Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Three rising sport stars in 2010

A new year, a new decade -- and the perfect time for those coveting sporting superstardom to stake their claim and join the super-elite stratosphere occupied by the likes of Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Cristiano Ronaldo and Roger Federer.

CNN World Sport has racked its collective sporting brains to come up with six of the best who we feel will go the extra mile and become household figures, not just in their respective sports but also among the wider public.

Our list contains four men and two women who are all well-known among supporters of their respective sports, but who we believe will make waves on the front pages as well as the back.

We would like your feedback on our selection and hear from you who you believe will make a sporting breakthrough in 2010 -- use the sound off box below.

Michelle Wie (golf)

Our first choice almost fits the bill in everything but her golfing record, which is improving but still boasts just one tournament win as a professional.

Michelle Wie served notice of her prodigious talent by taking on the best on the LPGA Tour while barely a teenager and then having the audacity to pit her skills against men on their professional tour, making the cut at one minor event.

She had the world at her feet with a multi-million sponsorship deal by 16, but then came a wobble that left her future in the game in serious doubt.

Without a win on the LPGA Tour and seeming to lose interest in the sport, Wie looked headed for oblivion until she returned, a more mature and rounded young woman with a purpose.

Results have not been startling, but a superb showing in the Solheim Cup for the U.S. then finally victory in the Lorena Ochoa Invititatonal saw her end 2009 on a high. Expect major wins in 2010 and remember the public love nothing better than a fallen heroine who has made good again.

Kevin Durant (basketball)

Kevin Durant is already an established star in the NBA, having been college player of the year in 2007 and NBA Rookie of the Year in 2008.

The Oklahoma Thunder small forward, formerly at the Seattle Supersonics, is a scoring machine. This season he is fourth in the charts with more than 28 points per game.

He recently set a franchise record of seven consecutive matches scoring 30 points or more and has signed a massive endorsement deal with Nike.

A place in the NBA All-Star team awaits, and recognition he is set to join Bryant and LeBron James as a cut above the rest.

Marin Cilic (tennis)

Giant tennis player Marin Cilic stands nearly two meters tall and is aiming to hit the heights in a grand slam this year.

The Croatian stunned second seed Andy Murray of Britain in the fourth round at last year's U.S. Open and lost narrowly in the next round to eventual winner Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina.

Cilic and Del Potro share similar traits and, with three career titles and a best ranking of 13, the 21-year-old has the pedigree to challenge the very best in the game.

Many predict a changing of the guard at the top of the world game, with Roger Federer nearing the end of his career and Rafael Nadal struggling with injury. The likes of Cilic are ready to step in.

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