In October last year Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, became the first human to break the sound barrier when he completed the highest-ever freefall from 39 kilometres, plummeting for more than four minutes over New Mexico.
Baumgartner was backed by a NASA-style operation that involved 300 people, including more than 70 engineers, scientists and physicians who had been working for five years on the Red Bull Stratos project, named after the energy drink company that financed it.
He broke altitude and speed records set half a century ago by Joe Kittinger (84) - a retired Air Force colonel who guided and mentored Baumgartner through some very tense moments.
His jump from the edge of space was watched live on YouTube by more than eight million people!
“It was harder than I expected,” said Baumgartner, a 43-year-old former paratrooper. “Trust me, when you stand up there on top of the world, you become so humble. It’s not about breaking records any more. It’s not about getting scientific data. It’s all about coming home.”
In March this year Baumgartner received the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award. Hosted by Hollywood stars Morgan Freeman and Eva Longoria in Rio de Janeiro, the Laureus World Sports Awards are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen.
Other winners included Usain Bolt (Sportsman of the Year), Andy Murray (Breakthrough of the Year), Felix Sanchez (Comeback of the Year) and Daniel Dias (Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability).