Sebastian Vettel and Missy Franklin scoop Laureus awards

Last Updated: 26/03/14 4:59pm

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Sebastian Vettel: Hailed as 2013's leading sportsman

Sebastian Vettel: Hailed as 2013's leading sportsman

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Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel and swimmer Missy Franklin have been crowned 2013 Laureus Sportsman and Sportswoman of the year respectively.

The ceremony in Malaysia was a subdued affair in the wake of the MH370 plane disaster, with award winners paying tribute to those who had lost their lives on board the flight.

The event, which featured some of the leading figures in world sport, was preceded by a moment's silence for the 239 people killed when the Malaysia Airlines plane crashed in the Indian Ocean in unexplained circumstances.

Germany's treble-winners Bayern Munich edged out New Zealand's rugby side for team of the year, while Rafael Nadal won comeback of the year at the awards show in Kuala Lumpur.

Vettel, F1's youngest four-time world champion and in the capital for this week's Malaysian Grand Prix, won sportsman of 2013 ahead of Usain Bolt, LeBron James, Nadal, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mo Farah.

"If I've learned anything tonight, surely it's the fact that sport can be a very, very big inspiration," said Vettel.

"I've come here and seen many heroes of mine... this (award) is very inspirational, very special."

Franklin, who won a record six gold medals at last year's world championships, beat the likes of Serena Williams and Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva to the women's award.

Nadal won comeback of the year for his recovery from a career-threatening knee injury, with the Spaniard winning the French Open and US Open titles to return to world No 1.

"Everyone knew how tough last year was with my injury. I thought I would never have the chance to come back," said Nadal, who picked up the third Laureus award of his career.

Elsewhere, Afghanistan's cricket team were honoured with a spirit of sport award after they came through the long-running conflict in their country to qualify for the 2015 World Cup.

Spanish MotoGP rider Marc Marquez won breakthrough of the year for becoming his sport's youngest world champion at the age of 20 years, with British BMX rider Jamie Bestwick claiming the action sports award.

Meanwhile, French skier Marie Bochet, who was born without a left forearm, was named best sportsperson with a disability.

A secret ballot involving a 46-strong panel of sporting greats was used to select the winners, with Bobby Charlton, Steve Waugh, Johan Cruyff, Sebastian Coe, Mark Spitz and Nadia Comaneci among those in attendance at the awards ceremony.

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