By Nick Butler

Sebastian Vettel receiving his World Sportsman of the Year award ©Getty ImagesMarch 26 - Four time world Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel has been named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year at the awards ceremony in Kuala Lumpar.

Germany's Vettel, at 26 years and 116 days the youngest four-time world champion in history, won after being being unsuccessfully nominated for the main award on five previous occasions. 

By comfortably winning the World Championships in 2013 he joined a pantheon of greats in the sport including Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost, all of whom won at least four titles but at an older age than Vettel.

He beat off opposition from world champion athletes Usain Bolt and Mo Farah, basketball star LeBron James, tennis player Rafael Nadal and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Vettel is a relative veteran, however, in comparison with the 18-year-old winner of the women's award, swimmer Missy Franklin.

Following her four gold medals at London 2012, US star Franklin earned six titles at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona across the freestyle, backstroke and relay events, the most ever won by a female swimmer in one Championships. 

Missy Franklin was named the youngest ever winner of the female award ©Getty ImagesMissy Franklin was named the youngest ever winner of the female award ©Getty Images

Her opponents consisted of four other Olympians, Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser Price, Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, US tennis player Serena Williams and German footballer Nadine Angerer.

On a good night for Germany, Vettel's success was followed by a win for European Champions League winners Bayern Munich in the team category ahead of other nominated contenders, including the Brazil football team and the New Zealand rugby team.

There were also non-Olympian winners in two of the other categories with British BMX veteran Jamie Bestwick winning the Action Award. 

After winning the World MotoGP Championship at just 20 years and 266 days, Spain's Marc Márquez received the Breakthrough of the Year Award ahead of the likes of German pole vault world champion Raphael Holzdeppe and Colombian Tour de France runner up Nairo Quintana.

There was Olympic representation in the Comeback of the Year class however, with Olympic champions Tom Slingsby and Sir Ben Ainslie among the Team Oracle crew members who were rewarded for their stunning recovery to win the Americas Cup sailing last year.

Another teenager was recognised in the World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award when 19-year-old Marie Bochet won after last year becoming the first athlete to complete a Grand Slam of all five events at one Alpine Skiing World Championships.

The Frenchwomen defeated opponents consisting of US wheelchair racer turned skier Tatyana McFadden, Swiss wheelchair racer Marcel Hug and a trio of swimmers in Olga Sviderska, Sophie Pascoe and Sarah-Louise Rung.

Marie Bochet completed a perfect month which also consisted of four Paralympic gold medals ©Getty ImagesMarie Bochet completed a perfect month which also consisted of four Paralympic gold medals ©Getty Images

The ceremony was held at the Istana Budaya, in Kuala Lumpur and was hosted by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

Among other celebrities in attendance was the Oscar and Grammy winner Jamie Foxx, German actor Daniel Brühl, who played Niki Lauda in the film Rush, and Chinese supermodel and actress Du Juan.

The Laureus World Sports Awards are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar, with the winners chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy which consists of 46 of the greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen.

Among the members of the Academy present in Kuala Lumpar was former London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe, US swimming legend Mark Spitz, and two-time Olympic 400 metres hurdles champion Edwin Moses, who is chairman of the body.

More information of the winners and nominees can be found here.