Novak Djokovic win the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award. Image: X/Twitter

Siya Kolisi’s heroic return not enough for Laureus Award

Springboks and Siya Kolisi miss out as Spain’s women’s football team, and Aitana Bonmatí shine at Laureus Awards.


Novak Djokovic win the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award. Image: X/Twitter

The 25th Laureus World Sports Awards took place in Madrid, Spain. It celebrated the greatest sporting achievements of the past year. However, it was a night of disappointment for South Africa. All four of its nominees missed out on awards.

Springboks Lose Team of the Year

The Springboks have twice won the Laureus World Team of the Year award following Rugby World Cup success. But they were overlooked this year.

The Spanish women’s football team took home the prestigious award. They claimed the World Cup in 2023 despite internal issues.

Kolisi’s Comeback Not Enough

Siya Kolisi heroically battled back from knee ligament surgery in just 130 days. He captained the Boks at the Rugby World Cup 2023. But he lost out in the Comeback of the Year category to US gymnast Simone Biles.

Biles took a two-year break due to mental health issues. She made a triumphant return in 2023, winning four gold medals at the World Championships.

Other South African Nominees Fall Short

Sailor Kirsten Neuschäfer (Action Sportsperson of the Year) and the Justice Desk Africa (Sports for Good Category) also missed out on awards. This added to South Africa’s disappointment at the event.

Djokovic and Bonmatí Shine

In other categories, Serbian tennis great Novak Djokovic won the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award for a record fifth time. Spanish playmaker Aitana Bonmatí became the first footballer named Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year.

Bellingham’s Breakthrough and Nadal’s Fundación

England’s rising football star Jude Bellingham won the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year award. He acknowledged the responsibility that comes with his growing popularity.

Spanish tennis superstar Rafa Nadal’s Fundación Rafa Nadal won the Laureus Sport for Good Award. The foundation uses sport and education to inspire young people in economically challenged communities.

These awards showcased incredible achievements across various sports. It highlighted the athletes’ dedication, resilience, and positive impact on their communities and the world.

As South Africa looks ahead, the nation’s athletes will continue striving for excellence. They draw inspiration from the success stories celebrated at the Laureus Awards.

While this year’s event didn’t bring the desired accolades for South African nominees, their commitment and ability to overcome challenges serve as a testament to the country’s sporting spirit and determination.

Full list of winners:

  • Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award: Novak Djokovic
  • Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award: Aitana Bonmatí
  • Laureus World Team of the Year Award: Spain Women’s Football Team
  • Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award: Jude Bellingham
  • Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award: Simone Biles
  • Laureus Sport for Good Award: Fundación Rafa Nadal
  • Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award: Diede de Groot
  • Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award: Arisa Trew