South African Initiative Nominated For Laureus Sport For Good Award!
Photo Cred: Laureus World Sports Awards | Supplied

Rugby World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi, the Springboks, solo sailor Kirsten Neuschȁfer and Justice Desk Africa have been shortlisted, as South Africa received FOUR Nominations in the Laureus World Sports Awards 2024.


Global (26 February 2024) – South African sport is celebrating after receiving four nominations for the Laureus World Sports Awards 2024 – the most prestigious honours in sport – following a vote by the world’s media.

The Springboks are nominated for this year’s Laureus World Team of the Year Award following their momentous World Cup triumph over New Zealand in October. The captain of that side, Siya Kolisi, is nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award, after recovering from a partial ligament tear to lead the Springboks to glory. Kirsten Neuschȁfer is shortlisted for the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award, marking her extraordinary achievement of becoming the first female to win a solo round-the-world race via the three Great Capes. Rounding off the South African Nominees is Justice Desk Africa, a group in the running for the Laureus Sport for Good Award.

Six Nominees have been selected in each category, and the names of the Winners will be revealed on April 22, following a vote by the Laureus World Sports Academy – the world’s ultimate sports jury, made up of 69 of the greatest sporting legends of all time.

In October, the Springboks became the first to win four Rugby World Cups by overcoming New Zealand 12-11 at the Stade de France. In a performance which epitomised the fighting spirit now synonymous with the side, the Springboks capped an outstanding tournament during which they battled past hosts France, and England, on their way to claiming back-to-back world titles.

Laureus World Sports Awards 2024 Nominees Announced - South African Representatives Feature in 4 Categories!
Photo Cred: Laureus World Sports Awards 2024 | Supplied

The Springboks are in contention for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award, alongside the Spain Women’s Football Team, who won their first World Cup; treble-winners Manchester City; the European Ryder Cup Team, following their dominant victory over their American counterparts; the all-conquering Oracle Red Bull Racing Team, who delivered a second straight Formula One World Constructors’ Championship, and the Germany Men’s Basketball Team for their incredible FIBA Basketball World Cup victory.

The shortlist for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award, and Sportsman of the Year, contain not only the outstanding athletes of 2023, but some of the greatest of all time. Last year’s winner, Lionel Messi, is nominated once more in the latter category after an eighth Ballon d’Or, alongside sportsmen including Novak Djokovic, who won three Grand Slams in 2023, Max Verstappen after a third straight world championship in Formula One and Noah Lyles, world champion over 100 and 200 metres, plus the 4×100 metre relay. In the Sportswoman of the Year category, the Nominees include tennis’s World No.1 Iga Świątek, Aitana Bonmatí, the star of Spain’s FIFA World Cup win, and Mikaela Shiffrin, who became the all-time leader in World Cup wins in alpine skiing.

Siya Kolisi’s part in the Springboks’ success was even more remarkable due to the individual obstacles he had to overcome on the journey to that crowning moment. After a partial tear of his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in April 2023, Kolisi’s World Cup dream appeared to be over. However, unwilling to accept his fate, he underwent surgery before embarking on a punishing programme of physical rehabilitation and, just 119 days after the operation, Kolisi led his side out in their tournament opener against Scotland.

Laureus World Sports Awards 2024 Nominees Announced - South African Representatives Feature in 4 Categories!
Photo Cred: Laureus World Sports Awards 2024 | Supplied

He has been nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award, alongside gymnast Simone Biles, who collected four gold medals at the World Championships after taking time away from the spotlight to prioritise her mental health; Sébastien Haller, the Borussia Dortmund striker who returned to the pitch just months after being diagnosed with testicular cancer; Denver Nuggets basketball star, Jamal Murray, who spent 18 months on the sidelines with an ACL tear before shining in the NBA playoffs; Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who bravely battled back from a series of injuries to win a heptathlon world title in Budapest, and tennis sensation Markéta Vondroušová, who became the lowest-ranked winner at Wimbledon during the Open era after missing most of the previous year with a wrist injury.

Siya Kolisi said: “This is such an overwhelming moment for me – to be nominated with the Springboks for Laureus Team of the Year, and also individually for Comeback of the Year. I know just what it means to win a Laureus Award. I was lucky enough to be captain of the Springboks in 2019 when we won the World Cup, and as a result the following year we won Laureus Team of the Year. I’m hoping we can win it again, as always it is a formidable group of teams nominated this year, including Manchester City, Spain’s Women’s World Cup winners and Oracle Red Bull Racing. It was a close thing whether I would recover from injury in time to play in the Rugby World Cup. I made it, so it’s a very special personal moment for me to receive my nomination.”

The Golden Globe Race is one-of-a-kind, restricting its solo sailors to technology from no later than 1968. For most competitors, this challenge is big enough. Kirsten Neuschȁfer, however, is not like most competitors. she diverted midway through her own race to rescue fellow competitor, Tapio Lehtinen, whose boat had sunk, before eventually crossing the finishing line after more than 235 days at sea to complete a thrilling adventure.

Laureus World Sports Awards 2024 Nominees Announced - South African Representatives Feature in 4 Categories!
Photo Cred: Laureus World Sports Awards 2024 | Supplied

Her awe-inspiring achievements have been recognised in her nomination for the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award. She features alongside BMX cyclist Beth Shriever, who reclaimed her world title at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow, while surfing duo Filipe Toledo and Caroline Marks are also nominated for their respective World Surf League triumphs. Street skateboarder Rayssa Leal is a Nominee for the second straight year after winning three major titles in a wonderful season. She is joined on the shortlist by 13-year-old Arisa Trew, who became the first woman skater to land a 720 (two full rotations) in vert skateboarding.

Nominees for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award include Jude Bellingham, who began his Real Madrid career with 10 goals in 10 starts; Coco Gauff, who won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open, at the age of 19, and Qin Haiyang, who swept the breaststroke events (50, 100 and 200 metres) at the World Aquatics Championships.

Each year the Laureus Sport for Good Award recognises a community sports-based programme which has helped to improve the lives of young people and bring communities together. Five inspirational and transformational programmes have been shortlisted by a specialist selection panel.

Laureus World Sports Awards 2024 Nominees Announced - South African Representatives Feature in 4 Categories!
Photo Cred: Laureus World Sports Awards 2024 | Supplied

The shortlist for this Award includes Justice Desk Africa, a programme based in Cape Town that empowers young people in South Africa to understand and defend their human rights. This vital project provides girls with essential mental health support, as well as self-defence classes and leadership sessions. The shortlist also features Bola Pra Frente, a programme using sport to develop life skills and empower youth in communities in Rio de Janeiro; Fundación Rafa Nadal, which uses sport and education to empower vulnerable young people in Spain and India, and Dancing Grounds, a New Orleans-based programme that connects dance and creativity with social justice issues. The nominations are completed by the ISF Cambodia, which aims to provide a route out of poverty in urban slums and rural communities, and Obiettivo Napoli, which works with over 100 boys and girls facing exclusion and economic difficulties in the Italian city.

The full list of Nominees is:

Laureus World Sports Awards 2024 Nominees Announced - South African Representatives Feature in 4 Categories!
Photo Cred: Laureus World Sports Awards 2024 | Supplied

Sources: Laureus World Sports Awards 2024
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