Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar has won the greatest Laureus Sporting Moment Award in the last 20 years.
The moment, titled ‘Carried on the shoulders of a nation’, describing the moment when Team India members carried Tendulkar on their shoulders across the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai following their 2011 World Cup victory, received the maximum number of votes by the fans.
In his sixth appearance in the showpiece event, Tendulkar and the Indian team finally tasted success as they defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the final. It was watched live by an estimated 135 million fans across India on April 2, 2011.
Tendulkar, widely regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket, was carried on the shoulders by the Indian team players. He had made a lap of honour in front of raucous cheers, shedding tears of joy after achieving such a momentous victory in his home city.
“It’s incredible. The feeling of winning the world cup was beyond what words can express. How many times you get an event happening where there are no mixed opinions. Very rarely the entire country celebrates,” the 46-year-old said after receiving the trophy from former Australian skipper Steve Waugh handed the trophy to Tendulkar at a glittering ceremony on Monday evening.
“And this is a reminder of how powerful sport is and what magic it does to our lives. Even now when I watch that (moment), it has stayed with me.”
Tennis legend Brois Becker, who had announced the winner, then asked Tendulkar to share the emotions he felt at that time and the Master Blaster put in perspective how important it was for him to hold that trophy.
“My journey started in 1983 when I was 10 years old. India had won the World Cup. I did not understand the significance and just because everybody was celebrating, I also joined the party,” said Tendulkar.
“But somewhere I knew something special has happened to the country and I wanted to experience it one day and that’s how my journey began.
“It was the proudest moment of my life, holding that trophy which I chased for 22 years but I never lost hope. I was merely lifting that trophy on behalf of my countrymen,” he added.
Tendulkar, who is regarded as one of the greatest batsmen to have played the game of cricket, also shared the impact South Africa’s first black President and freedom advocate Nelson Mandela had on him. Tendulkar revealed he met him when he was just 19-years-old.
“His hardship did not affect his leadership. Out of many messages he left, the most important I felt was that sport has got the power to unite everyone.
“Today, sitting in this room with so many athletes, some of them did not have everything but they made the best of everything they had. I thank them for inspiring youngsters to pick a sport of their choice and chase their dreams. This trophy belongs to all of us, it’s not just about me,” said Tendulkar.
Apart from Tendulkar, former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff was the other cricketer who featured in the list of greatest Laureus Sporting Moment.