Will Li Na win the fourth Laureus World Sports Awards for China?
Updated: 2015-04-14 14:53
Australian Open tennis champion China's Li Na waves to the crowd as she stands next to the women's singles trophy during an official ceremony on Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park Jan 19, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
SHANGHAI -- Li Na won her second Grand Slam, the Australian Open, and achieved a career-best ranking of World No. 2 in 2014, but it still remains a question whether she can win the sportswoman of the year in the Laureus World Sports Awards which will be announced Wednesday evening.
It is the second time Li Na was nominated for the award in Laureus, an Oscar-like ceremony after she became a candidate in 2012.
"It is hard to predict who will win this year," said former Olympic athletics champion Michael Johnson Tuesday morning. "Every candidate has chance to win."
Chinese names were engraved three times in Laureus Sports Awards history when Yao Ming, Liu Xiang won the newcomer award in 2003, 2005 respectively and the Chinese Olympic Team had the team award in 2009.
As a strong candidate, Li Na was favored by Yang Yang, Chinese first winter Olympic gold medalist and also a member of Laureus Academy.
"As a academy member, it is very hard for me to chose the best from the best," said Yang Yang. "But I think Li Na has a chance, she is a strong candidate."
"I am very happy to be nominated," said Li Na Tuesday. "All nominees are top class athletes."
Li Na has been a great pioneer for tennis in China. In 2014, she won her second Grand Slam at the Australian Open and achieved a career-best ranking of world No. 2. Howver, seven months later, she was forced to retire at 32 because of knee injuries.
Among other five candidates for the sportswoman of the year award, Serena Williams of the United States poses a threat to Li Na. Serena, three times Laureus winner - sportswoman's award (2003 and 2010) and comeback award (2007), rediscovered her form to win the US Open, her 18th Grand Slam victory, which put her level in the all time list with Chris Evert and Martina Martina Navatilova of the United States.
Other candidates for the sportswoman's award includes Olympic shotput champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand, Nordic skiing Olympic champion Marit Bjorgen of Norway, 1500m indoor world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and Alping skiing Olympic gold medalist Tina Maze of Slovenia.
Valerie, for the fourth year in succession, ended the season undefeated, having won 14 competitions in which she competed, bringing her unbeaten steak to 56. She was named IAAF women's athlete of year after she won all seven Diamond League events and gold medals in the world indoor championships and the Commonwealth Games.