Laureus World Sport Awards: Max Verstappen battling Lionel Messi and many more huge names

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen smiling underneath his helmet. Bahrain, February 2023.

Max Verstappen smiling underneath his helmet. Bahrain, February 2023.

Max Verstappen has a chance to retain his title after he was again nominated for Sportsman of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Awards.

The Dutchman is one of six athletes nominated for this year’s award and Verstappen could make it two from two having picked up the accolade in 2022 for his heroics in the 2021 title fight against Lewis Hamilton.

Should Verstappen win the 2023 award, he will become the fourth athlete to win consecutive awards, joining Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Usain Bolt and Novak Djokovic on the list.

Verstappen faces tough competition though with big names such as Lionel Messi and Rafa Nadal on the list. Here are the six candidates for the award and why they are on the list:

Kylian Mbappe (football)

Arguably the hottest property in all of sport with the French star Kylian Mbappe again enjoying a stellar year. He scored eight goals in the 2022 World Cup including a hat-trick in the final against Argentina but it was not enough for him to win the trophy as his home country missed out on penalties.

For his club side, Mbappe set a Ligue 1 record by finding top scorer and top assist provider for PSG.

Lioenl Messi (football)

Almost certainly Verstappen’s toughest opponent on the list with one of the greatest football players of all time achieving the ultimate goal of winning the World Cup.

A World Cup win was the only trophy that had eluded Messi in his glittering career but he captained Argentina to victory in Qatar last December, defeating France on penalties in a memorable final during which Messi scored two goals.

As well as the trophy itself, Messi picked up the Golden Ball handed out to the player of the tournament.

Max Verstappen (Formula 1)

In terms of dominance, no one had a finer year than Verstappen who won a record 15 races in a single F1 season. If his first title win in 2021 was a constant battle against Hamilton, his second was a far easier affair.

Overcoming a poor start which had many believing both World Championships would be going to Ferrari, Verstappen and Red Bull soon rose to the top and the Dutchman’s relentless winning streak soon put him clear of anyone else.

He ended 146 points clear of second place Charles Leclerc and the early signs in 2023 suggest we are in for another year of dominance for Formula 1’s most in-form driver.

Armand Gustav “Mondo” Duplantis (Athletics/pole vaulting)

Having won gold at the Tokyo Olympics, Swede Duplantis followed up his triumph with victories in the World Outdoor and Indoor Championships, the Diamond League and the European Championship.

Not only did he pick up some new medals but he also set a new pole vaulting world record, beating his own distance with a score of 6.20 metres indoors and 6.21 metres outdoors.

For his effort, he was named Male Athlete of the Year by World Athletics and has currently cleared six metres or higher 54 times, the most of any athlete in history.

Rafa Nadal (tennis)

The comeback of all comebacks was complete in 2022 when Rafa Nadal went from looking like he may never swing a racket again to becoming the leading men’s grand slam title winner.

As always with the Spaniard, his success was crafted out of grit and determination and at the age of 36, he is showing his mind has not given up either if his body fails him.

He followed up the Australian victory with another French Open title, his 14th at the tournament, once again proving that no athlete in the world is as dominant as Nadal is on clay.

Steph Curry (basketball)

Another glittering year for Curry who won a fourth NBA Championship with the Golden State Warriors and was named NBA Finals MVP after averaging 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game against the Boston Celtics.

Regarded as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, he scored 34 points against the Denver Nuggets to become the 49th NBA player to reach 20,000. He is the seventh player in NBA history to have at least four NBA titles and two MVP awards. recommends

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It is not just Verstappen from the F1 world who is nominated for an award with his team, Red Bull, featuring in the World Team of the Year category.

The Milton Keynes outfit are up against the Argentina men’s football team, the England women’s football team, France men’s rugby team, the Golden State Warriors and Real Madrid men’s football team.