Messi competes with Nadal, Vettel for Laureus awards

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Abu Dhabi, Jan 11 (PTI) Ballon d''Or Lionel Messi will becompeting with the likes of tennis star Rafael Nadal andFormula One driver Sebastian Vettel for the 2011 Laureus WorldSportsman of the year award to be presented next month.

Argentine footballer Messi, who was last night bestowedwith the FIFA''s Ballon d''Or award for the second time in hiscareer as the world''s best player of 2010, will also have tofight it out with his Barcelona teammate Spain''s AndresIniesta, legendary Basketball player USA''s Kobe Bryant andPhilippines'' boxer Manny Pacquiao for the prestigious award.

The Laureus awards, which recognise sporting achievementduring the calendar year 2010, are considered the sportversion of ''The Oscars'' and will be unveiled during atelevised Awards Ceremony in Abu Dhabi on February 7.

World number one tennis player Nadal, who had clinchedthe Newcomer Award in 2006, would be hoping to win his secondLaureus award.

The Spanish sensation became the first man since 1969 towin the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in the same year.

The eventual winners will be chosen from the list ofnominees by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimatesports jury made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen andsportswomen of all time, the organisers said in a release.

Three-time Laureus winner Serena Williams is nominatedonce again for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Awardas she had won won two Grand Slam titles in 2010. Alsoshortlisted are two other tennis players, Belgium''s KimClijsters and Denmark''s world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki,American ski star Lindsey Vonn and athletes Jessica Ennis ofBritain and Croatian high jump sensation Blanka Vlasic.

The Laureus World Team of the Year category looks to beone of the most competitive ever. It includes the Spain WorldCup team, European Ryder Cup Team, Champions League winnersInter Milan, NBA winners Los Angeles Lakers, the Red BullFormula One Team and the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team.

Several of sport''s biggest names -- Belgian tennis starJustine Henin, Swedish golden girl Carolina Kluft and Italianmotor cycle racer Valentino Rossi -- have been nominated forthe Laureus World Comeback of the Year award.

Also nominated in this category are American golfer PaulaCreamer, track star Tyson Gay and former Jamaican athleteMerlene Ottey, who now runs for Slovenia.

"This has been a great year for sport and the Academy aregoing to find it extremely difficult to decide who to vote foras winners. We have had several massive events in 2010 --notably the FIFA World Cup and the Winter Olympics andParalympics, and that has been reflected in the nominations,"said Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses.

"There has been a host of amazing individual and teamperformances and I congratulate all the nominees and now welook forward to what should be a great awards ceremony nextmonth in Abu Dhabi," said Moses.

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