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Nowitzki, Neuner named Germany's athletes of the year

NBA star Dirk Nowitzki and biathlete Magdalena Neuner have been named Germany's athletes of the year for 2011. Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund were voted Germany's top team.

Dirk Nowitzki and Magdelena Neuner

Dirk Nowitzki (left) and Magdalena Neuner, 2011's best

The Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, biathlete Magdalena Neuner and defending Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund have been named Germany's outstanding athletes of 2011.

The awards were handed out at a nationally televised ceremony broadcast from the southern town of Baden-Baden on Sunday.

Nowitzki, who became the first basketball player to win the award, was unable to attend the ceremony as the Mavericks are in the final days of training camp ahead of this start of this year's lockout-shortened NBA season on Christmas Day. In June, Nowitzki led the Mavericks to the NBA title and he was awarded with the MVP award for the series.

"After so many years that was by far the best year of my career," said Nowitzki. "Thanks to the sports journalists," joked the player in a televised link from Texas. "You have for the first time shown that you understand something about basketball."

The forward, who is one of the NBA's biggest stars, finished just ahead of last year's winner, Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel, in the male athlete category.

Going out on a high

Dortmund players hold the Bundesliga championship trophy

Dortmund lifted the trophy last May

For Magdalena Neuner, the award comes near the end of a successful career in winter biathlon, a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.

The 24-year-old Neuner, who also won the prize in 2007, announced a few weeks ago that she would retire from the sport at the end of the 2011-2012 season.

"To have been named an athlete of the year on two occasions is a really great achievement," said Neuner. She finished well ahead of her nearest competitor, tennis star Andrea Petkovic, in voting in the female athlete category.

In the team category, the award went to Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund, who took the title in May.

"The championship is a fairy tale that came true," said the soccer team's head coach, Jürgen Klopp.

As in every year since 1947, the winners were selected by a panel of German sports writers.

Author: Richard Connor, Chuck Penfold (dpa, SID)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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