Olympic champions James, Nadal, van der Breggen, and Stewart lead Laureus nominations

Mikaela Shiffrin, Alex Morgan, Max Parrot, Momota Kento among those on Comeback Award shortlist

By ZK Goh

Olympic champions LeBron James, Rafael Nadal, Anna van der Breggen, and Breanna Stewart lead a stellar shortlist of nominees for the top prizes at this year's Laureus World Sports Awards to be held in May.

Basketball players James and Stewart have been nominated for the World Sportsman and World Sportswoman of the Year Awards respectively for helping their teams – the Los Angeles Lakers and Seattle Storm respectively – to the NBA and WNBA titles last year.

Meanwhile, Beijing 2008 tennis champion Nadal is nominated for winning a record 13th French Open title (the 20th Grand Slam of his career), and Rio 2016 road race cycling victor Van der Breggen receives her nomination for doing the road race and time trial double at the UCI World Championships.

Athletics record-breakers Joshua Cheptegei (5000m and 10000m) and Armand Duplantis (pole vault) join Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and Polish footballer Robert Lewandowski in completing the six-man World Sportsman of the Year Award shortlist.

Meanwhile, marathon queen Brigid Kosgei; alpine skiing overall World Cup winner Federica Brignone; tennis superstar Osaka Naomi; and Women's Champions League winning football captain Wendie Renard make up the rest of the World Sportswoman of the Year Award nominees.

Mikaela Shiffrin headlines Comeback Award nominations

Three other Olympians, including two-time champion Mikaela Shiffrin, have been nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award.

Shiffrin makes the shortlist for her successful return to the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup circuit following the untimely death of her father last February. The American won a giant slalom in Courchevel at December, and has since gone on to claim a slalom win at Flachau and World Championships super combined gold.

U.S. Women's National Team soccer co-captain Alex Morgan has been selected for the list after returning to the pitch barely six months after giving birth. Morgan gave birth to a daughter in May, and by November was back on the field for Tottenham Hotspur, her loan club.

Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in December 2018, is the third Olympian on the list. After beating the cancer, he took two gold medals at the Winter X Games in January 2020. He has since also returned to the FIS Snowboard World Cup tour, winning the first Big Air of the ongoing season last month.

Other nominees include Momota Kento, the world number one badminton player who sustained facial injuries in a car accident last January but worked hard on his rehabilitation to make a comeback to the court; American football player Alex Smith who returned after two years out with a severe leg injury that required 17 operations; and baseball pitcher Daniel Bard, who spent seven years away from Major League Baseball after suffering the "yips" but was an important part of the Colorado Rockies team in 2020.

Tennis champions top Breakthrough Award shortlist

Three potential Tokyo 2020 stars to watch are on the World Breakthrough of the Year Award shortlist.

Tennis players Dominic Thiem of Austria and Iga Swiatek of Poland are both nominated for their respective Grand Slams win in 2020 – Thiem for the US Open and Swiatek for the French Open. Swiatek, who was a doubles gold medallist at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, became the youngest French Open women's singles winner since 1992 with her victory.

Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia makes the list for his stunning Tour de France come-from-behind victory against his compatriot Primoz Roglic. At 21, he became the second-youngest overall champion in Tour history and the youngest since 1904.

Ansu Fati (football), Patrick Mahomes (American football), and Joan Mir (motorcycling) complete the category.