Another feather in the cap for host city Abu Dhabi

Whether it's holding big sports events successfully or promoting sports and games in a grand manner, Abu Dhabi has earned an impeccable reputation for efficiency and innovativeness. The capital city of United Arab Emirates has come to be recognised as an ideal venue for conducting several high profile tournaments.

The Abu Dhabi tennis tournament, cricket series and the forthcoming Formula One race are proof enough of the city's growing clout in building sporting infrastructure in quick time. Even the former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker praised Abu Dhabi's overall rapid growth.

So, when the red carpet is rolled out at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards function at the Emirates Palace Hotel here on March 10 (Wednesday), to be attended by a galaxy of Hollywood stars including Kevin Spacey, Hugh Grant, Clive Owen, Kyle MacLachlan and famous sportsmen and women, it will be yet another feather in Abu Dhabi's cap.

“Sport is the Gulf region is huge, and is getting better and better,” said Edwin Moses, Chairman, Laureus Sports Academy, at a press conference here on Tuesday.

Biggest turnout

“We have the biggest turnout in terms of names in sports. We have 30 Academy members here which is the second biggest turnout ever. We are glad and proud to be here. I thank the Abu Dhabi Sports Council for a fantastic event.”

Moses emphasised the Laureus Academy's primary social objective. “We want to use sport as a tool for change. There has been tremendous change in the last three years.

“Starting with six projects, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation supports almost 80 projects worldwide. We have 46 Academy members now. We started with 28.

“It (selection of sportsmen and women) is totally an open process. The top five in each category are given to the Academy members who make the decision.”

The former 400m hurdles champion said holding the awards here in Abu Dhabi will definitely give a boost to the UAE and the entire Gulf region. “We want to inspire the youth and athletes from this region,” he said.

With the award nominees like Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, Usain Bolt, Lance Armstrong, Jenson Button and Lionel Messi reportedly expressing their unavailability to come for the function, the Awards show definitely would lose its lustre, but the organisers are confident of putting up a fabulous show as they have always done.

The list of nominees for the 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards:

World Sportsman of the year: Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia, athletics), Usain Bolt (Jamaica, athletics), Roger Federer (Switzerland, tennis), Lionel Messi (Argentina, football), Valentino Rossi (Italy, motor cycling).

World Sportswoman of the year: Shelly-Ann Fraser (Jamaica, athletics), Federica Pellegrini (Italy, swimming), Sanya Richards (US, athletics), Britta Steffen (Germany, swimming), Lindsey Vonn (US, skiing), Serena Williams (US, tennis).

World team of the year: Barcelona FC (Spain, football), Brawn GP Formula One team (UK), Germany women's football team, Los Angeles Lakers (US, basketball), New York Yankees (US, baseball), South Africa rugby team.

World Breakthrough of the year: Jenson Button (UK, motor racing), Mark Cavendish (UK, cycling), Tom Daley (UK, diving), Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina, tennis), Jai Yai Shin (South Korea, golf), VFL Wolfsburg (Germany, football).

World Comeback of the year: Lance Armstrong (US, cycling), Kim Clijsters (Belgium, tennis), Jessica Eennis (UK, athletics), Brett Favre (US, American football), Blanka Vlasic (Croatia, athletics), Tom Watson (US, golf).

World Sportsperson of the year with a disability: Justin Eveson (Australia, wheelchair basketball), Kurt Fearnley (Australia, wheelchair racing), Gizen Girismen (Turkey, Para-Archery), Shingo Kunieda (Japan, wheelchair tennis), Michael Teuber (Germany, cycling), Natalie du Toit (South Africa, swimming).

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