Can Farah go the distance and cap landmark year?

LESS than two weeks to go and the countdown is on to the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards. The most prestigious sports awards in the world, the winners are chosen by the 47 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, which includes British greats such as Sir Ian Botham, Sir Bobby Charlton, Lord Sebastian Coe and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

This year there is a very strong British feel to the Awards, nowhere more so than in the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year category. With the Olympic Games just six months away, Mo Farah will be one of our best hopes for gold after last year becoming the first Briton to win the World Championships 5,000m in Daegu and claiming 10,000m silver as well.

Also nominated is golfer Rory McIlroy, who delighted the nation with his win in the US Open. Who will win? We’ll find out at the Laureus World Sports Awards at Central Hall, Westminster, on Monday 6 February.

WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS

FANCY rubbing shoulders with the very biggest names from the world of sport at next month’s glitzy ceremony in London? Of course you do. Well you’re in luck, because City A.M. has a pair of tickets to the Laureus World Sports Awards at Central Hall, Westminster, on 6 February – and the exclusive aftershow party – to give away to a lucky reader. Just keep watching these pages for full details of how to win this money-can’t-buy prize in the coming weeks.

THE NOMINEES

YOHAN BLAKE
(Jamaica) Athletics

At 21, he won the 100m gold medal in the World Championships in Daegu. Blake also won gold as a member of the Jamaican 4x100m relay team, in a world record 37.04 seconds. In September he ran the second fastest 200m of all time in 19.26 secs.

MO FARAH
(United Kingdom) Athletics

Became the first British man to win a World Championship gold medal in the 5,000m, also winning silver in the 10,000m. Earlier in the year, he won 3,000m gold in the European Indoor Championship. Was named 2011 European Athlete of the Year. Born in Somalia, he moved to Britain aged eight.

PETRA KVITOVA
(Czech Republic) Tennis

At 21, she beat Maria Sharapova in straight sets to win Wimbledon, her first ever grand slam. The Czech’s other highlight came in October when she won the WTA Championships in Istanbul, defeating Victoria Azarenka in three sets. Left-hander Kvitova is known for her powerful serve.

RORY MCILROY
(United Kingdom) Golf

Rory McIlroy captured his first Major title in 2011 when he won the US Open by eight shots. It was an emotional victory for McIlroy, who had blown a four-shot lead in the Masters weeks earlier with a final round 80. At 22, he became the youngest US Open winner since 1923.

LI NA
(China) Tennis

In 2011, Li Na became China’s first winner of a grand slam when she defeated Francesca Schiavone to win the French Open. Earlier she had reached the final of the Australian Open – another first for a Chinese player - beating world No1 Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-final, but losing in the final to Kim Clijsters.

OSCAR PISTORIUS
(South Africa) Athletics

Oscar Pistorius became the first amputee to win a non-disabled World Championship track medal, as a member of the South African silver medal winning 4x400m relay team. He also reached the semi-finals of the individual 400m. Born without fibulae, he runs with carbon fibre ‘blades’.