Max Verstappen first Dutchman to win "Oscar for sport"
Max Verstappen has been honored with the "Oscar for sport." He is the first Dutch sportsman to win this prestigious award. The Dutchman was named Sportsman of the Year at the presentation of the Laureus Awards in Seville. Esther Vergeer was the first Dutch sportswoman to win a Laureus Award in 2002 and 2008.
The 24-year-old Verstappen received the "Oscar" for his world title in Formula 1. He became champion last year by winning the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. He overtook seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton, on the very last lap.
Verstappen had competition in this category from American swimmer Caeleb Dressel, Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, Polish football player Robert Lewandowski, and American football legend Tom Brady. Last year, the prize went to Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal.
Verstappen is the fourth Formula 1 driver to win the Oscar for the best sportsman. His current rival Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, and Sebastian Vettel preceded him. "I would like to thank everyone from the Laureus Acadamy who voted for me, but it is 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 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna on Sunday.
Cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten had a chance to win a Laureus Award for the "comeback of the year," but the Olympic time trial champion missed the Oscar for that category. The award went to Canadian skateboarder Sky Brown.
Wheelchair tennis player Diede de Groot and hand biker Jetze Plat were nominated for the category "athletes with a disability." But the award went to Swiss wheelchair athlete Marcel Hug, who won four golds at the Paralympics in Tokyo. Former wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer remains the only Dutch sportswoman with an Oscar. She won the Laureus Award for Best Sportswoman with a disability in 2002 and 2008.
Jamaican athlete Elaine Thompson-Herah received the Laureus Award for Best Sportswoman of the Year. The sprint star won three golds at the Tokyo Games: in the 100, 200, and 4x100 meters. European football champion Italy was named sports team of the year.
Reporting by ANP