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Bolt, Ennis honored at Laureus awards

updated 8:24 AM EDT, Tue March 12, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis win main prizes at the 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards
  • Jamaica's Bolt repeated his Beijing Olympic triple success at London 2012
  • Britain's Ennis clinched the heptathlon gold medal at her home Games
  • U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps and Dominican hurdler Felix Sanchez also honored

(CNN) -- Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis have been named the best athletes on the planet at the 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards in recognition of their gold medal success at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Jamaican sprint star Bolt was named sportsman of the year after he successfully defended the 100 meters, 200m and 4 x 100m relay gold medals at the London Games -- becoming the first man in history to do so.

Bolt was unable to attend the ceremony in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, which will host the 2016 Olympics, but he did appear to collect the award via hologram.

"This is victory for track and field," the 26-year-old said via his official Twitter account after winning the accolade for the third time following previous successes in 2009 and 2010.

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"Thanks to all the fans for the support over the years and the Laureus academy for selecting me for the 3rd time."

Ennis was one of the faces of London 2012, delighting British fans in the Olympic Stadium by clinching heptathlon gold at her home Games.

"It's been a whirlwind," the 27-year-old told CNN. "It's been an absolute dream to have come into a home Olympics and to have been able to perform the way I had always hoped and to them experience all these amazing award ceremonies to be here tonight with some amazing sports people."

The team of the year honor was awarded to Europe's Ryder Cup golf side, which launched a stirring final-day comeback to beat its American counterpart at the 2012 tournament at Medinah in Illinois.

Jose Maria Olazabal's team trailed Davis Love III's U.S. 10-6 heading into the final day's play, but won eight and tied one of the singles rubbers to retain to the cup.

American swimmer Michael Phelps was recognized with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award, which was handed out for the first time.

He became the most decorated Olympian of all time at London 2012, taking his total of medals to 22 and his haul of gold medals to 18.

"Being able to be here with not only all of these great athletes but these great actors and actresses from all over the world, it's something new to me," Phelps, who has taken to golf since quitting the pool, told CNN.

Felix Sanchez was rewarded with the Comeback of the Year award after he regained the Olympic 400 meters hurdles title he had won eight years earlier.

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The 35-year-old from the Dominican Republic provided one of the most emotional moments in London, displaying a picture of his recently deceased grandmother after taking gold.

"This makes everything and all the dedication and all the hard work that went into this season and all of last season all that much more fulfilling," Sanchez said.

Tennis star Andy Murray won the breakthrough prize after ending Britain's 76-year wait for a men's grand slam title at the U.S. Open, and also claimed the Olympic singles event, while Brazilian swimmer Daniel Dias was named best athlete with a disability for the second time after winning six gold medals -- all in world-record times -- at the London 2012 Paralympics.

Full list of 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards winners:

Sportsman of the Year: Usain Bolt (athletics)

Sportswoman of the Year: Jessica Ennis (athletics)

Team of the Year: European Ryder Cup team (golf)

Breakthrough of the Year: Andy Murray (tennis)

Comeback of the Year: Felix Sanchez (athletics)

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Daniel Dias (swimming)

Action Sportsperson of the Year: Felix Baumgartner (sky diving)

Lifetime Achievement Award: Sebastian Coe (athletics)

Exceptional Achievement Award: Michael Phelps (swimming)

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