Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Jose Maria Olazabal   (Getty Images)
Jose Maria Olazabal (Getty Images)

José María Olazábal has been announced as the recipient of the 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Sports, Spain’s most prestigious sports award.

Describing Olazábal as "one of the greatest golfers in history," the award jury pointed to the Spaniard's two Masters wins and four Ryder Cups, "a competition in which he also demonstrated his leadership ability when captaining the European team to an epic comeback in 2012."

The 47 year old is a "worthy successor to the spirit of the legendary Severiano Ballesteros," the late Spanish golfing great who won the Asturias Award in 1989, the jury said.

“I’m over the moon,” said Olazábal from the BMW International Open in Munich where he is competing this week. “First of all I want to thank the Royal Spanish Federation for nominating me as a candidate, and also my colleagues for their support. I got a little bit emotional when I got the news this morning, because it’s a very special award. Some great sportsmen have won it in the past, including Seve, so to follow in his footsteps is fantastic.

“It’s very difficult even to get nominated for the award, so I never thought I’d win it, to be honest. Without question this is the most prestigious award I’ve ever received, so it’s a real honour. I don’t feel like I deserve it necessarily, but it’s very nice to receive it. I didn’t expect to win it, but now that I have I couldn’t be happier. I’ve always tried to conduct myself in the right way both on and off the course, and hopefully this is recognition of that.”

The Sports Award is bestowed upon the individual, group or institution whose lives are not only examples to others, but who have also reached new heights in mankind’s struggle for excellence, and who have contributed by their efforts to perfecting, nurturing, promoting and disseminating sport

There are eight awards across different social categories including arts, science and literature with previous recipients including such figures as Nelson Mandela, Woody Allen, Mijail Gorbachov, Joanne Kathleen Rowling, Arthur Miller, Stephen Hawking, Umberto Eco, Günter Grass, Plácido Domingo, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, Hicham El Guerrouj, Yehudi Menuhim, Mstislav Rostropovich, Paco de Lucía, Severiano Ballesteros, John Glenn, Susan Sontag, Anthony Giddens, Jean Daniel, Claudio Magris, Lula Da Silva, Hussein I of Jordan, and organisations such as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Spain's Crown Prince Felipe will present the awards at a ceremony in October in the northern city of Oviedo.

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