KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, March 26. MISSY Franklin capped off an incredible week by accepting the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award during a star-studded ceremony in Malaysia tonight.
“Oh my gosh,” said the nine-time world champion upon accepting the award. “I don’t know what I’m doing here.”
Franklin’s appearance at what is dubbed “The Oscars of Sports Awards” comes just days after making her NCAA championship debut. She won the 200-yard freestyle in Minneapolis in American record time (1:40.31) while also placing second in the 500-yard freestyle and third in the 100-yard freestyle. Daniel Bruhl, who recently starred in the film “Rush,” announced Franklin’s win.
Franklin’s win is the first for an aquatic sports athlete in the Sportswoman of the Year category. The honor comes after she won six gold medals at last year’s world championships, the most by any female at a world championship meet. Franklin was also nominated for the award in 2013 after an impressive Olympic debut, where she won five gold medals.
Franklin had tough competition in her category, nominated alongside soccer player Nadine Angerer, runner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, skier Tina Maze and tennis player Serena Williams.
The nominee list for World Sportsperson With a Disability featured three swimmers – Sophie Pascoe, Sarah Louise Rung and Olga Sviderska – but the award went to French skier Marie Bochet. Bochet could double up on the wins next year after taking four gold medals recently at the Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Other swimmers have won in other Laureus categories in previous years. Rebecca Adlington won Breakthrough of the Year in 2009 after her double gold medal performance at the Beijing Olympics. Brazil’s Daniel Dias is a two-time winner, taking the Sportsperson With a Disability award in 2013 and 2009. Natalie du Toit also won that award in 2010.
Though he never won the Sportsman of the Year award, Michael Phelps received the Exceptional Achievement Award in 2013 after becoming the Greatest Olympian of All Time with his 22-medal haul over three Olympics.
The Laureus Awards are voted on by an elite panel of judges using a secret ballot.
Other awards handed out in tonight’s gala at press time:
Bayern Munich (football) for Team of the Year;
BMX biker Jamie Bestwick for Action Sportsperson of the Year;
Afghanistan cricket team wins the Spirit of Sport Award;
Tennis player Rafael Nadal for Comeback of the Year (winning his third Laureus award in eight years)