Los Angeles, August 2, 2009 – The Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award went for the second time in three years to legendary American surfer Kelly Slater, who won a record ninth world title in 2008.
The 37-year old legendary surfing master completed his most dominant year yet. Claiming an unprecedented ninth world title in 2008, Slater took first in six of the 10 contests he entered. His 8,832 points this year absolutely dwarfed the 6,780 of his nearest competitor. Slater did not even plan to compete in 2008, giving his rivals a false sense of confidence that he later dashed when he changed his mind and returned to the waves. Slater has won championships at age 20 and 34.
Slater received his award at a special ceremony at the Home Depot Centre on the final day of the 2009 X Games from Laureus World Sports Academy members and action sports legends Tony Hawk and Robby Naish.
After receiving the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award, Slater could not contain his delight in front of an appreciative crowd of fans and other competitors. On accepting the award Slater said
“To be recognized on an international and mainstream sports level is something special that I haven’t experienced a lot. This Laureus Award is something very different and special. To be recognized by this group of athletes is amazing and something I’m happy to carry with me throughout my lifetime. I’m very honored to win this award a second time.”
Laureus World Sports Academy member Tony Hawk said: “Kelly is an awesome athlete having won it all as both the youngest and oldest ever world champion. I don’t know any other athlete who can say that. It is a tribute to his attitude about sport and surfing that he is still around and setting the bar so high.”
Fellow Laureus Academy member Robby Naish commented “Kelly’s dominance over the sport of surfing has been nothing short of amazing. In a sport that changes and evolves as quickly as surfing, staying on top for so long is unbelievable. Kelly Slater is simply the greatest surfer of all time.”
The other nominees for the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award were France’s double Olympic mountain bike gold medallist Julien Absoalon, Australian women’s surfing sensation Stephanie Gilre, UK born world kiteboard champion Aaron Hadlow and two US athletes; seven time Winter X Games gold medallist Tanner Hall and Snowboarding/Skateboarding champion and former Laureus World Action sportsperson winner Shaun White.
The Laureus World Sports Awards are the only global sports awards honoring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury – the 46 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, a collection of the world’s greatest sportsmen and women. The Laureus World Sports Awards recognize sporting achievement during the period January 1, 2008 – December 31, 2008.
Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman, Dr. Edwin Moses said “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the X Games for hosting the Laureus presentation ceremony, and for their huge contribution to positioning action sports to a wider global audience. I would also like to congratulate Kelly on winning his second Laureus World Sports Award”.
The Laureus World Action Sportsperson Award completes eight weeks of global presentations to winners of the prestigious 2009 Laureus World Sports Awards.
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt was named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year after his remarkable sprint triple in Beijing, Russian pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva has won the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award for the second time in three years, Britain’s double gold medal swimmer Rebecca Adlington has been presented with the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award, while the China Olympic Team has won the Laureus World Team of the Year after topping the Beijing medals table.
The prestigious Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award went to Brazilian swimmer Daniel Dias who won nine medals in the pool at the Paralympic Games in Beijing in September.
Away from the Olympics and Paralympics, boxer Vitali Klitschko received the Laureus Comeback of the Year Award after regaining the WBC World Heayweight Championship for the second time.
The winners of this year’s Laureus World Sports Awards received their Awards during a series of presentations made during May – July. Because of the current economic situation Laureus and its partners have decided to forego the usual spring Awards Ceremony. The key focus for Laureus during 2009 will be to support the funding and activities of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. The Laureus Foundation addresses social challenges through a worldwide program of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception Laureus has raised $28 million for projects which have helped improve the lives of more than one million young people.