Laureus World Sports Awards announces September nominees for Best Sporting Moment of the Year
When the Borussia Dortmund team bus was hit by an explosion ahead of their Champions League quarter-final with Monaco on 11 April, it forced the match to be postponed and many of the travelling French fans without a roof over their head for the night. That’s when the German club’s fans did something unheard of: they took to social media to offer their houses to their “rivals”.
Just as heartwarming is the tale of Bill Conner — who cycled over 2,000 miles to honour his deceased daughter Abbey and her organ donation — and Billy 'The Whizz' Monger — an 18-year-old Formula 4 driver, who suffered life-changing injury but didn’t let it hold him back.
There’s also the inspiring story of a 101-year-old Indian athlete Man Kaur, who sprinted to gold at World Masters Games in Auckland.
From challenging age to overcoming disability, this month’s six contenders for the Laureus Best Sporting Moment of the Year are not just inspiring, but heartwarming and emotional to say the least.
Each month, from August to December, the public can select their favourite from a shortlist of six videos, chosen by the sporting legends of the Laureus World Sports Academy. The five monthly winners will then go head-to-head for a final public vote, with the winner being announced at the 2018 Laureus Awards Ceremony.
Laureus Best Sporting Moments demonstrate qualities such as fair play, sportsmanship, drama, and dedication, and look beyond the scoreboard or podium. They symbolise the true values of sport and bring to life the message that sport has the power to change the world.
As Laureus World Sports Awards' India partners, Firstpost brings you the September nominees for the 2018 edition:
Age is just a number
For 101-year-old Man Kaur, from Chandigarh in India, age is just a number. The Masters athlete picked up the 17th gold medal of her career on 24 April at the World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand, completing the 100-metre sprint in one minute and 14 seconds. "I enjoyed it, and I’m very, very happy,” Kaur said after the race. Kaur started participating in athletics events eight years ago, at the age of 93, following encouragement from her son Gurdev Singh, 78, who also competed in the Masters Games.
"When my mum wins, she goes back to India, and she's excited to tell others, 'I have won so many medals for this country.' Winning makes her happy," Singh said. When training at home in Chandigarh, Kaur runs a number of short distances every evening — and she believes other women should follow in her footsteps. "She encourages them to run, not eat wrong foods, and they should encourage their children also to take part in the Games," said her son.
Rivals become friends
Footballing rivals showed solidarity after an explosion occurred beside the Borussia Dortmund team bus ahead of their Champions League quarter-final with Monaco on 11 April. The incident forced the game to be postponed until the following evening and left many Monaco fans without a bed for the night. Social media came to the rescue as the hashtags #BedForAwayFans and #BedsForAwayFans were used by Dortmund fans, offering stranded Monaco fans a place to sleep for the night. The hashtags trended worldwide and generated over 16 million impressions in just 12 hours. Police later confirmed there were three explosions near the bus, breaking some of the vehicle’s windows.
Defender Marc Bartra was injured by shards of glass and was taken to the hospital quickly. He underwent surgery on his injured arm to repair a fracture and remove shrapnel. The Spain defender took to Instagram to describe his emotions: “The pain, the panic and the uncertainty of not knowing what was going on, or how long it would last … were the longest and hardest 15 minutes of my life.”
The Lucas family have supported the University of North Carolina for as long as they can remember, and on 8 January, Carolina was playing NC State. "That game had actually been delayed because of snow and the cold weather," said Adam Lucas, father of Asher. Because of the delay, there was no set half-time show on this day, so 11-year-old Asher and his friend Grant, decided that they’d entertain the crowd by trying a few half-court shots.
Asher hit the first shot...
"After the first one, they're like, 'Hey, you made a half-court shot. Good job,'" Asher said.
And the second…
"I'm like, this is nuts, there's no way I can make three," Asher recalled. "But let's try it because the crowd's excited. You don't want to just stop there."
And the third!!!
"The crowd went nuts when I made three," Asher said. "It felt amazing because I don't really know anybody that made three half-court shots before, and it's really hard to do."
Abbey’s heart lives on
20-year-old Abbey Conner died tragically while on holiday in Mexico with her family in January. Five months later, her father Bill decided to do something to honour her short life. On 22 May, Conner, a passionate cyclist, jumped on his bike and began riding across the country. He decided to travel 2,600 miles — from his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida — to visit Broward Health Medical Centre, the hospital that recovered Abbey's organs for donation back in January. 1,400 miles into his journey, he met 21-year-old Loumonth Jack Jr, who only survived because Abbey had donated her organs, and her heart was donated to save his life.
When Conner met Jack he felt like he already knew him. "Knowing he's alive because of Abbey, Abbey is alive inside of him — it's her heart having him stand up straight," Conner said. "I was happy for him and his family, and at the same time, I got to reunite with my daughter." After sharing an embrace, Jack pulled out a stethoscope so Conner could hear his daughter's heartbeat for the first time since she died in January. Both men began to tear up. The family made a recording of Jack's heart so Conner could listen to it as he rides. After spending a little more time with Jack, Conner continued on his journey to spread awareness about the importance of organ donation, sharing his daughter's story along the way.
Josh Landmann was left paralysed from just below his chest after diving into a pool and hitting his head on the bottom, suffering spinal injuries. Despite his injuries, the 22-year-old didn’t let his freak accident stop him giving Tough Mudder, a gruelling obstacle course, a go on 13 May in order to raise money for Spinal Research. When Landmann attempted to crawl up the challenging ‘Everest’ hurdle on the course, he received support from his dad, Neil, and other participants who outstretched their hands and hauled him to the top of the obstacle. “I got to the edge thinking I’d be able to crawl up it quite easily and get to the rope, but it wasn’t quite as easy as that. It was very slippery. And then dad’s trying to push me and he’s slipping,” Josh said.
Neil added: “He’s so determined to succeed and achieve things it was just normal. We’ve grown up with his progression and positivity. He’s amazing in that regard.” On the support he’s received since the Tough Mudder challenge, Josh said: “I’ve received so many messages from mums and from children who say they want to do it when they’re older. I’ve had messages from people who are in the hospital at the minute who say they’re very low in themselves and ask ‘How do you do it?’ It’s quite surreal.” Now Landmann wants to take part in the Winter Paralympics in 2022: “I’ve been working with the British para-snowsports team and done a few races, it’s opened so many doors for me. But I’ve got a few more challenges ahead as well.”
Billy Whizz is back
Billy 'The Whizz' Monger was chatting with Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton, at the World Championship Practice Day at Silverstone just months after a horrific accident, in which the teenage motorsport driver lost both his legs. The 18-year-old suffered life-changing injuries when he crashed into the rear of a stationary car, at a Formula 4 race at Donnington Park, on 16 April. Billy was stuck in his vehicle for 90 minutes until he could be airlifted to a hospital in Nottingham, but tragically medics could not save his legs. Mercedes driver Hamilton tweeted about Monger after hearing of the driver's injuries. Hamilton posted: “I have only just seen the news of this tragic incident. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, @BillyMonger.”
The incident shook the motorsport community and led to a fundraising campaign for Billy’s rehabilitation and recovery that raised more than £800,000 — Formula 1 drivers Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa were amongst the supporters. Despite the accident, Billy hasn't let losing both legs scupper his motorsport ambitions. Eleven weeks after his accident, the Formula 4 driver was back behind the wheel with help from Team BRIT, which helps disabled drivers and ex-serving military to take part in motorsport. Monger drove a specially adapted car fitted with steering wheel mounted hand controls for the throttle, brakes and clutch. Speaking at the time, Billy said: “It just shows you when a tragic event like this happens how people pull together. I have still got a few years in me for sure so I want to prove how much you can do even with something like this.”
To view these emotional and engaging clips and VOTE for your favourite, visit myLaureus.com.
Sports fans can also send videos that they have seen and enjoyed to myLaureus.com and they will be considered for the shortlist in future months.