German racing star Sophia Floersch was presented with the prestigious Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award, following her impressive comeback after the Macau crash.
The German capital of Berlin hosted this year one of the biggest nights in the sport industry: the Laureus Sports Award ceremony.
Frequently compared to the night of the Oscars, the Laureus World Sports Academy assigns every year since 2000 the most prestigious awards to elite sports personalities who have excelled on the global stage.
And indeed, all the Laureus recipients had distinguished themselves for extraordinary achievements: Michael Schumacher, Roger Federer, Usain Bolt, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Lindsay Vonn are just some of the names that were presented with the Cartier statuette throughout the years.
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” - were the words of the inaugural Laureus patron, Nelson Mandela.
Those words inspired over 160 programmes in 40 countries, as Laureus supported projects that helped to improve the lives of countless young people through the power of sport.
The Academy members, overseeing the Laureus Sport for Good projects, are also in charge of selecting the sporting icons of the year, celebrated in style in a star-studded ceremony.
Among the 2020 nominees, a familiar name: German racing star Sophia Floersch was nominated in the "Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award" category, following her 2018 horrifying crash at the Macau Grand Prix.
Sophia eventually went on to win the prize and climbed the stage to receive the beautiful statuette.
"This is a dream come true, to be honest." - said Floersch with a voice slightly broken by the emotion. "First of all, I'm really happy to be here and to hold this in my hands now.
It's a big honor to stand here in front of you all, my idols, who I look up to. This is incredible."
Floersch, who famously made her return to the racing scene just 106 days after a spinal injury and competed in the Formula 3 Regional European Championship in 2019, succeeds golfer Tiger Woods for the best comeback prize. She is the second auto racing personality to receive the award, after Alex Zanardi in 2005.
"I started the sport as I was four, I loved it from the first moment onwards." - she explained.
"I had this crash in Macau - the video was very bad but for me in the car it didn't feel that bad. I remember everything, it happens so quick you don't even realize it."
"I want to thank my parents and my little sister, who I think actually had an even harder time then me at the time. I want to thank Toto Wolff and Mercedes F1 Team, who helped me in that week. They helped me with Doctor Ceccarelli, who was next to me during the whole week in Macau in hospital."
"It was a hard time, but I always had the goal to come back in a racecar, which happened one hundred and six days later."
Sophia Floersch is currently considered one of the brightest female talents in motorsport and was recently announced as part of an all-female crew for the upcoming ELMS season. Together with Richard Mille Racing team, she will target the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. But her main goal remains the Formula 1 dream, as the pinnacle of motorsport has been a fully-male dominated world since 1976.
2019 Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton shared the top prize of the night with football superstar Lionel Messi, winning the Laureus Sportsman of the Year.
The British driver also used his acceptance speech to address the issue of diversity in his sport:
"I grew up in a sport that has really given my life meaning. I'm so greateful for what has provided me. But I've actually grown up in a sport that has very little to no diversity, and I think it's an issue that we are continually facing." - said Hamilton.
"I think it's all our responsibility to use our platform to really push for gender equality, for inclusivity".
American gymnast Simon Biles won the accolade for "Sportswoman of the Year", facing some quality competition from fellow nominees Megan Rapinoe (football) and Mikaela Schiffrin (alpine skiing).
Floersch, 19, was the youngest recipient of an award on Monday night.
"Having this [award] in my hands now is incredible, I'm really thankful." - concluded the German. "Thanks to the Academy for letting me win it and hopefully I'm going to be here in some years again as a Sportswoman of the Year."
Watch Sophia Floersch's full acceptance speech:
Cover Photo Credits: Simon Hofmann / 2020 Getty Images