‘I’m hoping we can win it again’: Springboks, Siya Kolisi in the mix for Laureus awards

Siya Kolisi and some of his Springbok teammates addressed the media after winning the 2020 Laureus Team of the Year award in Berlin. Photo: Ashfak Mohamed

Siya Kolisi and some of his Springbok teammates addressed the media after winning the 2020 Laureus Team of the Year award in Berlin. Photo: Ashfak Mohamed

Published Feb 26, 2024

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Siya Kolisi said it is a “very special personal moment for me” after he was nominated in the Comeback of the Year category for the Laureus World Sports Awards.

Kolisi’s Springbok team have also received recognition for the Team of the Year gong as all the Laureus nominees were announced on Monday.

The winners, following a vote by the Laureus World Sports Academy – which is made up of 69 of the greatest sporting legends of all time – will be revealed at their awards show on April 22 in Madrid.

The Boks clinched the 2020 award in Berlin as well, after winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, and followed that championship with the 2023 title in France to claim their fourth Webb Ellis Cup – in the process becoming only the second team to win back-to-back tournaments after the All Blacks in 2011 and 2015.

The South Africans produced a remarkable effort in France last year as they emulated their performance from Japan in still going on to grab the trophy despite losing a pool match, having gone down 13-8 to Ireland.

But getting through the group stage, they had to dig deep in a thrilling sequence of playoffs, beating the French 29-28, England 16-15 and then New Zealand 12-11 in the final.

The Boks will be up against Spain’s women’s football Team, who won their first World Cup, treble winners Manchester City, the European Ryder Cup Team, following their dominant victory over their American counterparts, the all-conquering Oracle Red Bull Racing Team, who delivered a second straight Formula One World Constructors’ Championship, and the Germany Men’s Basketball Team for their incredible FIBA Basketball World Cup victory.

Kolisi is among the nominees for the Comeback of the Year after making a inspirational return to the pitch after a knee injury earlier last year appeared to have ended his hopes of playing at the World Cup.

But despite sustaining an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear, which normally takes nine months to heal, Kolisi was back within six and played his part to lift the World Cup for the second time.

“This is such an overwhelming moment for me – to be nominated with the Springboks for Laureus Team of the Year, and also individually for Comeback of the Year,” the 32-year-old loose forward said.

“I know just what it means to win a Laureus Award. I was lucky enough to be captain of the Springboks in 2019 when we won the World Cup, and as a result, the following year we won Laureus Team of the Year.

“I’m hoping we can win it again. As always, it is a formidable group of teams nominated this year, including Manchester City, Spain’s Women’s World Cup winners and Oracle Red Bull Racing.

“It was a close thing whether I would recover from injury in time to play in the Rugby World Cup. I made it, so it’s a very special personal moment for me to receive my nomination.”

There are two other South African nominations for the awards – sailor Kirsten Neuschäfer for the World Action Sportsperson of the Year, marking her extraordinary achievement of becoming the first female to win a solo round-the-world race via the three Great Capes, while the Justice Desk Africa group are in the running for the Sport for Good Award.

The two main awards, Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, sees some of the greatest athletes of all time in the mix.

The nominees for the men are Novak Djokovic, who won three Grand Slams last year; Formula One world champion Max Verstappen; sprinter Noah Lyles, who won three gold medals at the world athletics championships; Manchester City striker Erling Haaland for scoring 52 goals in his team’s treble-winning season; and pole-vaulter Mondo Duplantis, who improved his world record twice and won gold at the world champs.

The nominees are athletics stars Shericka Jackson, Sha’Carri Richardson and Faith Kipyegon, footballer Aitana Bonmati, tennis player Iga Swiatek and Alpine Skiing’s Mikaela Shiffrin.

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