Woods, Schumacher in running for Laureus sportsman-of-year award

Tuesday, March 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BERLIN (AP) _ U.S. Golfer Tiger Woods and German driver Michael Schumacher are among those in the running for the 2001 world sportsman of the year, the Laureus world sports academy announced Tuesday.

The fledgling organization, handing out nominations for the second time, is composed of 40 former sports greats, including Michael Jordan, Pele, Edwin Moses, Martina Navratilova and Mark Spitz.

The Laureus Group, which gives money to sports programs that promote social change, hopes to turn their awards into a sports version of the Oscars.

Candidates for the year's top female athlete include tennis player Venus Williams and runner Cathy Freeman. Baseball's New York Yankees, soccer's French national team and the Australian cricket side are among the selections for outstanding team.

The Laureus group said it also may gain backing from the International Olympic Committee for its annual awards.

``We're close to an agreement,'' said Thomas Bach, IOC vice president. ``The IOC is eager to participate when outstanding athletes are honored in a special way.''

The winners will be announced May 22 in Monaco.

The group's funding comes from DaimlerChrylser and Richemond, a Swiss-based owner of luxury brands, which have given the athletes dlrs 1 million this year to fund programs such as an Irish youth league where Catholic and Protestant children play together.

The Laureus athletes say they plan to take a global view of who has recorded the year's outstanding achievements.

``We have over 300 experts and journalists worldwide that will inform us, so we'll even be brought up to date on sports like cricket,'' said Edwin Moses, the group's chairman and two-time 400 meter hurdles Olympic champion.

Sailor Vinny Lauwers and swimmer Beatrice Hess have been nominated for sportsperson with a disability, while comeback of the year includes hockey's Mario Lemieux and skier Janica Kostelic.

The group of athletes that made the nominations included Moses, Spitz, Boris Becker, Argentinian rugby player Morne du Plessis and gymnast Nadia Comaneci.

The candidates for the 2001 Laureus World Sports Awards:

Sportsman of year _ Tiger Woods, golf, Pieter van den Hoogenband and Ian Thorpe, swimming, Michael Schumacher, Formula One, and Steve Redgrave, rowing.

Sportswoman of year _ Venus Williams, tennis, Karrie Webb, golf, Inge de Bruijn, swimmer, Marion Jones and Cathy Freeman, athletics.

Newcomer of year _ Marat Safin and Juan Carlos Ferrero, tennis, Brett Lee, cricket, Aaron Baddeley, golf, and Jenson Button, Formula One.

Comeback of year _ Jennifer Capriati, Janica Kostelic, skiing, Heike Drechsler, Germany, Mario Lemieux, ice hockey, and Dana Torres, swimming.

Disabled athlete of year _ Beatrice Hess, swimming, David Hall, tennis, Lee Pearson, equestrian, Vinny Lauwers, sailing, Shea Cowart, athletics.

Alternative athlete of year _ Lyne Beachley, sufer, Tara Dakides, snowboarder, Mike Horn, extreme adventurer, Davo Carnicar, skier-mountain climber and John Stamstad, mountain biker.