SCHALK BURGER NOMINATED FOR LAUREUS COMEBACK OF THE YEAR AFTER LIFE-THREATENING MENINGITIS

Feb 11 • General News, International, Springboks • 1642 Views • Comments Off on SCHALK BURGER NOMINATED FOR LAUREUS COMEBACK OF THE YEAR AFTER LIFE-THREATENING MENINGITIS

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· Parents called to intensive care to say ‘goodbye’ but Schalk recovers
· Returns to Springbok team and is man of the match against England
· ‘I am sure now he will have his eye on making a big impact in the World Cup for the Springboks’ – says former South African rugby hero Morné du Plessis
· SIX Nominations in seven categories announced today in Shanghai
· Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony in Shanghai on April 15
· Apply for media accreditation at www.laureus.com/accreditation

SHANGHAI, February 11, 2015 – Schalk Burger’s fightback from life-threatening meningitis to play a key role once again in the Springboks team ahead of the Rugby World Cup has earned him nomination for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award, following a ballot by the world’s media.

A glittering collection of the world’s greatest sports stars have been nominated for the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards, with the names of the winners to be revealed in Shanghai on April 15, but Burger’s story of recovery and return to the heights of rugby is one of the most inspirational of the year.

Burger had a cyst next to his spinal cord and went into hospital for treatment, but developed bacterial meningitis and was moved to intensive care. He was in isolation and intensive care during which his parents were called to the hospital to say ‘goodbye’.

Schalk said: “There was a critical stage for nearly five days in which there was a lot of uncertainty. I was in isolation and I was seriously ill, so ill in fact that some people around me thought ‘this is it’.”

However, he recovered and made a remarkable comeback, being picked for the Springboks squad to play against Australia and New Zealand in the Rugby Championship. Then he was named man of the match in the November victory over England at Twickenham, in which he scored the decisive third try.

Doctors said the average person would never have made it back to top class competition, let alone be named man of the match in such a high pressure game.

Former Springboks captain Morné du Plessis, who was also manager of the 1995 World Cup winning team, said: “I have known Schalk and his family for many years and I know that there were very real concerns for his wellbeing during his illness. It really was a great relief for his family, friends and supporters to just see him well again, not even to think at that stage that he would make a miraculous comeback and be back to his best on the rugby pitch. I am sure now he will have his eye on making a big impact in the World Cup for the Springboks. Schalk is also a responsible and caring human being who has done a great deal to support the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in South Africa and he has been a wonderful Ambassador for Laureus.”

Also nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award are Italian footballer Francesco Acerbi, who recovered from cancer to return to Serie A and the Italy football squad, Diego Milito, who returned to his first club Racing to inspire them to their first Argentine title for 13 years, British runner Jo Pavey, who won the European Championships 10,000 metres gold medal at the age of 40, ten months after giving birth, Pierre Vaultier, who won the Winter Olympics snowboard gold just two months after ligament damage, and British golfer Oliver Wilson, who was 792nd in the world rankings when he won his first event after 228 European Tour starts.

The Nominations – six in each category – have set up some eye-catching confrontations. None more so than for the Laureus Team of the Year Award, where the shortlist has produced the ultimate football showdown: the German World Cup Team v Real Madrid, winners of a tenth Champions League.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo will once again be trying to become the first team player to win the individual Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, but he is up against some ferocious opposition. Last year he was beaten by Sebastian Vettel, this time he faces UK pair Lewis Hamilton and Rory McIlory, tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic, Spain’s World MotoGP champion Marc Márquez and Renaud Lavillenie, the French pole vaulter who broke Sergey Bubka’s 21-year-old world record.

The impact of the FIFA World Cup is also felt in the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year category where Germany’s Mario Götze, who scored the winning goal in the final, and Colombia’s James Rodriguez, winner of the Golden Boot as leading scorer, are both nominated.

Although not picked for an individual Award, record four-time Laureus winner Roger Federer receives two Nominations for the part he played, along with Stan Wawrinka, in the first ever success by the Swiss Davis Cup Team, who are shortlisted for both Team of the Year AND Breakthrough of the Year.

Serena Williams, nominated for Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, will be hoping for her record-equalling fourth Laureus Award, but she is challenged by the emotional appeal of China’s Li Na, who won her second Grand Slam in 2014, but had to retire later in the year. Among the other Nominees in this category are Winter Olympic gold medallists Tina Maze and Marit Bjørgen.

Wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden, who won the marathon Grand Slam of Boston, Chicago, London and New York for the second straight year, will be hoping to win the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award after missing out last year. This time, in a very strong category, her opponents include Roman Petushkov, the first athlete to win six gold medals at the Winter Paralympics and Anna Schaffelhuber, who won all five Alpine gold medals at Sochi.

Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore, six-time world surfing champion, will be bidding to win her second Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year Award. Her opposition includes Gabriel Medina, Brazil’s first ever men’s surfing world champion, and American skateboard sensation Nyjah Huston.

The full list of Nominees for the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards is:

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award
Novak Djokovic (Serbia) Tennis – won Wimbledon for second time; replaced Rafael Nadal as world No.1
Lewis Hamilton (UK) Motor Racing – won second Formula One World Championship, with 11 victories
Renaud Lavillenie (France) Athletics – broke Sergey Bubka’s 21-year-old pole vault world record
Rory McIlroy (UK) Golf – No.1 golfer in the world, won The Open and USPGA Major Championships
Marc Márquez (Spain) Motor Cycling – won his second straight World MotoGP title at the age of 21
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Football – winner of the Ballon d’Or/World Player of the Year award

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award
Valerie Adams (NZ) Athletics – undefeated in shot put for four years; was IAAF Women’s Athlete of Year
Marit Bjørgen (Norway) Nordic Skiing – in Sochi became most decorated female Winter Olympian
Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia) Athletics – broke three world records in three different events in two weeks
Tina Maze (Slovenia) Alpine Skiing – won two gold medals in the Winter Olympics, Slovenia’s first ever
Li Na (China) Tennis – won second Grand Slam, reached world No.2 ranking, then had to retire
Serena Williams (US) Tennis – won 18th career Grand Slam, level with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova

Laureus World Team of the Year Award
European Ryder Cup Team (Golf) – beat US 16½-11½, for third straight win and sixth in the last seven
Germany Men’s Football Team – became first European team to win the FIFA World Cup in South America
Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team (Germany) – won Constructors’ World Championship
Real Madrid Football Team (Spain) – won a record tenth Champions League/European Cup victory
San Antonio Spurs (US) Basketball – won NBA Championship for fifth time, beating Miami Heat 4-1
Switzerland Davis Cup Team (Tennis) – inspired by Roger Federer, won Davis Cup for the first time

Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award
Marin Cilić (Croatia) Tennis – won first ever Grand Slam at the US Open, beating Kei Nishikori in final
Mario Götze (Germany) Football – scored the winning goal for Germany in the FIFA World Cup Final
Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Motor Racing – won three Grand Prix for Red Bull in his rookie year
James Rodriguez (Colombia) Football – won Golden Boot in FIFA World Cup as leading scorer
Mikaela Shiffrin (US) Alpine Skiing – at 18 years 345 days became youngest Olympic Slalom champion
Switzerland Davis Cup Team (Tennis) – inspired by Roger Federer, won Davis Cup for the first time

Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award
Francesco Acerbi (Italy) Football – recovered from cancer to return to Serie A and the Italy football squad
Schalk Burger (S.Africa) Rugby – survived life-threatening bacterial meningitis to return to Springboks team
Diego Milito (Argentina) Football – returned to Racing who won the Argentine title for first time in 13 years
Jo Pavey (UK) Athletics – won European Championships 10,000 metres gold ten months after giving birth
Pierre Vaultier (France) Snowboarding – won Winter Olympics gold just two months after ligament damage
Oliver Wilson (UK) Golf – 792nd in the world rankings, he won his first event after 228 European Tour starts

Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award
Shelley Gautier (Canada) Cycling – has won all tricycle T1 UCI para-cycling world titles over past five years
Tatyana McFadden (US) Wheelchair Racing – won Boston, Chicago, London and New York marathons
Roman Petushkov (Russia) Nordic Skiing – first athlete to win six gold medals at a Paralympic Winter Games
Anna Schaffelhuber (Germany) Alpine Skiing – won all five Alpine gold medals at a Paralympic Winter Games
Sarah Storey (UK) Cycling – won four world titles in her first year back after giving birth to her daughter
Yuk Wing Leung (Hong Kong SAR China) Boccia – four golds at World Championships, Asian Para Games

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award
Alan Eustace (US) Skydiving – jumped 135,889ft to break Felix Baumgartner’s 2012 free fall world record
Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) Surfing – won her sixth World Surfing Championship
Nyjah Huston (US) Skateboarding – won X-Games Street gold medal with highest ever score of 95.00
Sage Kotsenburg (US) Snowboarding – won inaugural Slopestyle men’s gold medal at the Winter Olympics
Danny MacAskill (UK) Trials Cycling – rode treacherous Cuillin Ridge on Scotland’s Isle of Skye
Gabriel Medina (Brazil) Surfing – at 20, won Brazil’s first ever World Surfing Championship

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