LONDON--(Marketwire - Jan 18, 2012) - The winners of the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards, the premier honors on the international sporting calendar, will be announced at the Awards Ceremony in the heart of London at Central Hall, Westminster, on the evening of Monday, February 6. The event is a rare chance to see the best of the sporting world collide to salute the finest sports performances of the year. Among the nominees are seven U.S. athletes/teams: Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelita Jeter, the Dallas Mavericks, Carissa Moore, Travis Rice, Kelly Slater and Shaun White (full list below).

The Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury composed of 47 of the greatest athletes in the world, will select the winners. The red carpet will sizzle with global figures from sport and Hollywood that have included David and Victoria Beckham, Sean Connery, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Morgan Freeman, Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey in past years. Previous Award winners include: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Ronaldo, Michael Schumacher and Serena Williams.

At the inaugural Awards Ceremony in 2000, Nelson Mandela, the patron of Laureus, said, "Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where there was previously only despair."

This is the core philosophy of Laureus and the driving force behind its work. The organization is one of the world's apolitical leaders in sport for social change. Laureus combines the Laureus World Sports Awards, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Laureus World Sports Academy, which collectively form a unique international sports organization that uses the inspirational power of sport as a force for good.

The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is a global leader in research, expertise and best practice in supporting grassroots programs around the world. The members of the Laureus World Sport Academy volunteer their time to act as the driving force for the Laureus charity. Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports 91 community sports projects across the globe (including projects in the U.S.).

The full list of nominees for the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards is:

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
Usain Bolt (Jamaica) Athletics - two gold medals in World Athletics Championships in Daegu
Novak Djokovic (Serbia) Tennis - won Australian, Wimbledon and U.S. Open Grand Slams
Cadel Evans (Australia) Cycling - winner of the Tour de France
Lionel Messi (Argentina) Football - FC Barcelona's star player, scored 53 goals in 2010/2011 season
Dirk Nowitzki (Germany) Basketball - first European to be named MVP at NBA Finals
Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Motor Racing - won second straight F1 World Championship at 24

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year
Vivian Cheruiyot (Kenya) Athletics - won World Championship 5K & 10K and cross-country title
Maria Höfl-Riesch (Germany) Alpine Skiing - beat Lindsey Vonn to win overall World Cup
Carmelita Jeter (U.S.) Athletics - won 100m and 4 x 100m relay gold medals in World Championships
Petra Kvitova (Czech) Tennis - won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon, plus WTA Championship
Homare Sawa (Japan) Football - won Golden Ball and Golden Boot in FIFA World Cup
Yani Tseng (Taiwan) Golf - at 22, won two golf majors and headed LPGA money list by over $1 million.

Laureus World Team of the Year
All Blacks (N.Zealand) Rugby - won 2011 Rugby World Cup in their own country
FC Barcelona (Spain) Football - won Champions League and Spanish League in 2010/2011
Dallas Mavericks (U.S.) Basketball - won their first ever NBA Championship
England Cricket Team - became world No. 1 after Ashes win in Australia, beating India 4-0
Japan Women's Football Team - became first Asian team to win FIFA Women's World Cup
Red Bull (Austria) Motor Racing - won second straight F1 Constructors' World Championship

Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year
Yohan Blake (Jamaica) Athletics - at 21, won 100m gold medal in World Championships
Mo Farah (UK) Athletics - winner of the 5,000 metres gold medal in the World Championships
Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) Tennis - at 21, won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon
Rory McIlroy (UK) Golf - at 22, won U.S. Open, his first Major Championship
Li Na (China) Tennis - won French Open to become China's first ever Grand Slam winner
Oscar Pistorius (SA) Athletics - first amputee to win track medal in non-disabled World Championships

Laureus World Comeback of the Year
Eric Abidal (France) Football - beat cancer to play in winning Barcelona Champions League team
Darren Clarke (UK) Golf - at 42, recovered from slump in form to win Open Championship
Crusaders (NZ) Rugby - despite Christchurch earthquake, Crusaders reached final of Super 15
Sergio Garcia (Spain) Golf - won two European Tour events, after three years without a victory
Liu Xiang (China) Athletics - after 2008 Olympic disappointment, won silver in World Championships
Queensland Reds (Australia) Rugby - won Super 15 rugby despite floods in Queensland

Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Daniel Dias (Brazil) Swimming - won 11 gold medals in 11 events at Parapan Games
Terezinha Guilhermina (Brazil) Athletics - won 4 gold medals in IPC World Championships
Oscar Pistorius (SA) Athletics - first amputee to win track medal in non-disabled World Championships
Esther Vergeer (Netherlands) Wheelchair Tennis - unbeaten in singles for more than eight years
David Weir (UK) Wheelchair Athletics - won 3 gold medals in IPC World Championships
Irek Zaripov (Russia) Nordic Skiing - won 6 medals in IPC World Skiing Championships

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year
Jamie Bestwick (UK) BMX - came back from fractured skull to win 5th straight X Games gold
Philip Köster (Germany) Windsurfing - became PWA Wave World Champion at 17
Carissa Moore (U.S.) Surfing - won her first World Surfing Championship at 19
Travis Rice (U.S.) Snowboarding - takes on the world's most intimidating descents
Kelly Slater (U.S.) Surfing - won 11th World Surfing Championship at 39
Shaun White (U.S.) Skateboarding/Snowboarding - won Winter and Summer X Games gold

About Laureus
Laureus ( comprises the Laureus World Sports Academy, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Laureus World Sports Awards. Collectively, these three elements form the essence of Laureus, harnessing the power of sport to promote social change and celebrating sporting excellence. Laureus celebrates the universal power of sport to bring people together as a force for good, passionately embodying the very spirit of sport -- the pursuit of excellence, overcoming challenges, celebrating achievement and excellence, and winning against the odds.

Editorial Note: Interview opportunities with nominees and Academy members available upon request

Contact Information:

Media Contact:
Adam Landres-Schnur or Ruchika Jain
Graham & Associates
(415) 986-7212