In a field featuring four Olympic gold medallists, Dan Carter will at least find one more familiar face, surfer Mick Fanning.

The Australasian duo appears the exception in the comeback of the year category at Tuesday morning's (NZT) Laureus Sports Awards in Berlin, with Michael Phelps, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Lindsay Vonn and David Rudisha boasting a combined 21 Olympic gold medals.

While 18 of those belong to Phelps, it shows the pedigree of athlete against whom Carter and Fanning will be competing.

But if both men perhaps have a little less bling to show off, they do have compelling cases. Carter overcame a string of injuries, starting at the 2011 World Cup, to lead the All Blacks to the defence of their title in 2015, while Fanning endured the death of his brother and an encounter with a great white shark to remain in the top tier of the surfing world.


Fanning, who like Carter has stepped away from the highest level, professed an affinity for his fellow Australasian nominees, with the All Blacks also in the running for the team of the year prize.

"The All Blacks are arguably the greatest sporting team in the world and Dan Carter is a freak talent."

It remains to be seen whether that's enough to see off four Olympians who will be heading to Rio in search of further glory.

But Fanning, who has also been nominated in the action sportsperson category, was simply honoured to be among such prestigious competition.

"To be named in the category with Olympians is amazing," he said. "Overcoming injury to succeed at the highest level isn't easy and whoever wins will be deserving of the accolade."