Wed, May 24, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Federer and Kostelic win vaunted Laureus awards

STARS Roger Federer won the award for the second year in a row, while Croatian skier Janica Kostelic received the women's trophy. Martina Hingis won the comeback award

AFP , BARCELONA, SPAIN

Switzerland's Roger Federer, winner of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award, kisses the trophy at the Laureus World Sports Awards held at the Parc del Forum in Barcelona on Monday.

PHOTO: AFP

Swiss tennis superstar Roger Federer was named Laureus World Sportsman of the year for the second consecutive year on Monday with the women's honor going to Croatian skier Janica Kostelic.

The 24-year-old Federer won the vote of the 42 Laureus Academy members ahead of other nominees such as another two-time winner US golfer Tiger Woods, Spanish F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho and seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

The 23-year-old Kostelic edged out the UK's world marathon champion Paula Radcliffe, Russian pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva, Swedish heptathlete Carolina Kluft and Belgian tennis player Kim Clijsters.

There were awards also for Martina Hingis who took the Laureus Comeback of the Year recompense, Spanish tyro Rafael Nadal who was named Newcomer of the Year and the French Formula One Constructors Champions Renault who won Team of the Year.

Federer was present in Barcelona to accept his reward flying in from Paris where he is preparing for next week's French Open.

"It's a very proud moment for me and a very emotional moment. Winning it for a second time in a row is something special," he said paying tribute to Woods and Michael Schumacher the only other two times winners of the award.

The world No.1 has won the last three Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon, the US Open last year and this year's Australian Open. A win in the final at Roland Garros on June 11 will make him the first man since Australian legend Rod Laver in the 1960's to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

He also won nine other tournaments last year and continued in similar fashion this year by winning back-to-back Masters titles at Indian Wells and Miami before losing a five-set marathon to Nadal in Rome earlier this month.

Paying tribute to Federer, John McEnroe said that he was the outstanding tennis player of this generation.

"In fact he is probably the outstanding individual sportsman of this generation across all sports. Maybe only Tiger Woods of the sportsmen who are competing today week-in, week-out is on a par with him," Mc Enroe said.

"He has already won seven Grand Slams at the age of 24. Other tennis players will come along to challenge him, but I think if he keeps healthy and keeps his appetite for the game he could break Pete Sampras's record of 14 Grand Slams," he said.

Kostelic became the first woman to win four Alpine skiing gold medals after her victory in the women's combined event at February's Winter Olympics in Turin.

Once again she had to overcome injury and illness to triumph having been forced to pull out of the Olympic downhill because she was unwell.

Four years ago she won three gold medals at the Salt Lake City Olympics after fighting back from three knee operations in 12 months.

Kostelic was non-committal abour her future and whether she would still be competing at the Vancouver Olympics in four years time saying only: "I am not thinking about that too much right now. I need a little rest and I will decide what I can do after that."

Renault won the team award ahead of such as Champions League titleholders and Spanish football champions Barcelona, the winning Croatian Davis Cup team and last year's European soccer Champions Liverpool.

Top driver Fernando Alonso at 24 became the youngest-ever world champion as the French-based team ended the long winning run of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher.

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