PHOENIX, Arizona, February 11. ANOTHER major sports award, another spot on the nominations list for Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin, who will vie for top honors at the Laureus World Sports Awards on March 11 in Rio de Janeiro.
Though the Laureus committee announced in November that the two Olympic champions were part of a bigger list of candidates to be considered for the award, today's announcement whittled the list down to six per category.
Phelps is in an extremely distinguished list of nominees for World Sportsman of the Year. Olympic champions Usain Bolt (track and field), Mo Farrah (track and field) and Bradley Wiggins (cycling) are nominated, as are race car driver Sebastian Vettel and soccer player Lionel Messi.
Franklin is also vying for the award against three Olympic champions: Heptathlete Jessica Ennis, as well as track stars Allyson Felix and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Also nominated are skier Lindsey Vonn and tennis player Serena Williams.
Swimmers are represented in two other Laureus categories. China's Ye Shiwen and France's Yannick Agnel are among the nominees for World Breakthrough Athlete of the Year, and Brazilian Paralympic champion Daniel Dias vies for the World Sportsperson of the Year With a Disability.
The Laureus Sports Awards are voted on by a jury of former sports greats, called the Laureus Academy. The World Sportsperson of the Year With a Disability is voted by a panel from the International Paralympic Committee.
Since the awards were first handed out in 2000, three swimmers have been honored. Rebecca Adlington won the Breakthrough Award in 2009, and Dias (2009) and Natalie du Toit (2010) have won the Disability Award.
This year marks Phelps' fifth nomination for Sportsman of the Year. In 2004, he lost to Formula One racer Michael Schumacher. In 2005 and 2008, tennis player Roger Federer received the award, while Bolt won in 2009.