Joshua Cheptegei may only be 24 but he is already a living sports legend.
And perhaps, it is unfortunate that an Olympic gold medal is delaying his stellar crowning for Uganda’s G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time) status.
But if anything, yesterday’s announcement of the long-distance runner Cheptegei as one of the nominees for Sportsman of the Year Award at the annual Laureus World Sports Awards is another mark of this gem.
He is up for the top award against Formula One World champion Lewis Hamilton, reigning World Athlete of the Year Swede vaulter Armand Duplantis, NBA champions LA Lakers’ LeBron James, Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski and 20-Grand Slam tennis icon Rafael Nadal.
“I am really honoured to be nominated,” Cheptegei expressed his delight in a tweet, later receiving a mention from former Ukrainian vaulter Sergey Bubka.
It is a momentous feat for Cheptegei who broke three world records (WRs) over the 5km, 5000m and 10000m before taking fourth place and a team bronze medal at the World Half-Marathon Championships in Poland last year.
He is the first sportsman from Uganda to receive this nomination in the 21-year history of these Awards.
Furthermore, the world 10000m champion is just the third African to be nominated after Moroccan middle-distance runner Hicham El Guerrouj (2005) and Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge (2019 and 2020).
The winner at the virtual ceremony to be held in May will be crowned with a Laureus statuette, created by Cartier.
The Awards are considered highly respected and are always equated to the ‘Oscars’ of the film industry.
The Awards winners are voted by the 68 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy which comprises former global sports stars like Bubka, Indian cricket legend Rahul Dravid, British boxing icon Lennox Lewis and Chinese basketball great Yao Ming.
2021 LAUREUS WORLD SPORTS AWARDS
FULL LIST OF NOMINEES
Sportsman of the Year Award: Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda), Armand Duplantis (Sweden), Lewis Hamilton (UK), LeBron James (USA), Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Rafael Nadal (Spain)
Sportswoman of the Year Award: Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands), Federica Brignone (Italy), Brigid Kosgei (Kenya), Naomi Osaka (Japan), Wendie Renard (France), Breanna Stewart (USA)
World Team of the Year Award: Argentina Men’s Rugby Team, Bayern Munich (Germany), Kansas City Chiefs (USA), Liverpool (UK), Los Angeles Lakers (USA), Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team (Germany)