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Ryder captain Olazábal wins Prince of Asturias Prize

Sporting award goes to two-time Masters winner ahead of Paralympian Teresa Perales and triathlete Gómez Noya

Juan Morenilla
José María Olazábal.
José María Olazábal. warren little (getty images)

Golfer José María Olazábal was named the winner of this year's Prince of Asturias Prize for Sports on Wednesday, beating out candidates such as Paralympian Teresa Perales, canoeist David Cal, triathlete Javier Gómez Noya and the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.

A brilliant player and ambassador for the sport, Olazábal is only the second golfer to receive the award, after Severiano Ballesteros in 1989. It is not the first time the Basque sportsman has followed in the footsteps of his late friend and mentor. In October 2012 he was the captain of a winning European Ryder Cup team, an honor he inherited from Ballesteros, who had led the victorious 1997 European squad.

In all, the 47-year-old has enjoyed five wins in six Ryder Cup appearances as a player and captain and he and Ballesteros are considered the best pairing in the history of the competition, with 11 wins in 13 matches.

Alone, he has 30 tournament victories to his name, including two Masters titles, in 1994 and 1999 — the latter his last major championship win.

"This prize is a great honor and means a lot; it has enormous value for me," Olazábal said after hearing of the decision in Munich, where is competing at the BMW International Open. "I was very thrilled to get it. I am delighted and very emotional because I knew how difficult it was for them to give it to me."

Recent winners of the prize included Rafa Nadal, Spain's World Cup-winning soccer team and runner Haile Gebrselassie.

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