The European Ryder Cup Team has been named Laureus World Team of the Year following the remarkable final day fightback to win the Ryder Cup in Chicago in the so-called ‘Miracle at Medinah’.
The United States needed only 4½ points from 12 singles matches to win on the Medinah golf course, but it was the Europeans, under the inspirational captaincy of José María Olazábal, who won eight matches and halved another to secure a historic 14½-13½ victory.
The Laureus World Sports Awards are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners are chosen by the LaureusWorldSportsAcademy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen.
The coveted Laureus World Team of the Year Award was presented to Ian Poulter and team members Nicolas Colsaerts, Peter Hanson, Paul Lawrie and Francesco Molinari.
Ian Poulter said: “Thank you very much to Laureus. This means an awful lot to everybody at the Ryder Cup team. With the legends in sport that have voted for us, it truly is a special trophy to put our hands on.”
Looking back to the drama of Medinah, Poulter confirmed that team spirit was instrumental in Europe’s success. He said: “Team spirit and team work played their part in the whole win. If you look at it and break it down we were being beaten pretty badly on Friday and pretty badly on the Saturday morning. We had to turn something around and everybody within the team managed to dig deep and gave that little bit extra. To be able to win the Ryder Cup from the position we were in was pretty special.”
The match came down to a thrilling climax when Martin Kaymer sank a five-foot putt on the 18th green to get his team to the 14 points needed to retain the trophy. Then a Tiger Woods bogey against Francesco Molinari gifted Europe a half point to clinch overall victory. It was a fitting tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros, the man who did so much to reinvigorate the event and whose trademark navy blue and white the European side wore on the final day. Top performers were Ian Poulter, who won all four matches he played, and Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose, who each won three matches.
Laureus World Sports Academy Member Gary Player, one of only five men to win golf’s Grand Slam of four Major Championships, said: “That was an unbelievable final day at the Ryder Cup. I confess I did not think Europe could do it, but the determination that the team showed was sensational. Seve, who did so much to revive the Ryder Cup, would have been so proud of them.”
The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during 2012, were unveiled at the Awards Ceremony at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, which was hosted by Hollywood stars Morgan Freeman and Eva Longoria.
The Awards were announced in seven categories. The full list of winners is:
- Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Usain Bolt
- Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Jessica Ennis
- Laureus World Team of the Year: European Ryder Cup Team
- Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Andy Murray
- Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Felix Sanchez
- Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Daniel Dias
- Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Felix Baumgartner
There were two additional Awards: The Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the Organising Committee of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and the newly created Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award was presented to Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time.
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports more than 140 community sports projects in 34 countries around the world, including three in Rio de Janeiro. Since its inception, Laureus has raised €60 million for projects which have improved the lives of more than one-and-a-half million young people.
Laureus World Sports Awards www.laureus.com