Nadal pips Messi to bag Laureus ''World Sportsman of the Year''

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Poonam Mehra

Abu Dhabi, Feb 7 (PTI) Tennis ace Rafael Nadal pippedstar footballers Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta to clinch the''World Sportsman of the Year'', while the World Cup winningSpanish football side expectedly walked away with the ''WorldTeam of the Year'' trophy at the Laureus World Sports Awardsnight here today.

The ''World Sportswoman of the Year'' honour went toAmerican alpine skiier Lindsey Vonn, who beat off competitionfrom Belgian tennis ace Kim Clijsters, who won a secondstraight US Open and four other events last year, SerenaWilliams, and world number one tennis player CarolineWozniacki among others.

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

World number one Nadal -- who completed a career slamlast year by clinching the US Open, French Open and theWimbledon to go with his 2009 Australian Open triumph --walked away with the top honours by pipping pre-awardsfavourites Messi and Iniesta.

It was Nadal''s second Laureus Award after the LaureusBreakthrough Award in 2006.

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

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

American Kelly Slater was presented with the ''LaureusAction Sports Award'' for the third time, after winning arecord 10th World Surfing Championship. Young golfer MartinKaymer was presented with the ''Laureus World Breakthrough ofthe Year Award'' after winning the US PGA Championship.

Visually impaired skier and biathlete Verena Bentelepicked up the ''Laureus Disability Award'' after capturing fivegold medals in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award went toItaly''s seven-time motor cycle world champion Valentino Rossi,who returned to the track just 41 days after breaking his leg.

The winners were voted by the Laureus World SportsAcademy made up of 46 legendary sportspersons and the entireceremony was hosted by double Oscar winner actor Kevin Spacey.

At the Awards Ceremony it was announced that Australianfive-time motor cycle 500cc world champion Mick Doohan andfive-time Olympic rowing gold medallist Steve Redgrave havebeen elected to the Laureus World Sports Academy. .

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