Well the ultimate sporting prize is seen by many as the Laureus Sports Awards, I can confirm that they are now seen as the second biggest. The biggest Sports award now that International stars are fighting for is the ATJ International Sports Awards. Today we honour the 5 sporting individuals who stood out the most in 2011 and deserved their acclaim as being one of the best in the World. Although they didn’t make it into my top 5, honourable mention will go to Sebastien Loeb, Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt, Pietie Coetzee and Thierry Dusuatoir. But nobody really cares about who the runner ups are, so in reverse order here they are:
The Taiwanese Tiger (in his peak on a golf course) had a sensational year on the golf course. She started the year on fire winning 4 titles by March. This propelled her to number 1 in the World. This was just the start of it. In June she won the State Farm Classic before going on to win her fourth major of her career, the LPGA Championship. In the process of doing this she became the youngest player to win 4 majors. A month later she defended her title at the Ladies British Open. This win made her the youngest player in mens or women’s golf to win 5 majors. At 22 she has a long career ahead of her and could comfortably eclipse Annika Sorensten as well as Jack Nicklaus in terms of major wins. But that’s provided the comparisons with Tiger stay on the golf course. She crowned off her 2011 by being awarded the LPGA Player of the Year for the second year in a row coupled with her 11 titles in the year make her one of the 5 ATJ Sports Stars of the Year!
Our second star of the year is on the other end of the age spectrum to our first, not quite as bad as Hugh Hefner is to his girlfriends! Kelly Slater has been a world beater for many years but had been expected to fall back in the latter years of his career. 2011 was not one of those years it seemed as he emerged victorious in Australia on the Gold Coast, in the US Open, in the Taiti Billabong Pro as well as in California. This combined with consistent performances throughout the year led him to an unprecendeted and unbelievable really 11th World Title! Kelly Slater we salute you!
He started 2011 with his biggest career win by marauding to a 3&2 win over Martin Kaymer in the final of the WGC Accenture Match Play in February. He followed up his good Matchplay brilliance by making the final of the Volvo Matchplay, only to narrowly lose out to countryman Ian Poulter. He then won the BMW PGA Championship in May edging out Lee Westwood (the then number 1) in a Playoff. This victory led to him taking charge of the World number 1 spot. In July he won the Barclays Scottish Open. He won his fourth tournament in October after a second place finish in July. The biggest blip on his radar was his performance at the Majors, which is surely a task he will take to like Frank Lampard to a pie. In December he made history as he secured the Race to Dubai becoming the first man in history to top the PGA and the European Tour’s money lists. He also was voted the European Player of the Year and the PGA Player of the year. A fine year for the world number 1.
Not since a German dominated Formula 1 have we seen such domination of this German over his Formula 1 counterparts. Sebastien Vettel dominated the 2011 season in incredible fashion. He finished the season with 15 poles, 11 wins and 17 podiums from the 19 races. He broke another record as the youngest ever double champion in Formula 1 and is consistently proving himself better and better! He ultimately won the title very comfortably and was able to donate a victory to team-mate Mark Webber in the final race of the season. What is it about Germans and formula 1?
What a year 2011 was for the Serbian star. He started it with a near record-breaking streak that fell just short of John McEnroe’s long-standing record. His year was one of brilliance as his year-long record reads 70-6 with two of those losses being injury forced. He won 10 tournaments in the year including the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open after facing two match points against Roger Federer. His rise also saw him take over the world number 1 ranking from Nadal and his season was described by Pete Sampras as the greatest season the Pistol has ever seen. He already started the 2012 season with a victory including another harassment of Fedex. Novak Djokovic is the ATJ Sports Star of 2011.