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All Blacks, Crusaders miss out at Laureus Awards

Published: 9:02AM Tuesday February 07, 2012 Source: ONE Sport / Newstalk ZB

The All Blacks and Crusaders have missed out at the Laureus Sports Awards in London.

Spanish and European football champions Barcelona have been named team of the year, while Northern Irish golfer Darren Clarke has received the comeback award.

World tennis number one Novak Djokovic has been named the sportsman of the year, while Kenyan distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot has been given the sportswoman of the year gong.

US surfer Kelly Slater has received a record-equalling fourth Laureus Award, named the action sportsperson of the year.

The World Cup winning All Blacks were finalists for Team of the Year while the Crusaders were contenders for Comeback of the Year.

The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the year, are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar.  

The All Blacks' 8-7 Rugby World Cup triumph over France put an end to 24 years of bitter disappointment for New Zealand rugby fans and helped to ease the minds of a nation still grieving and recovering from national tragedies with the Christchurch earthquakes and the Pike River mining disaster.

The Crusaders' nomination acknowledged the tremendous effort and spirit shown by the squad who were forced to play all of their home matches away, as their home ground AMI Stadium suffered severe damage during the Christchurch earthquakes.

Despite the obvious difficulties facing a team without a home base, the Crusaders managed to defy the odds and advance through to the final of the Super 15, eventually going down to the Queensland Reds 18-13.

Nominees for the awards included 42 athletes and teams in seven categories.

The All Blacks are in elite company with their nomination, Japan's women's football team, the Ashes-winning England cricket side, NBA side the Dallas Mavericks, and the Red Bull motor racing outfit were the other contenders.

FC Barcelona were also contenders for the Comeback of the Year, along with French footballer Eric Abidal, who successfully won his battle with cancer, golfer Sergio Garcia, and the Queensland Reds Super Rugby side.

Serbian tennis champ Djokovic was favoured for the Sportsman of the Year award, although he faced strong competition from the likes of Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi, sprinter Usain Bolt, Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel, basketballer Dirk Nowitzki and cyclist Cadel Evans.

Vivian Cheruiyot was the favourite for her award, though she beat a stron field with tennis player Petra Kvitova, skier Maria Hofl-Riesch, sprinter Carmelita, golf's Yani Tseng, or football's Homare Sawa also in the running.

The winners are chosen by the Laureus Academy Members and proceeds from the Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Foundation.