When Valentino Rossi crashed at Mugello on June 5 while competing with Fiat Yamaha, thousands of fans and colleagues were devastated that the nine-time World Champion would miss most of the 2010 MotoGP season.
Although the horrific highside at practice in Mugello broke Rossi’s right leg, the Italian underwent a rigorous rehabilitation program and only missed four rounds: Mugello, Silverstone, Assen and Catalunya. Rossi shocked the MotoGP world when he returned to action at Sachsenring for the German Grand Prix on July 16, only five weeks after breaking his leg. Rossi also impressed the crowd with a fourth-place finish aboard the Yamaha M1.Rossi, who made the switch to the factory Ducati team after seven years with Yamaha, was recognized Monday by the Laureus Academy, winning the 2011 Laureus World Sports Award Comeback of the Year Prize.The Laureus Academy, which is made up of 46 of the greatest sportspeople of all time, voted Rossi’s remarkable return to action just 41 days after an exposed fracture of his right tibia as the comeback of the year. The Laureus Academy says Rossi held off competition from US golfer Paula Creamer, American sprinter Tyson Gay, Belgian tennis star Justine Henin, and athletes Carolina Kluft and Merlene Ottey to take the prize.Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal was named Sportsman of the Year and American skier Lindsey Vonn the Sportswoman of the Year at the Laureus ceremony in Abu Dhabi, which also bestowed awards in Team, Breakthrough, Sportsperson with a Disability, and Action Sportsperson of the Year categories, as well as Lifetime Achievement, Spirit of Sport and Sport for Good Awards, the Laureus Academy says.Besides the Mugello crash, Rossi also suffered a shoulder injury during the 2010 MotoGP season. Rossi injured the shoulder during motocross training early last season, and it hampered his ability to keep pace with former Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who won the 2010 World Motorcycle Championship. Rossi underwent surgery in November, and continues to recover. He had the surgery after making the switch to the Ducati team after seven years with Yamaha. During the first official MotoGP test session of 2011 at Sepang, Rossi expereminted with different riding styles on the Ducati GP11. He finished the test 11th overall.