Football star Lionel Messi and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton were declared joint winners of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, while the US gymnast Simone Biles won her third women’s title.
The Argentinian forward and British Mercedes driver won the same number of votes from fans worldwide sharing the men’s award for the first time in the event’s 20-year history.
Messi, a six-time Ballon d’Or winner, became the first football player to get the award after steering Barcelona to its 26th Spanish league title, while Hamilton won his sixth Formula One championship in 2019.
“I have been inspired by so many of you,” said Hamilton, who was handed the award by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger at a ceremony in the German capital, Berlin on Monday evening.
Messi did not travel to Berlin for the prize but sent a video message.
"I am honoured to be the first to win this award being a sportsperson coming from a team sport."
— Laureus (@LaureusSport) February 17, 2020
The Laureus World Sports Awards are the only worldwide awards event to recognise the best athletes of the past year in various categories.
Simone Biles, 22, who became the most decorated gymnast in world championship history when she won her 25th medal last year, won her third Sportswoman of the Year gong after previously winning the award in 2017 and 2019.
The South African rugby team, which won the World Cup in Japan last year for the third time in history, were crowned Team of the Year, beating European football champions Liverpool and women’s football World Cup winners the United States.
Former Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, the highest scorer of all time in international cricket, had the support of a cricket-crazy nation to win a fan vote for the award for the Best Sporting Moment from the last two decades.
In 2011, in his sixth and final World Cup appearance, Tendulkar led India to its first win on home soil and second overall.
Sportsman of the Year: Lewis Hamilton and Lionel Messi
Sportswoman of the Year: Simone Biles
Team of the Year: South Africa Men’s Rugby Team
Breakthrough of the Year: Egan Bernal
Comeback of the Year: Sophia Floersch
Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Oksana Masters
Action Sportsperson of the Year: Chloe Kim
Best Sporting Moment: Sachin Tendulkar
Lifetime Achievement Award: Dirk Nowitzki
Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award: Spanish Basketball Federation
Laureus Sport for Good Award: South Bronx United