- Keith Hamm, Action Sports
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The Association of Surfing Professionals' 11-time world champion Kelly Slater joined an elite lineup on Monday in London to accept the 2012 Laureus World Sports Award for Action Sportsperson of the Year.
The honor ties Slater, who turns 40 on Saturday, with Swiss tennis pro Roger Federer for the most Laureus World Sports Awards, at four.
"I'd like to thank the Laureus Awards for putting this together, recognizing action sports, recognizing what we do, and including us in such an honorable event," Slater said at the ceremony. "To have surfing recognized is, for me, just a huge thing in my life, and to win this award for the fourth time is incredible."
The Quiksilver-sponsored American also won the Laureus in '07, '09, and last year. This year, his stiffest competition was two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White (who has been nominated for the Laureus six times, with a win in '08). Slater also faced dominant BMX vert pro Jamie Bestwick, pioneering snowboarder Travis Rice, and 19-year-old Carissa Moore, the ASP 2011 Women's World Champion. In a statement, the Laureus World Sports Academy called Slater "the dominant surfer of his generation [and] one of the greatest sportsmen of all time."
Laureus Academy Member Tony Hawk said, "This is a historic moment with Kelly Slater; he had a stellar year."
Academy Chairman Edwin Moses added, "When Federer won his fourth Laureus Award in 2008, I think there were some of us who thought that could never happen again, but just four years on and Kelly has caught him. It's a remarkable performance, the more so because Kelly just seems to be getting better as he gets older."
Slater's lifetime achievement in competitive surfing spans two decades, and he carries the singular distinction of being the ASP's youngest and oldest world champion.
The Florida-born regular-footer is expected to don a singlet once again later this month at the ASP World Tour's season opener, the Quiksilver Pro presented by Land Rover. The event window opens Feb. 25 on Australia's Gold Coast.
Kelly Slater wins his fourth Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year