Brazilian swimmer Daniel Dias won the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award on Monday (11 March) after winning six individual gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, all in world-record times.
It is the second time Dias has won the award. He last received it four years ago after an equally impressive performance at the Beijing Paralympics, when he won four gold medals, four silver and a bronze.
Still just 24, Dias set the pool on fire in London and he will be one of the home favourites to win more gold medals when the 2016 Paralympic Games are held in Rio.
Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “I offer Daniel my most sincere congratulations on winning his second Laureus Award. His record is absolutely phenomenal. His success in Beijing was exceptional and then he followed that up in London. It is amazing to think what he may be able to achieve in the future. All of Brazil should be proud of this remarkable young man. I would also like to congratulate him on the great work he does in Brazil to promote disability sport.”
Laureus World Sports Academy Member and Olympic swimming legend Mark Spitz said: “Daniel is a great inspiration for the Paralympics and for swimming, for that matter. It’s quite incredible what the Paralympics does for athletes.”
Other finallists for the award included: Canadaian wheelchair basketball player Patrick Anderson, British wheelchair racer David Weir, Italian handcyclist Alex Zanardi, Brazilian sprinter Alan Oliveira and Namibian track star Johanna Benson.
The Laureus World Sports Awards are the premiere honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen. The Laureus Awards Ceremony, held in the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, was hosted by Hollywood stars Morgan Freeman and Eva Longoria.
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports more than 140 community sports projects in 34 countries around the world, including three in Rio de Janeiro. Since its inception, Laureus has raised 60 million Euro for projects which have improved the lives of more than one-and-a-half million young people.
The Awards were announced in seven categories. The full list of winners is:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Usain Bolt
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Jessica Ennis
Laureus World Team of the Year: European Ryder Cup Team
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Andy Murray
Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Felix Sanchez
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Daniel Dias
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Felix Baumgartner
There were two additional Awards: The Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the Organising Committee of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and the newly created Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award was presented to Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time.