Four-time 2012 Olympic champion Missy Franklin became the youngest winner of a Laureus Sportsman or Sportswoman of the Year and the first swimmer to take the honor Wednesday.
Franklin was in attendance in Kuala Lumpur to receive the award from seven-time 1972 Olympic champion swimmer Mark Spitz.
The other nominees were German soccer player Nadine Angerer, Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, Slovenian Alpine skier Tina Maze and American tennis player Serena Williams.
Laureus Awards have been presented annually since 2000 for sports performances in the previous year. Spitz gave a little speech before presenting Franklin her award.
“On a personal note, I’m pleased to be able to present you this award for your outstanding achievements and what you accomplished last year, and, more importantly, it’s incredible that she’s only 18 years old, and what marvelous opportunities in life are before her in the future,” Spitz said.
Franklin earned the award for her unprecedented success in 2013, becoming the first woman to win six gold medals a single World Swimming Championships.
“Oh my gosh,” Franklin said after walking on stage in a green dress. “I don’t know what I’m doing here.”
Franklin, 18, expressed her condolences, thoughts and prayers for those affected by the Malaysia Airlines flight tragedy to start her acceptance speech. She joked that she’s not missing any classes at California, where she’s a freshman, because the school is on spring break.
She also said she met Spitz on an elevator in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. Franklin’s parents were in the crowd at the awards show, spending a week in Malaysia together.
“It was just one of the most incredible moments of my life,” Franklin said. “Being here, it’s more than an honor.”
Other award winners:
Sebastian Vettel, Sportsman of the Year
Bayern Munich, Team of the Year
Afghanistan Cricket Team, Spirit of Sport Award
Jamie Bestwick, Action Sportsperson of the Year
Marie Bochet, Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Marc Marquez, Breakthrough of the Year