Cross country ski racer Dario Cologna has been voted “Swiss of the Year” by the public in an awards ceremony on Saturday night.
Former government minister and United Nations special advisor on sport for development and peace Adolf Ogi won a lifetime award. Jakob Kellenberger, who stepped down as President of the International Committee of the Red Cross last year, picked up an award in the politics category.
Cologna became the second winter sports star to win the overall award in as many years, following the success of now retired ski racer Didier Cuche in 2012.
Cologna was recognised for his impressive sporting achievements: winning the Tour de Ski championship twice in successive seasons (finishing second in the latest edition), three World Cup titles and gold in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
“I am taken completely by surprise,” Cologna said by telephone link to the Swiss Award ceremony. “This is an unbelievable honour and a huge motivation for the rest of the season.”
Cologna received more than 31 per cent of the votes cast, ahead of Kellenberger (14.6 per cent) and musician Bastian Baker (13.5 per cent).
Ex-politician and diplomat Ogi was recognised for his contribution both in Switzerland and abroad over a long career in public service. He was a government minister in two departments between 1988 to 2000, twice serving as Swiss President.
He then acted as special advisor to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan between 2001 to 2007, helping to inspire peace in troubled regions through sporting projects.