Spectacular performances at the London Olympic Games have produced a string of impressive candidates for nomination for the 2013 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award.
Sheffield’s heptathlon gold medal winner Jessica Ennis, one of the heroes of the home crowd in London, is one of many contenders, including a trio of multi-medal American Olympians in Allyson Felix, Missy Franklin and Serena Williams.
The Laureus awards are recognised as the premier honours event in the international sporting calendar. The winners will be unveiled during a globally televised Awards Ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.
Proceeds underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports more than 100 community sports projects around the world that have helped to improve the lives of over one-and-a-half million young people.
Jessica Ennis dominated the heptathlon and won the gold medal, beating Lilli Schwarzkopf by 306 pts. Her time in the 100 metres hurdles was a new British record and also the fastest in a heptathlon. She was subsequently voted European Women’s Athlete of the Year.
Serena Williams made it a year to remember, recovering from a blood clot on her lung in 2011 to win both Olympic singles and doubles gold medals, with sister Venus. It made her the only player in history to have won the Career Golden Grand Slam - all four Grand Slam tournaments and an Olympic gold medal - in singles AND doubles. She also won Wimbledon for a fifth time and the US Open for a fourth time, giving her a career total of 15 Grand Slam singles titles.
Allyson Felix won three golds in London 2012 to match the great Wilma Rudolph and Florence Griffith-Joyner. She won the individual 200 metres, improving on silver medals in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, and also won gold medals in the 4 x 100 metres and the 4 x 400 metres relay.
In the pool, fellow American Missy Franklin, 17, was one of the youngest stars of the Olympic Games, winning four gold medals - two individual in the 100 and 200 metres backstroke and two team golds in the 4 x 100 metres medley and the 4 x 200 metres freestyle. She also won a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 metres freestyle and holds the world record in the 200 metres backstroke.
Among the other outstanding Olympic performers were Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the face of the Jamaican women’s sprint team. She won gold in the 100 metres and silver medals in the 200 metres and 4 x 100 metres relay to confirm her position as the fastest woman in the world.