It’s unlikely Usain Bolt and LeBron James will go head to head in athletic competition any time soon (or ever), but they’re up for the same honor at the Laureus World Sports Awards on Wednesday.
The annual Laureus Awards honor athletes from 2013 “who best demonstrate supreme athletic performance and achievement — such as consecutive or multiple world, continental, international or national and major championship titles or the establishment of world records or best performances.”
Here’s a look at each award that will be announced in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m. ET:
Sportsman of the Year Nominees
Usain Bolt — Won 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at 2013 World Championships; IAAF Male Athlete of the Year
Mo Farah — Won 5000m, 10,000m at 2013 World Championships, broke European 1500m record
LeBron James — Won NBA Championship with Miami Heat; NBA MVP, NBA Finals MVP
Rafael Nadal — Won French Open, U.S. Open; ATP year-end No. 1
Cristiano Ronaldo — Scored 69 goals for Real Madrid/Portugal in 2013; FIFA Player of the Year
Sebastian Vettel — Won 13 Grand Prix races, including nine straight; Formula One world champion
Bolt has won this award three of the past five years — after his Olympic triumphs in 2008 and 2012 and his 2009 World Championships record-breaking performances. Bolt was magnificent in 2013, but not unbeatable and didn’t break any of his records.
That would seem to open the door for another nominee to take the crown this year. A major U.S. team sport player has never won the award, which has been given out yearly since 2000. Could James be the first?
Nadal earned Sportsman of the Year honors after winning three Grand Slams in 2010. He missed the Australian Open due to injury and lost in the first round of Wimbledon, which could hurt his chances.
Ronaldo beat out Lionel Messi for FIFA’s top honor in 2013, but Real Madrid didn’t win La Liga and bowed out in the Champions League semifinals. It was also a non-World Cup or European Championships year, and no soccer player has ever won the award.
The German Vettel looks to join countryman Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to take the award. Vettel’s 2013 was one of the greatest years, if not the greatest, in F1 history. He matched Schumacher’s records for most wins in one season and broke (or tied, depending on what statistics you believe) the record for consecutive wins.
Sportswoman of the Year nominees
Nadine Angerer — Goalie and captain for Germany’s European Championships winning team; FIFA Player of the Year
Missy Franklin — First woman to win six gold medals at a single World Swimming Championships
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce — Won 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay at World Championships; IAAF Female Athlete of the Year
Yelena Isinbayeva — Won pole vault at World Track and Field Championships
Tina Maze — Alpine skiing World Cup overall champion with the most points (2,414) by a man or woman in a single season
Serena Williams — Won French Open, U.S. Open; WTA year-end No. 1
Angerer, like James and Ronaldo, will try to become the first team sport athlete to win. She excelled in a non-Olympic, non-Women’s World Cup year.
Franklin did something unprecedented at the biggest swim meet of 2013, but it was fellow American Katie Ledecky who was named FINA Athlete of the Year. No female swimmer has won the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year.
Fraser-Pryce’s worlds sweep, arguably more impressive than Bolt’s, was a first for a woman. She’s looking to become the third straight track and field athlete to win Sportswoman of the Year, following Vivian Cheruiyot and Jessica Ennis.
It’s tough for an athlete like Isinbayeva to state her case on a list like this. The Russian can only win one title at any meet she enters as a pole vaulter. She won the biggest competition in 2013 in Moscow and already took home this award after her 2008 Olympic season.
Maze had arguably the greatest World Cup season in skiing history and added a World Championship in the super-G. Lindsey Vonn and Janica Kostelic previously won this award
Williams earned Sportswoman of the Year after winning the last three majors of 2002 as part of her Serena Slam and again after winning two majors in 2009. In 2002, she went 56-5 with eight titles. In 2009, she went 50-12 with three titles. In 2013, she went 78-4 with 11 titles after going 58-4 in 2012.
Here are nominees for the other four awards:
Team of the Year
New Zealand Rugby Union — Went undefeated in 2013
Bayern Munich — First club to complete the Champions League, Bundesliga, German Cup treble
Brazil Men’s Soccer — Confederations Cup champions
Bob and Mike Bryan — Won Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon doubles titles
Miami Heat — NBA champions with franchise-record 66 regular-season wins
Red Bull F1 — Formula One Constructors’ World Championship winner, led by drivers Vettel and Mark Webber
Comeback of the Year
Yelena Isinbayeva — Won pole vault world title after taking bronze at 2012 Olympics
Rafael Nadal — Reclaimed the No. 1 ranking after missing seven months with a knee injury
Oracle Team USA — Rallied from 8-1 down to win the America’s Cup 9-8
Tony Parker — Returned from eye injury to help the Spurs to the 2013 NBA Finals, France to a European title
Ronaldinho — Helped Atletico Mineiro to the Copa Libertadores title at age 33
Tiger Woods — Regained world No. 1 ranking; PGA Tour Player of the Year
Breakthrough of the Year
Afghanistan Cricket Team — Reached first Cricket World Cup
Marc Marquez — Youngest MotoGP world champion
Raphael Holzdeppe — Pole vault world champion at 23
Nairo Quintana — Young Riders and King of the Mountains winner at 2013 Tour de France; second overall
Justin Rose — Won first major championship at U.S. Open
Adam Scott — Won first major championship at the Masters
Action Sportsperson of the Year
Jamie Bestwick — BMX Vert champion at Barcelona X Games
Bob Burnquist — Skateboarding Big Air champion at Munich X Games
Mick Fanning — Beat Kelly Slater for surfing world title
John John Florence — Received a perfect 10 for an Alley Oop at the Oakley Pro surfing event in Bali
Maya Gabeira — Lost consciousness and nearly drowned attempting to surf the biggest wave ever by a woman
Shaun White — 2013 Winter X Games halfpipe champion
Sportsperson of the Year with a disability
Marie Bochet — Swept the standing downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom, super combined at World Alpine Skiing Championships
Marcel Hug — Wheelchair racer won five golds, one silver at IPC World Track and Field Championships
Tatyana McFadden — First athlete to win six gold medals at a single IPC World Track and Field Championships and to complete a major marathon Grand Slam in one year
Sophie Pascoe — Five gold medals in five events with four world records at the IPC World Swimming Championships
Sarah Louise Rung — Four gold medals at IPC World Swimming Championships
Olga Sviderska — Seven gold medals at IPC World Swimming Championships