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Federer, Bolt in Running for Sportsman of the Year Award

Swiss Tennis champion Roger Federer and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt are among the contenders for the 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards, which will be handed out in the United Arab Emirates next month.

Six athletes have been officially nominated for this year's Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award.

In addition to Bolt, who claimed the title last year and Federer, who has won it four times in the past, Ethiopian track star Kenesisa Bekele, Spanish cycling champion Alberto Contador, Argentinian football (soccer) hero Lionel Messi and motor cycling's Valentino Rossi of Italy are also in the running.

The Laureus awards are widely regarded as the premier honors on the international sporting calendar and nominees are selected by leading sports journalists in over 100 countries.

The winners will be chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, a group of nearly 50 living sporting legends, at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi on March 10.

Indian cricket star Kapil Dev is a member of the group and says the selection process is always tough.

"All the academy members find it difficult to pick one sports person who is the best," he said.

Fellow selector and track legend Edwin Moses says it will be difficult for Usain Bolt to win the title for a second consecutive year.

"I think it's going to be tough because of some of the other performances of last year, particularly Roger Federer," he said. "No one thought he would have the year that he had last year."

In addition to naming the top male athlete of the year, Laureus will also be crowning the best sportswoman.

Leading the list of nominees are the world's number one tennis player Serena Williams and skiing champion Lindsey Vonn.

There's also a Team of the Year award. The New York Yankees baseball team, the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team and FC Barcelona football (soccer) team are all in contention.