Newly minted 2017 World Champions Tyler Wright and John John Florence now have another honor to their respective lists of accomplishments: Both surfers have been nominated for Laureus Awards in the World Action Sportsperson of the Year category. Along with the two Champs, who each won their second consecutive Titles in December, snowboarders Anna Gasser and Mark McMorris, skateboarder Nyjah Huston and French sailor Armel Le Cléac'h, were nominated for the award. In the past, WSL surfers including Kelly Slater, Layne Beachley and Stephanie Gilmore have all won the prestigious prize.
According to its website, the Laureus Sport for Good foundation was the brainchild of South African Johann Rupert -- now the chairman of Swiss luxury goods company Richemont -- as a means to use "the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage." He teamed up with Daimler, the German automaker, to launch Laureus in 2000. Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa who helped end apartheid there, was a special guest at that first ceremony. His vision is reportedly core to the principles on which Laureus is still based.
For Wright and Florence, the nominations are impressive gilding on what have already been the two most successful years of their respective careers. Wright, who has been on the women's elite Championship Tour since 2011, has never finished outside of the Top 5 in the world. Long considered a shoo-in for the WSL World Title, the Australian broke out in 2016, winning her first Championship during the Roxy Pro France. In 2017 she was in the running yet again, but faced possible derailment after tearing a ligament toward the end of the season. Despite her injury, however, Wright somehow powered through: Armed with a bulky, plastic knee brace and aggressive medical care, Wright continued to compete through the final two events, winning the Title nonetheless.
Like Wright, Florence was also in the surfing spotlight from an early age -- perhaps more so than any other surfer on the current Championship Tour. Unlike Wright, however, he had flashes of brilliance on the competitive circuit that made him a fan favorite, but oscillated between stellar CT results and those that were less so. He, too, however, found his contest mojo in 2016, earning his first World Title in Portugal. He followed it up in 2017, winning a second World Title on his home turf of Oahu's North Shore.
The Laureus Awards ceremony will take place in Monaco at the end of February.