Matfield backs Bolt for Laureus
Cape Town - Former Springbok captain Victor Matfield, a member of the South African Rugby World Cup-winning side that lifted the Team of the Year Award
at the 2008 Laureus World Sport Awards, has backed Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt to win the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award
on March 11 in Rio de Janeiro.
“I would love to see (Tour de France champion) Bradley Wiggins winning it, because cycling is my new sport,” Matfield explained. “But I think it should go to Usain Bolt. He was under a lot of pressure at the Olympics, and just showed again why he is the superstar he is.”
Bolt is competing with Wiggins, Mo Farah, Lionel Messi, Sebastian Vettel and Michael Phelps for the honour; there are no rugby players nominated in 2013, but Matfield does feel the six Laureus nominees do have equals on the rugby field.
“There are probably a few, if you look at current players,” Matfield suggested.
“Three New Zealanders: Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, and then Sonny Bill Williams. In South Africa, we’ve got Bryan Habana, especially after coming back last year - he’s definitely in the same category.”
With no rugby players on this year’s list, Matfield has had to look to other sports for his predicted winners in Rio de Janeiro, and has opted for tennis and golf.
“I am a Serena Williams fan, and I believe she will win the Laureus Sportswoman Award
,” said Matfield of a category that also includes Allyson Felix, Lindsay Vonn, Jessica Ennis, Missy Franklin and Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce.
“And I would love to see the European Ryder Cup team win,” he added of the Laureus Team category
, which also sees Spain’s men’s footballers, China’s men’s table tennis team, the Miami Heat, the Red Bull Formula One team and the United States Olympic basketball squad in contention.
“The way they fought back, and were so close to losing it when Phil Mickelson chipped his ball so close on the 16th or 17th on the last day, was just unbelievable.”
Matfield is well placed to comment on the awards, as a former winner himself, and he’s clear about just what the win in 2008 meant to him, his Springbok team-mates, and the game of rugby in South Africa.
“I think it was great for rugby and for South Africa that we won it. Rugby is a pretty small sport when it comes to world sport, so it was great to get the award against all the other big sports teams in the world.
“For South Africa, I've seen so many times what sport can do for our country in bringing people together and giving people hope. So winning the World Cup, and winning this award, just showed to people in our country that when you dream big and you work hard for it, you can achieve greatness.”
That sentiment extends to the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, and the important impact Matfield sees Laureus having around the world.
“Sport is probably the greatest medium to give people hope, and to show them they can overcome anything that stands in their way. So it is great to see Laureus using this opportunity to really make a difference in peoples' lives.”