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Paris (AFP) – The Argentine Lionel Messi was doubly rewarded at the Laureus Awards gala, this Monday in Paris, when he received the award for best athlete and best team of the year, the latter together with his teammates from the world champion team of the albiceleste the last December. Also honored was athlete Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 100m world champion for the fifth time last year.
Messi, 35, is the first to win two prizes in the same edition of the Laureus, the organizers highlighted.
“It is an honor, even greater because the Laureus Awards take place this year in Paris, the city that has welcomed me and my family since we arrived in 2021. I thank all my teammates, not just those of the national team national, but also to those of PSG. I wouldn’t have achieved anything alone and I’m glad to be able to share all this with them,” Messi said.
The PSG attacker, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, had already won the Laureus Award for best sportsman of the year in 2020, but then he had shared it with the British Lewis Hamilton, seven-time Formula 1 world champion.
“It is the first time that I am the sole winner of the Laureus award for best sportsman of the year. And it is after a year in which we finally got another trophy that we had been waiting for a long time, the FIFA World Cup in Qatar”, highlighted Messi .
“For us, the World Cup was an unforgettable adventure. I can’t explain what I felt when I returned to Argentina and saw what our victory had meant for the people. It’s an experience I’ll never forget,” he said.
The Argentine, who returned to training with Paris Saint-Germain on Monday after six days suspended from employment and salary for an unauthorized promotional trip to Saudi Arabia, attended the ceremony in central Paris with his wife Antonela Roccuzzo.
The awards gala marked a parenthesis at a somewhat delicate moment for him, due to his recent suspension at PSG and the booing recently heard from team fans. The player from Rosario ends his contract in June and seems closer to an exit to a new destination than to a renewal, according to concurring sources.
Messi had among his rivals for the individual Laureus award his clubmate Kylian Mbappé, a member of France, world runner-up and defeated by Argentina in the Qatar 2022 final.
Fraser-Pryce and Alcaraz, also rewarded
Jamaican athlete Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 100m world champion for the fifth time last year in Eugene (United States), was awarded as the best athlete of the year.
“This is the sixth time I’ve been nominated in this category, so finally seeing the Laureus statuette in my hands is one of the greatest honors of my career,” said the 36-year-old veteran sprinter.
The Spanish tennis player Carlos Alcaraz, champion of the United States Open in 2022 – becoming the youngest world number one in history – was awarded revelation of the year. For his part, Danish footballer Christian Eriksen was rewarded Most Outstanding Comeback for resuming his senior career in English football after going into cardiac arrest during a Euro 2021 match.
This year’s prize list also includes the Swiss marathon runner Catherine Debrunner (best athlete with a disability), the double Olympic skiing champion freestyle Chinese-American Eileen Gu (extreme sport category) and the TeamUp program, which uses physical activity to help reduce stress in refugee children and is represented by Polish FC Barcelona footballer Robert Lewandowski.
The Laureus trophies have been awarded every year since 2000 by the Laureus Academy, through a jury made up of 71 great sports legends.
The 2023 ceremony was the first organized in person since 2020, after two virtual editions due to restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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