Max Verstappen received the “Sports Oscar”. He is the first Dutch sportsman to win this prestigious award. The Dutchman was named Sportsman of the Year at the Laureus Awards in Seville. Esther Vergeer was the first Dutch sportswoman to win a Laureus Award in 2002 and 2008.
Verstappen, 24, received the “Oscar” for his world title in Formula 1. He became champion last year by winning the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi. He overtook seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton on the very last lap.
Verstappen had American swimmer Caeleb Dressel, Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, Polish soccer player Robert Lewandowski and American soccer legend Tom Brady competing in this category. Last year, the award went to Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal.
Verstappen is the fourth Formula 1 driver to win the Best Sportsman Oscar. His current rival Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel preceded him. “I would like to thank everyone at the Laureus Acadamy who voted for me, but it’s not just about me. I have a whole team behind me working hard to make two cars perform and give me the chance to win the championship,” Verstappen said in a previously recorded comment. The Limburger also won the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday.
Cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten was lucky enough to win a Laureus Award for “comeback of the year”, but the Olympic time trial champion missed out on the Oscar in that category. The prize was awarded to Canadian skateboarder Sky Brown.
Wheelchair tennis player Diede de Groot and hand cyclist Jetze Plat were nominated in the category “disabled athletes”. But the prize went to Swiss wheelchair athlete Marcel Hug, who won four gold medals at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Former wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer remains the only Dutch sportswoman with an Oscar. She won the Laureus Award for Best Disabled Sportswoman in 2002 and 2008.
Jamaican athlete Elaine Thompson-Herah received the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award. The sprint star won three gold medals at the Tokyo Games: in the 100, 200 and 4×100 metres. Italy, European football champions, have been named sports team of the year.