Bengaluru, Feb 2: Neeraj Chopra, India's first ever winner of an Olympic athletics gold medal, is celebrating another prestigious honour, after being selected as one of the six Nominees for the 2022 Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award.
A panel of more than 1,300 of the leading sports journalists and broadcasters in the world have selected the Nominees in each of seven categories for this year's Laureus World Sports Awards. The winners will be revealed in April, following a vote by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the world's ultimate sports jury, made up of 71 of the greatest sporting legends of all time.
Chopra, who won his gold medal in the men's javelin in Tokyo, is one of only two Indians to have won an individual Olympic gold, the other being Abhinav Bindra in air rifle in 2008. At the age of 23, he was making his Olympic debut in Tokyo. He won the gold medal with a throw of 87.58 metres in his second attempt.
He is only the third Indian athlete to be nominated for a Laureus Award, after wrestler Vinesh Phogat in 2019 and cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who won the Laureus Sporting Moment Award 2000-2020, which marked the emotional moment during the 2011 ICC World Cup, when his team carried him on their shoulders in a lap of honour after India's win.
In 2011, while Tendulkar was celebrating that victory, Chopra had just started attending a gym under pressure from his family to improve his fitness. While there he saw athletes practising and he developed an interest in the javelin. At the 2016 World Under-20 Championships he won the gold medal and his career was off and running.
Chopra said, "I'm delighted to be nominated for this Laureus Award and it's a great honour for me to be recognised in the wider sporting world for what I achieved in Tokyo. From being a kid in a small village in rural India who only took up sport to get fit, to standing on top of an Olympic podium, it's been quite an eventful journey so far. I feel privileged to be able to represent my country and win India medals at the global stage, and now to have this recognition from Laureus and be considered alongside such exceptional athletes is a really special feeling."
Also nominated with Chopra for the Breakthrough Award are Britain's Emma Raducanu, who became a global tennis sensation when she won the US Open at the age of 18, Russia's Daniil Medvedev, who won the men's title at Flushing Meadows, FC Barcelona's football prodigy Pedri, aged 19, voted best young player at the Ballon d'Or, Yulimar Rojas, who broke the 26-year-old triple jump world record, and swimmer Ariarne Titmus, aged 20, who twice beat champion Katie Ledecky at 200 and 400m in Tokyo.
The battle for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award will be one of the most competitive ever. Tom Brady, NFL's greatest quarterback, is nominated along with Bayern Munich's prolific goalscorer Robert Lewandowski, new Formula One world champion Max Verstappen, tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic, and two of the greatest Olympians: swimmer Caeleb Dressel, who won five gold medals in Tokyo, and Eliud Kipchoge, who won back-to-back marathon gold medals.
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.
Due to the ongoing limitations and uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2022 Awards will build on the success of Laureus' 2021 'virtual' Awards. The showcase event will continue to celebrate the achievement of athletes and the inspirational stories from the world of sport.
The full list of Nominees:
LAUREUS WORLD SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
Tom Brady (USA) American Football - the greatest NFL quarterback, he won a record seventh Super Bowl
Novak Djokovic (Serbia) Tennis - won three Grand Slams in 2021 to take his total of career wins to 20
Caeleb Dressel (USA) Swimming - outstanding male swimmer in Tokyo with five Olympic gold medals
Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) Athletics - became third person in history to win back-to-back Olympic marathons
Robert Lewandowski (Poland) Football - surpassed Gerd Muller's record of 40 goals in a season for Bayern
Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Motor Racing - won his first Formula One World Championship in 2021
LAUREUS WORLD SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
Ashleigh Barty (Australia) Tennis - world No.1, won Wimbledon, her second career Grand Slam
Allyson Felix (USA) Athletics - surpassed Carl Lewis as the most decorated track and field US Olympian
Katie Ledecky (USA) Swimming - won 800 and 1,500 metres freestyle golds in Tokyo, plus two silver medals
Emma McKeon (Australia) Swimming - won four gold and three bronze in Tokyo, the most by an individual
Alexia Putellas (Spain) Football - Barcelona captain; won Ballon d'Or and UEFA Women's Player of Year
Elaine Thompson-Herah (Jamaica) Athletics - won Olympic 100 and 200 metres and 4x100m relay
LAUREUS WORLD TEAM OF THE YEAR AWARD
Argentina Men's Football Team - won Copa America; Lionel Messi's first international trophy, at age of 34
Barcelona Women's Football Team (Spain) - won first Champions League, beating English club Chelsea 4-0 China Olympic Diving Team - won gold medals in seven of the eight events staged in the pool in Tokyo
Italy Men's Football Team - under Roberto Mancini won European Championship for first time since 1968 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team (Germany) - won record eighth Constructors Championship
Milwaukee Bucks (USA) Basketball - inspired by Giannis Antetokounmpo, won a second NBA championship
LAUREUS WORLD BREAKTHROUGH OF THE YEAR AWARD
Neeraj Chopra (India) Athletics - won javelin to become India's first winner of an Olympic athletics gold
Daniil Medvedev (Russia) Tennis - won his first ever Grand Slam, dropping only one set in the US Open
Pedri (Spain) Football - 19, played 53 times in 2020/21 for Barcelona, and every game for Spain in Euro 2020
Emma Raducanu (UK) Tennis - became a global sensation when she won the US Open at the age of 18
Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela) Athletics - broke 26-year-old world record to win triple jump gold in Tokyo
Ariarne Titmus (Australia) Swimming - aged 20, beat champion Katie Ledecky at 200 and 400m in Tokyo
LAUREUS WORLD COMEBACK OF THE YEAR AWARD
Simone Biles (USA) Gymnastics - after withdrawing in Tokyo, she came back to win bronze in the beam
Sky Brown (UK) Skateboarding - aged 13, recovered from fractured skull to win bronze medal in Tokyo
Mark Cavendish (UK) Cycling - fought back from depression to win second Tour de France sprint title
Tom Daley (UK) Diving - had knee surgery in June, but won 10 metres synchronised gold in Tokyo
Marc Márquez (Spain) Motor Cycling - first win in 581 days, after recovering from broken arm at start of 2020
Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) Cycling - won Olympic time trial days after missing gold in road race
LAUREUS SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR WITH A DISABILITY AWARD
Diede De Groot (Netherlands) Wheelchair Tennis - first player to complete the calendar-year Golden Slam
Marcel Hug (Switz) Wheelchair Athletics - won Paralympic gold medals in 800, 1,500, 5,000m and marathon
Shingo Kunieda (Japan) Wheelchair Tennis - host-nation hero, won fourth Paralympic gold of his career
Jetze Plat (Netherlands) Para Cycling / Para Triathlon - won three Paralympic gold medals in two sports
Susana Rodríguez (Spain) Para Triathlon - won gold in Tokyo in triathlon PTVI, her first Paralympic medal
Sarah Storey (UK) Para Cycling - won three golds from three events to take her career total to 17
LAUREUS WORLD ACTION SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD
Ítalo Ferreira (Brazil) Surfing - in Tokyo became the first-ever surfing Olympic gold medal winner
Alberto Ginés (Spain) Climbing - aged 18, scaled 15-metre wall in 6.42 seconds to win speed climbing gold
Yuto Horigome (Japan) Skateboarding - won first ever skateboarding Olympic gold to delight of host nation
Carissa Moore (USA) Surfing - won first ever women's Olympic surfing gold, then added her fifth world title
Momiji Nishiya (Japan) Skateboarding - at 13, won first-ever Olympic gold medal in women's street event
Bethany Shriever (UK) BMX - first woman to win both Olympic and World Championship gold in same year
LAUREUS SPORT FOR GOOD AWARD
Programmes nominated by a specialist selection panel; Laureus Academy select the winner
Ich Wil Da Rauf! (Germany) Climbing - disabled and non-disabled share challenge of the climbing wall
Juca pe Cagna (Italy) Multi-sport - provides safe places to play away from the influence of crime
Kick 4 Life (Lesotho) Football - supports young people through health education and HIV testing
Lost Boyz Inc (USA) Baseball - uses baseball in Chicagoto decrease violence and improve social conditions
Monkey Magic (Japan) Climbing - promotes free climbing for those with visual impairment
Source: Media Release