Thursday, December 15, 2011

Liu Xiang and Li Na nominated for 2012 Laureus awards

LONDON, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- China's hurdles star Liu Xiang and tennis ace Li Na were nominated for the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards Thursday.

Liu, who became China's first male Olympic gold medalist in track and field when he clocked 12.91 seconds to win 110m hurdles in 2004, was nominated for Laureus World Comeback of the Year. His competitors for the award include French footballer Eric Abidal, American golf player Darren Clarke, Spanish golf player Sergio Garcia, New Zealand rugby team Crusaders and Australian rugby team Queensland Reds.Li Na, the first Asian player ever to win a Grand Slam in singles, was nominated for Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year, along with Jamaican athlete Yohan Blake, British runner Mo Farah, Czech tennis player Petra Kvitova, British golf player Rory Mcllroy and South African amputee athlete Oscar Pistorius.

Talking about the Chinese nominees, Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), said that he believed they are representative of Chinese sports.

"I am pleased to see Liu Xiang back after his disappointing performance at the Beijing Olympics due to injury," he said.

Liu was viewed as most hopeful in the Beijing Olympics, but withdrew from the heat due to tendon injury. This year, he staged a strong comeback by grasping a silver medal in the world championships in Osaka, Japan.

Laureus Academy member Daley Thompson, Olympic gold medalist in decathlon, said it was a pity that Liu Xiang just finished second in that competition.

"He should win the gold medal," he said. "He was unfortunate. He got a pull-back."

He hailed Liu's comeback as "fantastic". "He has good chance to win the gold medal in 2012 (Olympics)," he said.

Another Laureus Academy member Boris Becker, former World No. 1 tennis player from Germany, wished Li Na good luck in the Laureus award competition.

"She is a wonderful woman, with great character," he said. "The tennis competition in women is tough, but she stands out."

Becker noted that Li's success could be exemplary in China. "China is a big country, with millions of people. It needs a model, a winner, and a leader."

A total of 42 nominees of seven awards were announced Thursday. According to the introduction of Daley Thompson, they were picked up by 900 journalists around the world. Then 47 academy members, including Chinese legendary table tennis player Deng Yaping, will vote on the finally winners, who are to be announced on February 6 next year.