Rachel Atherton wins prestigious Laureus award

The downhiller tops off the perfect season with Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year award.
By Rachel Verity

2016 couldn't have gone any better for Rachel Atherton. Not only did she claim a fourth World Championship title, but she also made history with her 15th consecutive win – an incredible feat that has since been acknowledged by the wider world.

Towards the end of last year, the downhill queen was crowned BT Sport’s Action Woman of the Year in the UK, and last night the perfect season was topped off with one of the most prestigious awards in the sporting world – Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year.

The Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year is Rachel Atherton! #Laureus17 #rachelatherton

A post shared by #Laureus17 (@laureussport) on

"I really thank the Academy members for giving me this honour. 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. I will carry this award with pride and I will use it to inspire all the future mountain bikers out there,” said Rachel.

Rachel Atherton during the finals of the UCI MTB World Cup: Stop 5- Fort William, June 5, 2016.
Rachel Atherton awarded prestigious Laureus award © Red Bull Content Pool

The Laureus Awards came into being in 2000 – with Nelson Mandela as their first patron – as part of a movement that uses the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage. There are six nominees per category as chosen by a panel, with the overall winners decided by members of the Laureus World Sports Academy in a secret voting ballot.

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

Rachel Atherton

Although Rachel is the first mountain biker to lift the Laureus trophy, previous nominations include Danny MacAskill, Darren Berrecloth, Julien Absalon and Anne Caro Chausson.

Rachel Atherton riding during the Vallnord DH Finals 2016
A perfect season of wins for Rachel Atherton © Nathan Hughes

Rachel was up against some tough competition, including surfer John Florence, snowboarder Chloe Kim and Freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru, who all demonstrated progression for their sports in 2016.

“I’m overwhelmed to be even mentioned 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," Rachel added.

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