Rachel Atherton has topped off her perfect season with one of the most prestigious awards in the sporting world - congratulations to the 2017 Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year!
The Laureus Awards were created in 2000 as part of Laureus Sport for Good, a movement that uses the power of sport to end violence. discrimination and disadvantage.
Nelson Mandela was Laureus' first patron and he believed passionately in the cause. In 2000 at the very first Awards Ceremony he said: "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. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination."
This philosophy remains the driving force behind Laureus' work, teaching young people to discover the best in themselves and delivering the skills and tools they need to succeed through the power of sport.
There are several categories of award, including World Sportsman of the Year, World Sportswoman of the Year (with a nomination for UK's Laura Kenny) and action Sportsperson of the Year.
6 nominees per category are chosen by panels including sports editors, writers and broadcasters with Specialist Panels overseeing the Action Sports and Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability category. The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy then vote by secret ballot to select the Award winners in all seven categories.
The Action Sports Award goes to "the sportsman or sportswoman who best demonstrates supreme athletic performance and achievement in action sports in the qualifying year". Rachel was up against some tough competition with her fellow nominees all boasting amazing progression for heir sports in 2016 but in the end the perfect season swung it for the Queen of Downhill.
The nominees for the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the year 2017 were Rachel Atherton, Pedro Barros (Brazilian skateboarder), Surfers John Florence and Tyler Wright, Chloe Kim (snowboarder, USA) and Kelly Sildaru (Freestyle skier)
Rachel said: "I'm overwhelmed to be even nominated in such a list! And it's great that four out of the six Action Sports nominees are women - how awesome is that! Chloe and Kelly are still in their teens, looks like Action Sports has a lot to look forward to!
Laureus have been at the forefront of encouraging all aspects of mountain-biking and honouring its stars. Rachel is the first mountain-biker to actually lift the Laureus trophy but a quick glance at previous nominations throws up some familiar names including Anne Caro Chausson, Julien Absalon, Danny MacAskill and Darren Berrecloth.
The awards were made in Monaco in a glittering ceremony hosted by Hugh Grant with celebrities from the worlds of entertainment, fashion and sport dancing the night away.
But instead of tripping down the red carpet, Rachel was hard at work with coach Nick Grantham at the team's training camp in California.
Rachel said: "I was gutted not to be able to make the ceremony; we looked at every available flight, about 100 different sets of scheduling but we just couldn't make it work.
I can't quite believe this is real and I am so delighted that my success this season and the sport of downhill mountain-biking as a whole has been recognised in the wider world of sport. I really thank the Academy members for giving me this honour, it makes it even more special that the award is voted for by the real legends of the sports, all of whom I have admired and been inspired by; every one of them knows exactly how many hours go into finally achieving your goal. What Laureus stands for and the work Laureus does to help young people around the world really means a lot to me, I fully believe that sport changes your life and gives you the tools to overcome anything. Thank you so much Laureus, I will carry this award with pride and I will use it to inspire all the future mountain-bikers out there."
Winners receive a Laureus statuette of the human from against an engraving of the continents designed by Cartier; something tell us that this trophy will be taking pride of place.
Images of Rachel: Sven Martin