Tennis icon Novak Djokovic toppled world-class competition to be named Sportsman of the Year at the 2015 Laureus Awards. This year's ceremony was hosted by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch and took place in Shanghai, China.
Djokovic was one of six high-profile nominees for the prize, overcoming the competition of Cristiano Ronaldo (Football), Lewis Hamilton (Formula One), Rory McIlroy (Golf), Renaud Lavillenie (Athletics) and Marc Marquez (Motorcycling).
The giant Serb captured his second Wimbledon title in 2014, followed by a victory in the ATP Finals. This allowed him to replace Rafael Nadal as the world No. 1. He previously won the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award in 2012.
Ethiopian athlete Genzebe Dibaba took the Sportswoman of the Year victory after breaking three records in a historic two-week spell during Feb. 1-15, 2014. Confirmation was provided by Laureus' Twitter account:
Dibaba smashed previous global bests in the indoor 1,500 metres, before dominating the 3,000 metres and finally the two-mile record. Only Jesse Owens and Usain Bolt have broken a trio of records within this period of time, as reported by the Times of San Diego.
The 24-year-old winner accepted her prize ahead of tennis stars Serena Williams and Li Na, plus Valerie Adams (Athletics), Marit Bjorgen (Skiing) and Tina Maze (Skiing).
The Laureus Awards ceremony "celebrates the most remarkable men and women from the world of sport along with the greatest achievements fans have admired throughout the year," according to the event's website.
Seven statuettes are handed out—although further "discretionary" awards are possible—with proceeds from the ceremony helping to support over 150 communities across the globe which currently benefit from the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
All award winners are voted for by members of the Laureus World Sports Academy. The nominations were put together by a selection of "sports editors, writers and broadcasters," according to Laureus' website.
Up-and-coming competitors often rank highly at the ceremony, as noted by Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo picking up the Breakthrough award:
Ricciardo's reputation continues to grow at Red Bull, winning three Grand Prix's in his debut year after replacing Mark Webber.
He outlasted Mario Gotze—who scored the winning goal for Germany at last year's World Cup final—not to mention Colombia and Real Madrid starlet James Rodriguez. Tennis star Marin Cilic, the Swiss Davis Cup team and alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin also missed out.
Gotze was included in Germany's Team of the Year win, though:
Although she failed to win the Sportswomen trophy, Li got her hands on this year's Exceptional Achievement award, emerging victorious in front of the Chinese crowd:
The locals also had another reason to celebrate when basketball legend Yao Ming joined Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar in the Laureus Hall of Fame:
Quite brilliantly, Google executive Alan Eustace was honoured for breaking Felix Baumgartner's freefall record, dropping 135,889 feet in a descent which lasted 15 minutes:
Equally amazing is the recovery made by South African rugby hero Schalk Burger, who beat "life-threatening" bacterial meningitis to return to international action. He picked up this year's Comeback award:
American wheelchair racing favourite Tatyana McFadden completed a marathon grand slam—Boston, Chicago, London and New York—to grab herself this year's Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award:
Cumberbatch's exchanges with other famous actors broke up the handing out of trophies, highlighted throughout Laureus' live-tweeting of the event:
Lesser known organisation's and sports people were also honoured, including Skateistan, a charity organisation who use the popularity of skateboarding as a "tool for empowerment" in Afghanistan, South Africa and Cambodia:
This year's range of winners are all brought together by major sporting achievement, and indeed, likely future success.
While the likes of Djokovic, Li and Dibaba are known across the globe, it's important to bring recognition to other feats which may have passed the majority of sport lovers by.