verstappen dutch sportsman of the year
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Verstappen Dutch Sportsman of the Year

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Formule 1 driver Max Verstappen
The Hague - ArabToday

Formule 1 driver Max Verstappen was named Dutch Sportsman of the Year at a gala in Amsterdam on Wednesday night, while Olympic gold winning gymnast Sanne Wevers became Sportswomen of the Year.

The 19-year-old Verstappen became the first Dutchman to win a Formula 1 race on May 15 this year by crossing the finish line first in Barcelona. With his win he also became the youngest driver ever to win a Formula One grand prix at the age of 18 years and 228 days. The Red Bull driver finished 5th in the World Championship final table.

In the voting among fellow sports women and men and a jury Verstappen beat wind surfer Dorian van Rijsselberghe, swimmer Ferry Weertman, cyclist Tom Dumoulin and speed skater Sven Kramer. Verstappen was not present to receive his award, but spoke to the audience through a video message.

"I am very honored to be chosen as Sportsman of the Year," he said. "Very grateful for this award which caps off a great 2016 for me. I will remember the win in Barcelona forever. Also because I was able to meet Johan Cruyff a few months before the race. I am very glad I got this opportunity."

Dutch soccer legend Cruyff died at the age of 68 on March 24 this year. He was honored during the gala night with a song, a video showing highlights of his career and former soccer player Frank Rijkaard reading out an emotional tribute.

Wevers got her reward by becoming the first Dutch female gymnast to claim an individual Olympic gold medal, winning the balance beam event at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Her father Vincent Wevers, who coached his daughter to Olymic gold and the Dutch women to the Olympic final, became Coach of the Year.

Rowers Maaike Head and Ilse Paulis were chosen Team of the Year for their Olympic gold medal in the lightweight double sculls in Rio de Janeiro. The 16-year-old visually-impaired swimmer Liesette Bruinsma became Paralympian Sporter of the Year for winning five medals, of which two gold, at the Paralympics in Rio and gymnast Eythora Thorsdottir got the Young Talent-award.

source: Xinhua

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