Sebastian Vettel took top honours last night as he was awarded the title of World Sportsman of the Year at the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The German driver has been nominated four times before without success, so the title was particularly sweet.

“When I was a young kid and started competing, I fell in love with my sport and fell in love with racing and fell in love with the fact that if you do well, at the end of the race you receive a trophy,” Vettel said.

“It’s still one of the main things that drives me today – to hold a trophy at the end of the race and to be on the podium.

“This one is not the biggest one I’ve ever received, but it’s one of the most special I have now.”

Vettel was awarded the coveted honour for being the youngest ever four-time World Champion at the tender age of 26 and 116 days.  He joins the legendary names of Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost who all won the World Championship at least four times.  Last year was particularly successful for the Formula 1 Champion as he won 13 Grand Prix, including a record nine straight victories.

Sebastian Vettel’s crowning left other superstar sportsmen in his wake, including Usain Bolt (athletics), LeBron James (basketball), Rafael Nadal (tennis), Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer) and Mo Farah (athletics).

Other athletes to be recognised include Missy Franklin, the 18 year old who won a record six gold medals in swimming  at a single World Championship.  She followed that amazing achievement by nabbing four gold at the London Olympics.  Missy’s efforts saw her match Vettel as the Sportswoman of the Year.  The German team Bayern Munich took the title of team of the year and the Spanish Marc Marquez won Breakthrough of the Year, as the youngest ever Moto GP champion at the scarily young age of 20.

The Laureus Sports Awards are the premier sporting awards of the year.  The winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, and the judging panel is made up of 46 of the ‘greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen’.  The kicker is that the proceeds from the Awards directly benefit others; Laureus has raised over 60 million Euro for projects that help empower youth.

It is fitting really that the Awards are ultimately about a good cause, as the celebrations were held in Malaysia, a country still reeling from the disappearance of the Malaysia Airline MH370.  It will be an interesting weekend in the Malaysian press given the search is still on for the full wreckage while the F1 is in town…

…Perhaps this weekend will give us something to cheer about.

Image via Spielberg 

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Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Two-time Young Australian of the Year finalist, qualified mechanical engineer, social advocate, author and 'petrol head'

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