Nadal bags Laureus ''World Sportsman of the Year''

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Poonam Mehra

Abu Dhabi, Feb 7 (PTI) Tennis ace Rafael Nadal''s remarkablerun in the season gone by helped him pip star footballersLionel Messi and Andres Iniesta for the ''World Sportsman ofthe Year'' honour, while the World Cup winning Spanish footballside walked away with the ''World Team of the Year'' trophy atthe Laureus World Sports Awards here today.

The ''World Sportswoman of the Year'' award went to Americanalpine skiier Lindsey Vonn, who beat off competition fromBelgian tennis ace Kim Clijsters, who won a second straight USOpen and four other events last year, Serena Williams, andworld number one tennis player Caroline Wozniacki amongothers.

Vonn had secured her third straight skiing World Cup andthe Olympic Downhill gold medal last year.

World number one Nadal -- who completed a career slam lastyear by clinching the US Open, French Open and the Wimbledonto go with his 2009 Australian Open triumph -- walked awaywith the top honours by pipping pre-awards favourites Messiand Iniesta.

It was Nadal''s second after the Laureus Breakthrough Awardin 2006.

"Thank you very much for this," said the star who receivedthe trophy from German tennis legend Boris Becker.

The Spanish celebrations did not end at that as their WorldCup winning football side clinched the ''Team of the Year''honour ahead of Europe''s Ryder Cup-winning team and theItalian football club Inter Milan -- which had won the trebleof Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia last year --among others.

The Spanish team, however, could not make it to the awardsceremony because of training engagements for an internationalmatch.

French football legend Zinedine Zidane was presented the''Lifetime Achievement'' award "in recognition of his remarkablecareer.

The ace midfielder walked in to a standing ovation from thegathering and received the trophy from legendary Moroccanathlete Nawal El Moutawakel and English football legend SirBobby Charlton.

"Thank you to all those who voted for me. I have to thank(former France teammate) Marseille Desailly for all that hedid for me. Today is February 7 and it has been 20 years sinceI got married, it''s a special day for me," Zidane said inFrench, insisting speaking in English would be "too difficult"for him.

American Kelly Slater was presented with the ''LaureusAction Sports Award'' for the third time, after winning arecord 10th World Surfing Championship. .

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