Six Paralympians nominated for 2023 Laureus Sport Awards

Cameron Leslie, Catherine Debrunner, Declan Farmer, Diede De Groot, Jesper Saltvik Pedersen, and Oksana Masters have been shortlisted for the prestigious World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award 21 Feb 2023
Laureus 2023 nominees
Nominees announced for 2023 Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
ⒸLaureus Awards 2023
By IPC and Laureus

Six of the world’s best Paralympic athletes have been nominated for the 2023 Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award. They include New Zealand’s Para swimmer and wheelchair rugby player Cameron Leslie, Swiss wheelchair racer Catherine Debrunner, US Para ice hockey player Declan Farmer, Dutch wheelchair tennis player Diede De Groot, Norway's Para alpine skier Jesper Saltvik Pedersen, and US Para Nordic skier and cyclist Oksana Masters.

The Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award celebrates the remarkable achievements by a Para athlete in 2022. 

The Laureus World Sports Academy announced the nominees on Monday, 20 February, with the winner set to be revealed at a special awards ceremony held later this year.

The nominees

New Zealand’s dual sport athlete Cameron Leslie was in strong form in 2022, a year after withdrawing from the swimming and wheelchair rugby competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games due to family circumstances. At the 2022 World Para Swimming Championships in June, he won a gold and three silver medals. Four months later, he served as co-captain of the New Zealand squad that made it to the quarterfinals of the 2022 Wheelchair Rugby World Championship.

Switzerland’s Catherine Debrunner won several major wheelchair races in her debut marathon season and set a number of world records on the track. She won her first-ever marathon, the Berlin Marathon  in September 2022, and followed that up with a victory at the London Marathon 2022 seven days later, crossing the finish with a course record. Debrunner, who is a track specialist, also set four world records at the Nottwil 2022 Grand Prix in May.

US Para ice hockey player Declan Farmer had an unforgettable 2022. At Beijing 2022, the veteran player helped to lead his team to its fourth consecutive Paralympic gold medal. Making his third Games appearance, Farmer left China with a tournament-leading 18 points, including three of the five points scored against Canada in the final.

Dutchwoman Diede de Groot has been a dominant force on the wheelchair tennis scene since 2022. She made history in 2022 by becoming the first tennis player ever to win back-to-back calendar Grand Slams. She dropped just one set as she remained unbeaten in 38 singles matches in 2022, stretching her winning streak to 74 matches since the start of the 2021 Australian Open.

Norway’s Para alpine skier Jesper Saltvik Pedersen not only enjoyed his best season in 2022, but made the record books. At Beijing 2022, he picked up four golds and one silver medal to make him the most successful multi-medallist at the Games, regardless of sport and gender. He was also the only Para athlete in Beijing to win four gold medals. 

US Para Nordic skier and cyclist Oksana Masters became the most decorated US winter Paralympian of all time in 2022. She won medals in all seven of her events at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games and became the first Para athlete from the USA to earn seven medals at one Paralympic Games. She also competed at the World Para Snow Sports Championships and Para Cycling Road World Championships and earned eight medals, including four gold.

World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability nominees:

  • Cameron Leslie (New Zealand) Para swimming and wheelchair rugby
  • Catherine Debrunner (Switzerland) Para athletics
  • Declan Farmer (USA) Para ice hockey
  • Diede De Groot (Netherlands) Wheelchair Tennis
  • Jesper Saltvik Pedersen (Norway) Para alpine skiing
  • Oksana Masters (USA) Para Nordic skiing and Para cycling