Date — 2011-02-07T21:00:00
ABU DHABI, February 7, 2011 – They say Yas Island is ‘a destination unlike any other’, and sports stars and celebrities attending the Laureus World Sports Awards found that to be true when this jewel in Abu Dhabi’s crown lit up for the Laureus Welcome Party.
The prestigious Cipriani Restaurant occupying a prime position in Yas Marina opened its doors to some of the greatest names in sport and entertainment who dined and danced long into the night.
From the huge glass windows of the restaurant it was impossible not to miss the luxury yachts bobbing gently in the harbour. And across the way could be spied the colour-changing LED shroud of the five-star Yas Hotel straddling the Yas Marina motor racing circuit, home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which this year forms the penultimate round of the Formula One World Championship.
Appropriately, former world champion and Laureus Academy Member Mika Hakkinen was one of the first guests to walk the red carpet in front of an army of photographers, reporters and television crews who had flown in from around the globe to cover the Awards.
The flashbulbs certainly popped when Golden Globe-winning actor and narrator Morgan Freeman made his grand entrance. The American took the opportunity to shake hands with tennis legend Boris Becker before saying: “It is so very nice to be here. I think the Laureus World Sports Awards are one of the most important and prestigious award ceremonies in the world. I think it is the only awards event that includes the world.
“Sports people come from everywhere, there are no limitations. There are sports figures from all over the world gathered here and I think it really points up the fact that sport is worldwide and, as Nelson Mandela says, ‘it can change the world’. Sport really can change lives.”
World Cup-winning footballer Patrick Vieira of France was star-struck, admitting: “I’m looking forward to meeting some of my idols here. But we are also here for a bigger purpose. Sport has a big role to play in our modern society. The values you find in sport are the values you find in life.”
That was a theme taken up by Olympic gold medal-winning athlete Kelly Holmes of England. She said: “It is great to have all the glitz and glamour like we have tonight, but I think the Foundation does some great work with young people. It is about inspiring them, engaging them, using role models to help do that, and also give an opportunity to lives that wouldn’t have that opportunity if it wasn’t for a Foundation like this.”
World heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko was happy to talk about his attempts at swinging a golf club rather than punches, having competed earlier in the day in the Laureus Golf Challenge, presented by Mercedes-Benz, at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.
The giant Ukrainian reported: “It was a fantastic day. The weather was amazing. We played in a group with some friends and representatives of Mercedes-Benz. Okay, we didn’t play that well, but we had fun.”
Boris Becker also tried his hand on the fairways and greens of Saadiyat. He said: “We had a spectacular golf day but it was a very difficult course. Now it’s the welcome party and we are a bit more relaxed. But next comes the big night, the Laureus World Sports Awards. I can’t wait to see who are the winners, there are many great athletes here in Abu Dhabi.”
The Laureus World Sports Awards is returning to Abu Dhabi thanks to the support of Aabar Investments PJS, who will once again be Host Partner for the event. His Excellency Khadem Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Aabar, said: “The Laureus World Sports Awards is a unique event. It was magnificent, a great success for Abu Dhabi when it was held here last March. The whole event was really superb. We will certainly try to do something special for this year’s Awards.”
Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, offers a fascinating combination of the old and the new; a blend of Arabic hospitality and mystique where a mixture of culture and tradition come together against a backdrop of the most modern world-class infrastructure. Abu Dhabi is developing a reputation as a great sporting venue as host city for the FIFA Club World Cup, the Etihad Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, all highlights of the sporting calendar in the city.
Aabar Investments PJS is an investment company headquartered in Abu Dhabi. It invests in various sectors including aerospace, real estate, automotive and financial services. Its largest stakeholder is the International Petroleum Investment Company, which is wholly owned by the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which supports 83 community sports projects around the world. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €40 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of more than one-and-a-half million young people.
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
Kobe Bryant (US, basketball)
Andres Iniesta (Spain, football)
Lionel Messi (Argentina, football)
Rafael Nadal (Spain, tennis)
Manny Pacquiao (Philippines, boxing)
Sebastian Vettel (Germany, motor racing)
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year
Kim Clijsters (Belgium, tennis)
Jessica Ennis (UK, athletics)
Blanka Vlasic (Croatia, athletics)
Lindsey Vonn (US, skiing)
Serena Williams (US, tennis)
Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark, tennis)
Laureus World Team of the Year
All Blacks (New Zealand, rugby)
European Ryder Cup Team (golf)
Inter Milan (Italy, football)
Los Angeles Lakers (US, basketball)
Red Bull Formula One Team (Austria)
Spain World Cup Team (football)
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year
Martin Kaymer (Germany, golf)
Christophe Lemaitre (France, athletics)
Matteo Manassero (Italy, golf)
Thomas Muller (Germany, football)
Louis Oosthuizen (S.Africa, golf)
Teddy Tamgho (France, athletics)
Laureus World Comeback of the Year
Paula Creamer (US, golf)
Tyson Gay (US, athletics)
Justine Henin (Belgium, tennis)
Carolina Kluft (Sweden, athletics)
Merlene Ottey (Slovenia, athletics)
Valentino Rossi (Italy, motor cycling)
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Verena Bentele (Germany, skiing/biathlon)
Matt Cowdrey (Australia, swimming)
Daniel Dias (Brazil, swimming)
Jakub Krako (Slovakia, skiing)
Esther Vergeer (Netherlands, wheelchair tennis)
Lauren Woolstencroft (Canada, skiing)
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year
Jamie Bestwick (UK, BMX)
Victor Fernandez (Spain, windsurfing)
Stephanie Gilmore (Australia, surfing)
Levi Sherwood (N.Zealand, freestyle moto-cross)
Kelly Slater (US, surfing)
Shaun White (US, snowboarding)
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