Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, triple sprint gold medalist at the Beijing Olympics and rated the fastest man on earth has won the World Sportsman of the Year award from the Laureus World Sports Academy.
Bolt received his prize from Academy member Michael Johnson in a ceremony Wednesday in Toronto.
“I am delighted to win this prestigious Award and would like to thank everyone who voted for me,” Bolt said as he addressed possibly the largest press trun-out for a Canadian athletics function. “It is an honour to succeed such greats as multiple winner Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher, Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods.”
The other nominees for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award were Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals in Beijing, Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, who won the Olympic gold medal, plus his fourth straight French Open title and his first Wimbledon crown, motor sport racers Lewis Hamilton and Valentino Rossi and Portugal and Manchester United footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.
Bolt, 22, received the world’s most prestigious sports Award from Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses and Academy member Michael Johnson.
In Beijing, Bolt became the first man in history to win the 100 metres (9.69secs), 200 metres (19.30secs) and 4×100 metres relay (37.10secs) gold medals in world record times in the same Olympiad. Bolt’s 200 metres time broke the long-standing world record of 19.32secs set by Laureus World Sports Academy member Michael Johnson in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
London-based Laureus describes itself as composed of the Laureus World Sports Awards, the Laureus World Sports Academy and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and harness the power of sport to promote social change. The patron of Laureus is former South African President, Nelson Mandela.
The organisation is supported by its Founding Patrons Daimler (Mercedes Benz) and Richemont and Global Partners Mercedes-Benz, IWC Schaffhausen and Vodafone.
Bolt is in Canada to compete in the 100 metres race at the Festival of Excellence, a world-class track and field meeting to be held at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre on June 11.
His presence has electrified Canadian athletics and has cast some athletes in his shadow. At a pre-award question and answer session, hurdler Perdida Felicien quickly changed her tune after, maybe jokingly, asking for some non-Usain Bolt questions.
State broadcaster CBC quoted sources as saying Bolt was receiving a $250,000 appearance fee for the meet.