Phelps or Messi for Cameron
Cameron van der Burgh (File)
Cape Town - The London Olympic Games introduced the world to a new generation of swimming stars, with gold medallist and new world record holder Cameron van der Burgh foremost among the sport’s new guard. Who better, then, to run rule over the swimming contenders at this year’s Laureus World Sport Awards
- set to be announced in Rio de Janeiro next week - and in particular, Laureus Sportsman of the Year
nominee Michael Phelps?
“I think he should have won the award in 2008 when he broke Mark Spitz’s record. How can anyone compare to that?” the young South African suggested ahead of the awards.
“I respect the guy for what he has achieved, and what he has done for swimming in the last 10 years. I was lucky to have been there at the Games when he was in his prime in 2008. He was unbeatable. Beautiful to see.”
Phelps signed off in style in London, but he has plenty of competition in Rio: Sebastian Phelps, Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins, Usain Bolt, and a man Van der Burgh has great admiration for: Argentine football maestro, Lionel Messi.
“He is a natural talent, and a hard worker to back it up,” the swimmer, a huge Arsenal fan, said of Messi.
“What I really love about him, compared to so many other footballers, is that he works for his goals, and not for the fouls. I don't think I have ever seen him diving or fishing for a free-kick. If he falls, he doesn't roll over like an Olympic 10-metre diver. He just gets up as quick as he can to continue the game. That is class.”
Van der Burgh also appreciates the impact Laureus Sportswoman of the Year
nominee Missy Franklin has had, but believes we’re yet to see the best of her.
“She is still very young, and London was her break out year. I think we will see a lot more from her in the coming years. What Michael (Phelps) has done for men’s swimming, Missy will do for women's swimming.”
Franklin and Phelps are two of five swimmers up for recognition in Rio; the other three are just as worthy of celebration, Van der Burgh believes.
“Yannick Agnel and Ye Shiwen are both amazing talents. I think Ye Shiwen had a rough time at the Olympics, so I am glad for her nomination. She had a lot of criticism and allegations of drug use, but she has come up clean in all of her tests.
“Daniel de Faria Dias in the Disabled Athlete category is an incredible athlete, and seeing those guys at the Games is very inspiring. So many of us get thrown setbacks and curveballs, and it just depends on how you deal with them. These guys are a testament to how strong the human spirit can be, and they show that we can overcome anything we put our minds to.”
With five swimmers up for Laureus Awards, swimming is set to make quite a statement, but Van der Burgh would like to see more from his sport.
“In every Olympic year, swimming gets a few nominations at the Awards
, which is great. I would like to see more nominations on off years though, so that the sport can become more prominent within the world sporting community.”
Winning one of those awards himself would be extremely special for the South African Olympic hero, as he happily explains.
“It would be a great honour for any of the swimmers. If I am not mistaken, it would be the first in the history of the sport, and that would be a huge milestone for everyone in the pool.”
But while Van der Burgh appreciates the impact Laureus recognition has, he’s equally aware of just how much of an impact the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation is having.
“What I like about the Foundation is that they don't give an instant fix by dropping off food or aid,” Van der Burgh said.
“The Foundations aims to always build up the community by helping leaders establish programs that will have a lasting positive impact.”The full list of Nominees for the 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards is:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
Usain Bolt (Jamaica) Athletics; Mo Farah (UK) Athletics; Lionel Messi (Argentina) Football; Michael Phelps (US) Swimming; Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Motor Racing; Bradley Wiggins (UK) Cycling
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year
Jessica Ennis (UK) Athletics; Allyson Felix (US) Athletics: Missy Franklin (US) Swimming; Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) Athletics; Lindsey Vonn (US) Skiing; Serena Williams (US) Tennis
Laureus World Team of the Year
China Olympic Table Tennis Team; European Ryder Cup Team; Miami Heat (US) Basketball; Red Bull Formula One Team (Austria); Spain Men’s Football Team; US Men’s Basketball Team
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year
Yannick Agnel (France) Swimming; Gabby Douglas (US) Gymnastics; Kirani James (Grenada) Athletics: Andy Murray (UK) Tennis; Neymar (Brazil) Football; Ye Shiwen (China) Swimming
Laureus World Comeback of the Year
Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia) Athletics; Ernie Els (South Africa) Golf; European Ryder Cup Team; Anna Meares (Australia) Cycling; Felix Sanchez (Dominican Republic) Athletics; Germany Men’s Olympic Eights Rowing Team
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Patrick Anderson (Canada) Wheelchair Basketball; Johanna Benson (Namibia) Athletics; Daniel de Faria Dias (Brazil) Swimming; Alan Fonteles Oliveira (Brazil) Athletics; David Weir (United Kingdom) Wheelchair Racing; Alex Zanardi (Italy) Hand Cycling
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year
Felix Baumgartner (Austria) Skydiving; Jamie Bestwick (UK) BMX; Julie Bresset (France) Mountain Biking; Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) Surfing; Joel Parkinson (Australia) Surfing; Philip Köster (Germany) Windsurfing
HAVE YOUR SAY:
Who would YOU select as your Laureus World Sportsman and Sportswoman for 2013? Send your thoughts to Sport24
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