Rafa Nadal Foundation scoops Laureus Sport for Good award 

    Laureus Sport for Good supports over 300 programmes all over the world using the power of sport to change the lives of young people in need. The Laureus Sport for Good Award was presented to Fundación Rafa Nadal, which uses sport and education to inspire over 1,000 young people in economically challenged communities in Spain and India. Rafa Nadal accepted the honour in person on behalf of the foundation.  

    The headline news of the night was that Novak Djokovic, Aitana Bonmatí, Jude Bellingham and Simone Biles were among the big winners in Madrid as Spain was at the centre of world sport. 

    The full list of winners is: 

    Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award: Novak Djokovic 
    Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award: Aitana Bonmatí 
    Laureus World Team of the Year Award: Spain Women’s Football Team 
    Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award: Jude Bellingham 
    Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award: Simone Biles 
    Laureus Sport for Good Award: Fundación Rafa Nadal 
    Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award: Diede de Groot 
    Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award: Arisa Trew 

    On an unforgettable evening at the historic Palacio de Cibeles in the heart of Madrid, Djokovic was named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for a record-equalling fifth time. 

    Bonmatí took to the stage twice – and made history both times: firstly, to pick up Laureus Sportswoman of the Year and in doing so become the first footballer to win the prestigious Award; and again to represent the Spain team which won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand – in the same city where that side returned to celebrate last summer. The world champions are now the Laureus World Team of the Year and the first all-female team to win the Award.  

    Bellingham, too, was on familiar territory. The English midfielder won the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award – the first footballer to do so – after an electrifying start to his time with Real Madrid. Biles was honoured with the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award after a sensational return to gymnastics following a two-year hiatus.  

    Newly crowned Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Djokovic ended 2023 in possession of three of the four major titles in men’s tennis – and only missed out on a Calendar Slam after a classic Wimbledon final against eventual winner Carlos Alcaraz. The Serb is now on a record-equalling 24 Grand Slams and was in Madrid to tie another all-time record, with his fifth Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award (he won in 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2019). Like the winner of this Award in 2023, Lionel Messi, Djokovic has displayed not just sporting greatness, but a longevity at the very top of his sport that sets new standards for those who follow him.  

    “I am truly blessed to be among sports greats as a winner, but also as a supporter and admirer of Laureus Sport for Good as I too believe in the power of sport to make a difference in the world. Finally, this Laureus Statuette stands alone because it represents more than sporting achievement. The Laureus mission of using sport as a power for good has been changing lives for 25 years and embodies the values of its founding patron, Nelson Mandela. I want to add my support to Laureus Sport for Good and the work they are doing to transform lives around the world.” 

    The Awards took place a few kilometres from the Bernabeu, where Jude Bellingham has immediately become one of the figureheads of a young Madrid team that has the world at its feet. Following his summer move from Borussia Dortmund just before his 20th birthday, Bellingham scored 10 goals in his first 10 starts and has emerged as a focal point for Los Blancos. He is a leader on the pitch and a hero to the fans who fill the recently revamped stadium on matchdays – and those Madridistas who support from afar. That latter cohort includes the previous winner of the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award, Carlos Alcaraz as well as the founder of the night’s Laureus Sport for Good Award-winning programme, Rafael Nadal. 

    Simone Biles left the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, Belgium with four gold medals in her first global event since leaving the Tokyo Olympics and entering a near two-year break from the sport she had dominated. Her journey from an Olympic exit that stunned the sporting world, through a recovery that platformed the issue of mental health in elite athletics, to a triumphant comeback, has been as inspirational as anything Biles has done in competition. She is a three-time winner of Sportswoman of the Year (2017, 2019, 2020) and adds another statuette to her collection with the 2024 Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award.  

    Trew, the 13-year-old Australian skateboarding star, made history in 2023 when she became the first woman skater to land a 720 (two full rotations) in vert skateboarding in competition. It was appropriate that she did so at the Tony Hawk Vert Alert in Utah. The event’s host, Hawk, a Member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, was the first skateboarder to land the trick, back in 1985. The historic feat made her the first female skateboarder to win the Action World Sportsperson of the Year Award.    

    Diede de Groot became the second wheelchair tennis star – after Esther Vergeer’s success in 2008 and 2002 – to pick up the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award. De Groot was part of a six-strong shortlist of Nominees selected by the International Paralympic Committee. The Dutchwoman earned the Award following a historic 2023 in which she extended her run without defeat to 127 matches, claiming a third successive calendar Grand Slam – a feat unmatched in the history of tennis.  

    The Awards mark the start of a lasting relationship between Laureus and Madrid, with plans advancing to leave a legacy from the Awards to benefit young people through the work of new Laureus Sport for Good programmes in the City and Region of Madrid. Working closely with the Awards Host Partners, Madrid City Council and the Regional Government of Madrid, Laureus has committed to bringing its 24 years of experience and expertise to support the young people of Madrid and to use the power of sport to change their lives.

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