Steph Slater's tip to pass 10
SURFING icon Kelly Slater says there’s one person who he can see eclipsing his record 10 world championships – Tweed Heads girl Stephanie Gilmore.
Slater won the action sportsperson of the year award at the Laureus Sports Awards, a category in which Gilmore was nominated, in the early hours yesterday in Abu Dhabi.
But after receiving the prize for the third time in five years, Slater paid the ultimate tribute to women’s world champion Gilmore when asked if anyone could beat his record championship haul.
“I think Stephanie Gilmore probably will,” the legendary American said of the Kingscliff product.
“She’s tried for four world titles, she’s won four and there’s no-one out there right now whose telling me or showing me they’re going to beat her anytime soon.
“She’s just a phenomenal talent. As far as the men go, I don’t know. I think that’s a whole different question or challenge ... I’ll just hold them at bay as long as I can.”
The 38-year-old accepted the award before talking about the mixed feelings he experienced in 2010 when winning his 10th title in Puerto Rico just days after the sudden death of three-time world champion Andy Irons.
“That same week I won my world title so it was a really horrible and wonderful week for me,” he said.
“To have a friend die and to win what’s become a lifelong goal, it was terrible and tragic and also wonderful and amazing all within a couple of days.”
Slater was one of the big individual winners at the glitzy awards ceremony hosted by two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey.
Men’s tennis world No.1 Rafael Nadal took out the male sportsman of the year prize after his stellar 2010, which included victories in the French and US Opens as well as Wimbledon. “2010 was an emotional season, especially after I came back after a hard time at the end of 2009,” Nadal said.
Australia’s former 500cc motorcycle world champion Mick Doohan was inducted to the Laureus Sports Academy along with British five-time Olympic rowing champion Steve Redgrave.