Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva, the 2008 World Athlete of the Year, was named the winner of the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award for the second time, following her sensational gold medal winning performance in the Beijing Olympics.
“To win the Laureus Award again is a unique honour,” said Isinbayeva, who received the award from Laureus World Sports Academy members Sir Bobby Charlton, the England football legend; Marcel Desailly, the former French football captain; and Italian ski maestro Alberto Tomba, at a special presentation event in Rome.
Not only is it her second Laureus Award – she also won in 2007 – but it is the fifth straight year that the Russian pole vault super star has been nominated.
“It was a real thrill to win this award two years ago, but to have won it again is unbelievable,” Isinbayeva said. “I would like to thank the members of the Laureus Academy who voted for me again. They have all competed at the highest level and know how much commitment is needed to stay at the top. I would especially like to thank my coach Vitaliy Petrov and Sergey Bubka who has been a great mentor to me over the years, and my management who have helped me to win this Award.”
“Yelena totally deserves this second Laureus Award,” said Bubka, who is also an IAAF Senior Vice President. “She is a phenomenal athlete. From the time she set her first world record six year ago, she has dominated women’s pole vaulting, and made it one of the blue riband events in athletics. She was the first woman to break the five metre barrier and has already improved the world record 24 times. She still has many years of top class competition to come. Who knows how far she can take the event in the future?”
In Beijing, Isinbayeva cleared 5.05m to win her second Olympic gold medal. It was her ninth major championship career victory, which have included Olympic, World outdoor and indoor and European outdoor and indoor titles.
Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, who became the first woman to win the 5000 and 10,000m titles at the same Olympic Games, was also a finalist for World Sportswoman of the Year.
The Laureus Foundation addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception Laureus has raised €20 million for projects which have helped improve the lives of more than one million young people.