SOUTH African athlete Oscar Pistorius received the Laureus World Sportsperson with a Disability Award at a gala function in London on Monday evening.
He was recognised for his feat of becoming the first amputee to win a non-disabled World Championship track medal at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, as part of the South African 4×400 metres relay team that claimed the silver medal behind the USA.
He also made the semi-finals of the individual 400 metres in Daegu, the only South African to advance that far, after clocking a fast 45.39 seconds in the heats.
Previous South African winners
Pistorius is the third South African to be named a winner of the Laureus World Sportsperson with a Disability Award. Wheelchair racer Ernst van Dyk was honoured in 2006 and swimmer Natalie du Toit won in 2010.
He was up against stiff opposition for the title in the form of two-time Laureus winner, Dutch tennis star Esther Vergeer; five-time London Marathon wheelchair winner David Weir; Russian cross-country skier Irek Zaripov, a winner of five medals at the 2010 Winter Paralympics; Brazilian swimmer Daniel Dias, who won the Disability Award in 2009 and won seven gold medals at the 2010 IPC Paralympic Swimming World Championships; and visually impaired sprint star Terezinha Guilhermina, also of Brazil.
Pistorius was also a finalist for the World Breakthrough of the Year Award, which was won by Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy.
London Olympic Games
Known as the “Blade Runner”, because he runs on prosthetic limbs, Pistorius has long been one of the leading lights in the world of the Paralympics. Now, after his success in Daegu, he is aiming to qualify for and make his mark at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
“This is just a great privilege to be nominated, it is really humbling to be here,” said Pistorius after receiving the winner’s statuette from skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and Spanish actress Elsa Pataky.
Laureus chairman Edwin Moses praised Pistorius after his win, saying: “Oscar is a remarkable human being, one of the most impressive people I have ever met. When you think of the challenges he has faced in his life, and overcome, and gone on to break new ground, you can only be impressed.
He added: “And he is now also a Laureus Ambassador and has shown his determination to support the cause of sport for good. I congratulate him on this well-deserved award.”
The Laureus Sports Awards are the biggest awards on the international sporting calendar, with the Academy that selects the winners made up of 47 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time. They include South African adventurer/explorer Mike Horn, golf legend Gary Player, who won the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, and former Springbok captain Morné du Plessis.
This year’s Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to English football legend Sir Bobby Charlton, while Raí Souza Vieira de Oliveira, a former Brazilian footballer, now a social justice campaigner, won the Laureus Sport for Good Award.
2012 LAUREUS AWARDS WINNERS
World Sportsman of the Year: Novak Djokovic
World Sportswoman of the Year: Vivian Cheruiyot
World Team of the Year: FC Barcelona
World Breakthrough of the Year: Rory McIlroy
World Comeback of the Year: Darren Clarke
World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Oscar Pistorius
World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Kelly Slater.-Story by www.southafricaninfo.co.za