Burger shortlisted for Laureus award

2015-02-11 14:24
Schalk Burger (Gallo Images)

Shanghai - Schalk Burger’s fightback from life-threatening meningitis to play a key role once again for the Springboks ahead of the Rugby World Cup has earned him nomination for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award, following a ballot by the world’s media.

A glittering collection of the world’s greatest sports stars have been nominated for the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards, with the names of the winners to be revealed in Shanghai on April 15, but Burger’s story of recovery and return to the heights of rugby is one of the most inspirational of the year.

Burger had a cyst next to his spinal cord and went into hospital for treatment, but developed bacterial meningitis and was moved to intensive care. He was in isolation and intensive care during which his parents were called to the hospital to say ‘goodbye’.

 “There was a critical stage for nearly five days in which there was a lot of uncertainty. I was in isolation and I was seriously ill, so ill in fact that some people around me thought ‘this is it’,” said Burger.

However, he recovered and made a remarkable comeback, being picked for the Springbok squad to play against Australia and New Zealand in the Rugby Championship. Then he was named man-of-the-match in the November victory over England at Twickenham, in which he scored the decisive third try.

Doctors said the average person would never have made it back to top class competition, let alone be named man-of-the-match in such a high pressure game.

Former Springbok captain Morné du Plessis, who was also manager of the 1995 World Cup winning team, said: “I have known Schalk and his family for many years and I know that there were very real concerns for his wellbeing during his illness. It really was a great relief for his family, friends and supporters to just see him well again, not even to think at that stage that he would make a miraculous comeback and be back to his best on the rugby pitch. I am sure now he will have his eye on making a big impact in the World Cup for the Springboks. Schalk is also a responsible and caring human being who has done a great deal to support the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in South Africa and he has been a wonderful Ambassador for Laureus.”

Also nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award are Italian footballer Francesco Acerbi, who recovered from cancer to return to Serie A and the Italy football squad, Diego Milito, who returned to his first club Racing to inspire them to their first Argentine title for 13 years, British runner Jo Pavey, who won the European Championships 10 000 metres gold medal at the age of 40, ten months after giving birth, Pierre Vaultier, who won the Winter Olympics snowboard gold just two months after ligament damage, and British golfer Oliver Wilson, who was 792nd in the world rankings when he won his first event after 228 European Tour starts.

Full list of Nominees for the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards:

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award

Novak Djokovic (Serbia) Tennis - won Wimbledon for second time; replaced Rafael Nadal as world No 1

Lewis Hamilton (UK) Motor Racing - won second Formula One World Championship, with 11 victories

Renaud Lavillenie (France) Athletics - broke Sergey Bubka’s 21-year-old pole vault world record

Rory McIlroy (UK) Golf - No 1 golfer in the world, won The Open and USPGA Major Championships

Marc Márquez (Spain) Motor Cycling - won his second straight World MotoGP title at the age of 21

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Football - winner of the Ballon d’Or/World Player of the Year award

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award

Valerie Adams (NZ) Athletics - undefeated in shot put for four years; was IAAF Women’s Athlete of Year

Marit Bjørgen (Norway) Nordic Skiing - in Sochi became most decorated female Winter Olympian

Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia) Athletics - broke three world records in three different events in two weeks

Tina Maze (Slovenia) Alpine Skiing - won two gold medals in the Winter Olympics, Slovenia’s first ever

Li Na (China) Tennis - won second Grand Slam, reached world No.2 ranking, then had to retire

Serena Williams (US) Tennis - won 18th career Grand Slam, level with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova

Laureus World Team of the Year Award

European Ryder Cup Team (Golf) - beat US 16½-11½, for third straight win and sixth in the last seven

Germany Men’s Football Team - became first European team to win the FIFA World Cup in South America

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team (Germany) - won Constructors’ World Championship

Real Madrid Football Team (Spain) - won a record tenth Champions League/European Cup victory

San Antonio Spurs (US) Basketball - won NBA Championship for fifth time, beating Miami Heat 4-1

Switzerland Davis Cup Team (Tennis) - inspired by Roger Federer, won Davis Cup for the first time

Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award

Marin Cilic (Croatia) Tennis - won first ever Grand Slam at the US Open, beating Kei Nishikori in final

Mario Götze (Germany) Football - scored the winning goal for Germany in the FIFA World Cup Final

Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Motor Racing - won three Grand Prix for Red Bull in his rookie year

James Rodriguez (Colombia) Football - won Golden Boot in FIFA World Cup as leading scorer 

Mikaela Shiffrin (US) Alpine Skiing - at 18 years 345 days became youngest Olympic Slalom champion

Switzerland Davis Cup Team (Tennis) - inspired by Roger Federer, won Davis Cup for the first time

Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award

Francesco Acerbi (Italy) Football - recovered from cancer to return to Serie A and the Italy football squad

Schalk Burger (South Africa) Rugby - survived life-threatening bacterial meningitis to return to Springboks team

Diego Milito (Argentina) Football - returned to Racing who won the Argentine title for first time in 13 years

Jo Pavey (UK) Athletics - won European Championships 10,000 metres gold ten months after giving birth

Pierre Vaultier (France) Snowboarding - won Winter Olympics gold just two months after ligament damage

Oliver Wilson (UK) Golf - 792nd in the world rankings, he won his first event after 228 European Tour starts

Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award

Shelley Gautier (Canada) Cycling - has won all tricycle T1 UCI para-cycling world titles over past five years

Tatyana McFadden (US) Wheelchair Racing - won Boston, Chicago, London and New York marathons

Roman Petushkov (Russia) Nordic Skiing - first athlete to win six gold medals at a Paralympic Winter Games

Anna Schaffelhuber (Germany) Alpine Skiing - won all five Alpine gold medals at a Paralympic Winter Games

Sarah Storey (UK) Cycling - won four world titles in her first year back after giving birth to her daughter

Yuk Wing Leung (Hong Kong SAR China) Boccia - four golds at World Championships, Asian Para Games

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award

Alan Eustace (US) Skydiving - jumped 135 889ft to break Felix Baumgartner’s 2012 free fall world record

Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) Surfing - won her sixth World Surfing Championship

Nyjah Huston (US) Skateboarding - won X-Games Street gold medal with highest ever score of 95.00

Sage Kotsenburg (US) Snowboarding - won inaugural Slopestyle men’s gold medal at the Winter Olympics

Danny MacAskill (UK) Trials Cycling - rode treacherous Cuillin Ridge on Scotland’s Isle of Skye

Gabriel Medina (Brazil) Surfing - at 20, won Brazil's first ever World Surfing Championship

Read more on:    springboks  |  schalk burger  |  rugby

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