Another feather was added to Sachin Tendulkar’s crown when on February in Berlin, Germany as the iconic images of him being lifted on the shoulders of his teammates after their World Cup triumph at home in 2011 was voted the Laureus best sporting moment in the last 20 years.
The Indian cricket legend said that it was a reminder of the magic that sport can bring to our lives. With the backing of Indian cricket fans, Tendulkar’s moment got the maximum number of votes to emerge the winner.
Tendulkar, competing in his sixth and last World Cup, finally realised his lifelong dream when skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit Sri Lankan pacer Nuwan Kulasekara out of the park for a winning six. Dhoni finished it off in style, and Indian cricketers celebrated the win.
The charged-up Indian cricketers rushed to the ground, and soon they lifted Tendulkar on their shoulders and made a lap of honour. A moment etched in the minds of the fans: Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh, among others, still teary-eyed; Virat Kohli’s famous “carrying the nation on his shoulder” comment and many more magical moments followed.
Former Australian skipper Steve Waugh handed the trophy to Tendulkar on Monday after tennis legend Bros Becker announced the winner at a glittering ceremony.
“It’s incredible,” Tendulkar said after receiving the trophy. “The feeling of winning the world cup was beyond what words can express. How many times you get an event happening where there are no mixed opinions. Very rarely the entire country celebrates.”
“And this is a reminder of how powerful a sport is and what magic it does to our lives,” the cricketing legend added. “Even now when I watch that it has stayed with me,” he added.
Becker then asked Tendulkar to share the emotions he felt at that time and the Indian legend put in perspective how important it was for him to hold that trophy.
“My journey started in 1983 when I was 10 years old,” Tendulkar said. “India had won the World Cup. I did not understand the significance and just because everybody was celebrating, I also joined the party. But somewhere I knew something special has happened to the country and I wanted to experience it one day and that’s how my journey began.”
“It was the proudest moment of my life, holding that trophy which I chased for 22 years but I never lost hope,” the cricketer added. “I was merely lifting that trophy on behalf of my countrymen.”
Messi, Hamilton share honours
Also at the event, British F1 ace Lewis Hamilton and footballer Lionel Messi were declared the joint winners of the World Sportsman of the year award.
They received the same number of votes, a first in the 20-year history of the awards with the jury unable to split Hamilton and Messi.
Messi, the six-time FIFA World Player of the year, is the first team-player to bag the award. He though was not present to receive the award and sent a video message.
They pipped golfing great Tiger Woods, Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge, tennis legend Rafael Nadal and MotoGP champion Marc Marquez.
American gymnast Simone Biles who won five gold medals at the 2019 World Championships, won the World Sportswoman of the year award, her third in four years after winning it in 2017 and in 2019.
She beat a strong challenge from Jamaican sprinting great Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who missed out on the honour for the fifth time. She was nominated in 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2016 also but did not win it.
The most decorated gymnast also beat competition from American footballer Megan Rapinoe, Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, American track and field athlete Allyson Felix and skier Mikaela Shiffrin.
Snowboarding sensation Chloe Kim won the World Action Sportsperson honour, her second straight in the same category.
In the Sportsperson of the year with a disability category, Oksana Masters, born with limb impairments caused by radiation from Chernobyl and adopted by an American single parent, was recognised for an outstanding year in 2019.
She won five gold medals and a silver at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships.
South Bronx United (SBU), a football programme based in New York, was honoured with the Sport for Good Award. The programme uses football to achieve educational outcomes for young people from under-served communities.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup winners South Africa won their second Laureus World Team of the Year Award, beating Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and the US Women’s Football Team, among others.
For the 2020 Laureus World Comeback of the Year, Germany’s F3 driver Sophia Florsch was the winner.
Travelling at 276km per hour, she had lost control of her car at the Macau circuit, crashing through safety barriers and leaving her with a spinal fracture which required an 11-hour surgery and months of rehabilitation.
In November 2019, a year on from her accident, the 18-year-old Sophia was back in the cockpit, racing once again in the Macau Grand Prix.
Egan Bernal, who became the youngest rider to win the Tour de France at 22, grabbed the World Breakthrough of the Year award.
German basketball great Dirk Nowitzki was recognised at the Ceremony with the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the sport of basketball.
Spanish Basketball Federation got the Exceptional Achievement Award.