' Bolt, who made the world drop its collective jaw, when he took three gold medals by setting three world sprinting records at the Beijing Olympics and was duly awarded with the prestigious award. 

Beating his own records and capturing gold once again at the World Championships, Bolt was yet again the Laureus Sportsman of the Year in 2009. 

2010 however, had no World Championships or Olympics and the fastest man on the planet didn't shine much.

Rafael Nadal, the warrior from Majorca, did.

Winning three consecutive Slams on three different surfaces in one calendar year, a feat not even matched by Laver (who only had to win on grass and clay), made him a natural choice for the 2011 Laureus Sportsman of the Year award (counting for the 2010 season).

The fact that he came back from an injury-hobbled 2009 to dominate the tennis scene from the clay courts arrived 'til the last Slam was played, made the choice all the more natural.

Though Nadal was denied the award in 2008 due to Bolt's mind-blowing achievements on the track, this is not Nadal's first Laureus award. In 2006, he won the Laureus Breakthrough, though some might say that had been more fitting for him in 2005 where he won his first slam, 11 titles and became the world No. 2.

The Laureus Academy has historically had a good eye to tennis, awarding Federer as Sportsman of the Year for four consecutive years for his 2004-2007 seasons and nominating him for his 2003 and 2009 seasons. The first awards were handed out in 2000, where Agassi came second for his 1999 season, beaten by Tiger Woods.

On the women's side, Jennifer Capriati, Justine Henin and Serena Williams (twice) have all been awarded by the academy. 

With this in mind, Nadal stands a good chance of reaping further future Laureus Sportsman of the Year Awards.

A repeat of his 2010 season surely wouldn't hurt his chances.

However, "Lightning Bolt" has yet again a World Championship that he can shine in and if he does, it can become a close race between two of the greatest sportsmen on the planet.

At this point though, we should simply applause Rafa for his efforts and them being recognized.