Cricketers back Bolt, Serena
Cape Town - With so many worthy candidates vying for the seven awards available at the Laureus World Sport Awards
in Rio de Janeiro on March 11, picking the winners will be no easy task for the members of the Laureus Academy - as the differing predictions of South African cricketers Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and JP Duminy clearly illustrate.
“I’d go with Usain Bolt in the Laureus Sportsman category
,” star all-rounder Kallis suggested.
“He’s the quickest man ever, and you can't be beaten on that achievement.”
One-day captain De Villiers agreed with him, albeit with some debate.
“Even though I'm a fan of Sebastian Vettel and according to a few friends and fans we're lookalikes, I’ve got a feeling it's a year for the Olympic heroes! My guess will be Usain Bolt. He’s a one of a kind athlete with an amazing presence around him! He's a born entertainer and inspires us all with his amazing ability to make running at the speed of light look real easy.”
But Duminy differs from his team-mates.
“I will go with Michael Phelps or Bradley Wiggins. In my opinion the Tour de France is one of the most grueling sports events around, and the sacrifice and dedication one needs to have is immense,” the Proteas left-hander argued.
“And Michael Phelps, to turn up year after year and produce the results he has, is outstanding. It will be a close one indeed.”
That it certainly will, especially as double Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah and Barcelona maestro Lionel Messi are also in the running; the Sportswoman of the Year category
is also a difficult one to pick.
“Serena Williams has had an outstanding run,” Kallis explained in picking the American, winner of two Grand Slam singles titles and two Olympic gold medals, as his victor.
Duminy has also opted for Williams: “Serena has dominated Grand Slams over the last while, and the power that she has for a woman is great to watch.”
But De Villiers went with a track star for his prediction: British heptathlete Jessica Ennis.
“She inspired many at the 2012 Olympics, and I hope she gets the award.”
Ennis’s fellow athletes Allyson Felix and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, swimmer Missy Franklin, one of the stars of the pool at the London Olympics, and Lindsay Vonn, one of the all-time greats of women’s skiing, complete another tough category, and one in which the cricketers are divided in their opinions.
They’re all united in the Laureus Team of the Year category
, though: Europe’s incredible Ryder Cup golfers.
“They had their backs against the wall for most of the four days,” Duminy said.
“The way they came back to win it was a true inspiration to any sportsman or sports team out there.”
De Villiers concurs: “The European Ryder Cup team kept me up all night, and even got me standing on the driving range the next day. Great team effort!"
"It was a serious comeback,” added Kallis, “and in memory of Seve (Ballesteros).”
So, predictions made from three members of the world’s No 1 Test team - a status that may seem them in contention for a Laureus Team award
in a year’s time. What would recognition from Laureus mean to three athletes who’ve already achieved so much?
“It’s something I hadn't thought of,” De Villiers admitted.
“But it would mean the world to me. Looking at the names mentioned above, I will have to come up with outstanding performances on a regular basis to even get a mention at these awards. I won't say it's one of my goals, but something that would make me very proud. I believe it's possible.”
Duminy is equally excited at the thought of Laureus success.
“It would mean the absolute world to me. Just to be in the same category as these sporting greats is an achievement on its own. Nothing is impossible, so hopefully one day I will make it!”
And Kallis? 162 Test matches, over 13 000 Test runs, closing in one 300 Test wickets, and widely regarded as the finest all-round cricketer ever to have played the game - what would a Laureus Award
mean to South Africa’s cricketing talisman?
“It would be a major honour,” the quiet all-rounder’s simple response.
“It is the pinnacle of sports awards.”