By Tom Degun

michael-phelps swimmingMarch 2 - Swimming legend Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, will be attending the prestigious 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards in Rio de Janeiro next month.

The 27-year-old from Baltimore retired following London 2012 with a total of 22 Olympic medals, 18 of which are gold, to secure his status as one of the greatest athletes in history.

He claimed six medals in his final Olympics with four gold and two silvers to earn nomination for the 2013 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award.

But the American faces stiff competition from Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, British distance runner Mo Farah, Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi, German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel and British cyclist Bradley Wiggins to secure the prize.

Phelps has been shortlisted for the prize five times in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009 and now 2013, but has failed to win it on the four previous occasions.

He lost out to German Formula One driver Michael Schumacher in 2004, Swiss tennis star Roger Federer in 2005 and 2008 and then Bolt in 2009.

The 2013 winner will be announced at Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro on March 11 where prizes will also be awarded for Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, Laureus World Team of the Year, Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year, Laureus World Comeback of the Year, Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year.

Laureus-World-Sports-AwardsThe 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards will be held in Rio de Janeiro on March 11

"Everyone is delighted that the Laureus Awards is being staged in Rio de Janeiro as the city builds up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games said Laureus World Sports Academy chairman Edwin Moses, the double Olympic 400 metre hurdles champion.

"The Laureus Awards Ceremony following an Olympic year is always very special and we are going to have some of the greatest Olympians and Paralympians from London there, including of course Michael Phelps, whose achievements throughout his career are just astounding.

"I know he will receive a wonderful welcome."

The 2012 awards in London saw Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic and Kenyan long-distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot take the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year prizes respectively with FC Barcelona taking the team prize.

Golfer Rory McIlroy received the breakthrough award, Darren Clarke the comeback accolade, Oscar Pistorius the disability trophy and Kelly Slater the action sportsperson prize.

In addition, there was a lifetime achievement prize for late Laureus World Sports Academy member Sir Bobby Robson.

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