Like world champion Lewis Hamilton before him, Formula One rising star Sebastian Vettel failed to come up trumps at the annual round of Laureus World Sports Academy awards.

The young German was listed among the candidates for the World Breakthrough of the Year Award following his shock win for the Scuderia Toro Rosso team at last year's Italian Grand Prix - where he became the youngest ever F1 grand prix winner at the age of 21 years and 73 days - but ultimately missed out in a year when Olympic performances look set to dominate.

With Laureus' decision, in the face of global economic meltdown, not to hold one glitzy ceremony but to announce its awards over a series of weeks, Vettel has had to wait to learn his fate - and when the proclamation came, it was not good reading for the Red Bull Racing star.

Instead of it being him receiving a visitation from a member of the Academy in the build-up to this weekend's British Grand Prix - a race where he is expected to challenge for victory - British swimming sensation Rebecca Adlington, who won two gold medals in Beijing at the age of 19 to become Britain's first female Olympic swimming champion in 48 years, was confirmed as the award's latest winner.

Adlington received her trophy in London from World Sports Academy member Sebastian Coe and ambassador Kelly Holmes, as well as a third Olympic champion, hurdler Edwin Moses, who chairs the Academy. She succeeds Hamilton as the latest Breakthrough winner.

Vettel was thus consigned to the role of contender, along with Serbian tennis champions Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic, American golfer Anthony Kim and China's Zou Kai, who won three gymnastic gold medals in Beijing on his Olympic debut.