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China team gets sports award

June 26, 2009, 5:37 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING(AP) China's entire Olympic squad, which finished last year's Beijing Games with a commanding 51 gold medals, was named the Laureus World Team of the Year at a ceremony in Beijing on Friday.

The China national team, represented by Deputy Sports Minister Cui Dalin, received the award from Laureus academy chairman Edwin Moses, a former Olympic 400-meter hurdles champion, and fellow Laureus academy member and Olympic table-tennis gold medalist, Deng Yaping.

The team was selected by the 46-member jury of the academy, which is made up of retired athletes.

With a final record medal tally of 51 gold, 21 silver and 28 bronze, China dominated its home Olympics by setting records in archery, fencing, trampoline, sailing, rowing and gymnastics.

“After the success in Beijing last year, this award is another major achievement for all our athletes,” said Duan Shijie, vice president of the China Olympic Committee.

Triple gymnastic gold medallist Zou Kai was present for the award, along with table tennis gold medallist Zhang Yining and Wu Minxia, a gold medal winner in diving.

The winners of this year's Laureus Awards received their prizes individually at a series of presentations in May and June after the usual lavish ceremony was scrapped due to the global economic crisis.

Earlier this month, Usain Bolt, the 22-year-old Jamaican, was named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for his record-breaking performances at the Beijing Olympics. He became the first man to win gold in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4x100-meter relay in world record times at the same Olympics.

Russian pole vaulter and Olympic gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva won her second Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award in May.

Isinbayeva has dominated women's pole vaulting for the last five years, and is the defending Olympic and world champion. She set a world record of 5.05 meters at the Beijing Olympics, and has improved the world record 24 times.