Sportel Awards: Peace and overcoming adversity central to awards

sportel monaco

From a touching tribute to the late Sir Bobby Charlton to praise for promising future stars, the 2023 Sportel Awards were a night to remember for the sporting personalities and top athletes who walked the emerald green carpet of the Grimaldi Forum Monday night. 

Key figures from the sporting world converged on the Grimaldi Forum on Monday 23rd October to celebrate the excellence and achievements of the past year.  

Sporting legends and rising stars alike graced the Prince Pierre Auditorium alongside members of Monaco’s ruling Grimaldi family, with the likes of Pierre Casiraghi and Louis Ducruet, accompanied by his wife Marie, among the distinguished guests. 

The main focus of the ceremony, brilliantly hosted by French rugby icon Marc Maury, was to unveil the 2023 laureates, but a touching tribute was given to Sir Bobby Charlton, the legendary English football player who had passed just days before, adding a deeply emotional note to the event. 

2023 winners 

A panel of experts, led by Mélina Robert Michon, the vice-world champion and French discus record holder, was entrusted with the task of selecting the deserving champions. 

The Documentary Prize was awarded to ‘Villeneuve Pironi’, a film that unravels the intricate story of the former Formula 1 Ferrari teammates, Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi. Torquil Jones, the documentary’s director and producer, took the stage to accept the honour, underlining the fundamental role of trust in the art of storytelling. 

“The families placed their faith in us to narrate their tale, and trust serves as the foundation of meaningful storytelling,” he told a captivated audience.

The Peace and Sport Documentary Prize went to ‘Rise: The Siya Kolisi Story’, a profoundly personal portrayal of Siya Kolisi, the first black rugby captain for the Springboks. This documentary delves into the challenges confronted by the black South African community, particularly enduring inequality and racism, and highlights how unity prevails in moments of adversity.  

Upon accepting the award, the film’s director, Tebogo Malope, aptly remarked, “There has never been a more timely moment to advocate for peace than the present.” 

The Jury Special Prize went to the documentary ‘One-Armed Wonder: The Extraordinary Story of Jimmy Hasty’, an emotional story about an amputee footballer who put the Irish Dundalk football club on the map. 

Legend Award goes to Katarina Witt

The culmination of the evening came with the presentation of the Legend Award to Katarina Witt, a two-time figure skating world champion. Pierre Casiraghi, representing Prince Albert II at the event, personally handed Witt her award, which sees her join a prestigious list of Sportel “Legends” that includes the likes of Didier Deschamps and Alain Prost.  

“Through the most outstanding sporting images of the year that have been rewarded this evening, we are honouring all the champions of all disciplines, and that is the soul of our event,” said Loris Menoni, Executive Director of the Sportel Awards. “All these top sportsmen and women inspire admiration for their rigour and courage. It’s important to give them the recognition they deserve.” 

Click here for the full list of winners. 


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Photo by Monaco Life