To reach the pinnacle of one’s sporting discipline is an incredibly impressive feat. Although the wages, sponsorship deals and stardom that athletes receive is the envy of billions, many people forget the blood, sweat and tears that goes into their success over many years. Sacrifices are made, efforts are exhausted and, with a little bit of luck, goals are achieved.
Of course, team sports are often more popular than individual endeavors and trophies such as the ICC Cricket World Cup, the FIFA World Cup and the Super Bowl are among the most coveted trophies on offer. However, recognition for individual achievement is just as important, which is why there are a number of awards doled out to those who have shone the brightest in their chosen sport. Here are four of the most prestigious.
ICC Cricketer of the Year
The Cricketer of the Year award was introduced by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for men in 2004 and women in 2006. Their aim is to recognize the most impressive international cricket player over the previous 12 months. Throughout their history, only one man (Virat Kohli) has won the accolade twice, claiming back-to-back gongs in 2017 and 2018. Two women (Ellyse Perry and Smriti Mandhana) have won the award twice, though neither did so in consecutive years. In 2022, the awards were claimed by Babar Azam and Nat Sciver.
Super Ballon d’Or
We’ve all heard of the Ballon d’Or, or Golden Ball, which is awarded the best footballer in the world across a calendar year. But are you familiar with the Super Ballon d’Or? This extremely rare award is given to the best player of the last 30 years – but only if there is a standout candidate for it. To date, Alfredo di Stefano is the only recipient of the Super Ballon d’Or, fending off competition from Michel Platini in 1989. However, the fact that Leo Messi has won seven of the last Ballon d’Ors – alongside his recent World Cup triumph – means we could have a new winner very soon.
Once the Super Bowl is done and dusted, the Associated Press nominate the best players from across the NFL season for several different accolades – though the most prestigious of these is the Most Valuable Player, or MVP. This can incorporate both offensive and defensive players, though due to their high-scoring impact on the game, the list is invariably dominated by quarterbacks and wide receivers. This year’s award is yet to be decided, though four of the five nominees are QBs and the other is a WR.
Super Slam winner
The tennis calendar year is dominated by the four major Grand Slam events, which are: the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. If a player wins all four throughout their career or in a single year, they claim the accolade of Career or Calendar Grand Slam winner. However, if they add an Olympic Gold medal and the year-end championship to their haul, they can become a Super Slam winner. While there is no physical award in this instance, it’s the most prestigious achievement a tennis player can make.
Which of the four awards listed above is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.