Chinese double amputee Xia Boyu's extraordinary achievement in climbing Mt. Qomolangma last May, four decades after losing both legs to frostbite in a previous attempt to conquer it, was declared the Sporting Moment of the Year at the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco on Monday.
Laureus Ambassador David Coulthard announces the Laureus Sporting Moment of the Year 2019 winner Xia Boyu on stage with Laureus Academy Member Li Xiaopeng during the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards on February 18, 2019 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo: VCG)
Xia lost both legs in 1975 as a result of frostbite during his first attempt to reach the world's highest peak of Qomolangma. He challenged the summit in 2014, 2015 and 2016 as well, but his dreams were shattered by an avalanche, earthquake and bad weather respectively.
He finally made it in his fifth attempt on May 14, 2018, becoming the first Chinese double amputee climber to reach the summit of Qomolangma.
"Reaching the summit of Qomolangma was always a dream and goal for me," Xia told Chinese media. "I have fought for it over the past decades. Despite bad knocks several times, I never give up. I think the perseverance made my life so colorful and meaningful."
Xia Boyu received the most public votes in the global Laureus Sporting Moment of the Year. (Photo: CGTN)
Xia added that his next goal will be "7+2", namely the highest summits of seven continents, plus the South Pole and North Pole.
His achievement was lauded by two Chinese members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, Olympic gymnastics gold medalist Li Xiaopeng and table tennis Grand Slam winner Deng Yaping.
"As an athlete, I'm well aware of the difficulty, because we want to challenge ourselves for every day, every minute and every second. Young people should learn from Xia's fighting spirit. It's quite positive for the society," Li said.
Deng said, "It's a story of chasing dreams, climbing summits and realizing self value. No matter climbing Qomolangma or being involved in other sports, persistence is the most important thing, especially when you fail once and once again."
Biles and Djokovic win top honors
Laureus World Sportsman of The Year 2019 winner Novak Djokovic speaks on stage with his trophy during the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards on February 18, 2019 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo: VCG)
Novak Djokovic's stupendous comeback from injury last year which saw him win two Grand Slam titles earned him the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award.
The 31-year-old Serbian – who added the Australian Open in January to the Wimbledon and U.S. Open crowns he won in 2018 after coming back from elbow surgery – won the award for a fourth time beating the likes of France's World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe and NBA superstar LeBron James.
Iconic American gymnast Simone Biles won Sportswoman of the Year for a second time on the back of the 21-year-old's historic achievement last year in adding a fourth all-around world championship to her full to bursting medals cabinet.
Djokovic was delighted with his award – voted on by the 68 members of the Laureus Academy which includes sporting legends such as nine-time singles Grand Slam champion Monica Seles and Britain's six-time Olympic track cycling gold medalist Chris Hoy.