Year in Review: Jordan Jovtchev proves age ain’t nothing

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OlympicTalk’s writers recount some of their favorite moments from the 2012 London Games. 

The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team was the overall youngest team competing in London this year and by almost all accounts, the most exciting. However, there were a few athletes on the floor who proved age is in fact, just a number.

Perhaps the most memorable of them was Jordan Jovtchev. At first glance of Jovtchev and his full head of grey hair he could easily be mistaken as the coach for team Bulgaria. Wrong. He’s a hardcore, superhuman, badass athlete who puts to shame believers of the mindset that most gymnasts careers can only last one Olympic cycle.

London marked Jovtchev’s record breaking sixth Olympics (again, sixth). The 39-year-old owns four Olympic medals and, in addition to being Bulgaria’s star gymnast, is also the president of the country’s gymnastics federation, conducting his business while on his cell phone… while training on the rings (file under: overachiever).

Yet the forecast for London was merely to be a farewell tour, with expectations incredibly low.

So low in fact that during the opening ceremonies a night almost all gymnasts choose to sit out because they have to compete the next day, Jovtchev chose to walk in the march of nations, with good reason, he was selected to carry the flag for Bulgaria.

The next day, during qualifications, Jovtchev stunned everyone when he qualified for the event finals on his signature apparatus: the still rings. What was supposed to be the last ever performance turned into an encore that had fans and media going wild. But Jovetchev can’t be bothered with such fuss. His response was more understated.

“I’m tired now. I didn’t even hope I would make the final, I just told Kras ‘I’m finished’ and now I’ve got to go again.” Awesome.

Jovtchev competed his set in the ring finals, and while a fifth Olympic medal was out of reach for the veteran, his final salute to the judges was met with one of the loudest ovations from the crowd. Oh wait, did I mention that he competed throughout the Games with a partially torn bicep and a fractured wrist?

Take notes, youngsters.

Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor pleads guilty to sexual assault

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A sports doctor accused of molesting girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple charges of sexual assault and will face at least 25 years in prison.

Larry Nassar, 54, was charged with molesting seven girls, mostly under the guise of treatment at his Lansing-area home and a campus clinic.

All but one of his accusers was a gymnast. He faces similar charges in a neighboring county and lawsuits filed by more than 125 women and girls.

Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas are among the women who have publicly said they were among Nassar’s victims.

Some of his accusers attended the hearing Wednesday in a packed Ingham County courtroom.

The plea deal in Ingham County calls for a minimum prison sentence of 25 years, but a judge could set the minimum sentence as high as 40 years. In Michigan, inmates are eligible for parole after serving a minimum sentence.

The girls have testified that Nassar molested them with his hands, sometimes when a parent was present in the room, while they sought help for gymnastics injuries.

“He convinced these girls that this was some type of legitimate treatment,” Assistant Attorney General Angela Poviliatis told a judge last summer. “Why would they question him? Why would they question this gymnastics god?”

Separately, Nassar is charged with similar crimes in Eaton County, the location of an elite gymnastics club. He also is awaiting sentencing in federal court on child pornography charges.

The Michigan criminal cases against Nassar followed reports last year in the Indianapolis Star about how USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, mishandled complaints about sexual misconduct involving the doctor and coaches.

Women and girls said the stories inspired them to step forward with detailed allegations of abuse, sometimes when their parents were in the exam room at Michigan State.

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MORE: Aly Raisman in book: ‘Horrible memories’ with Larry Nassar

Indian police probe Maria Sharapova housing fraud case

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NEW DELHI (AP) — Maria Sharapova is being investigated by police in India in a cheating and criminal conspiracy case involving a real estate company who used the tennis star to endorse a luxury housing project that never took off.

Real estate firm Homestead Infrastructure is accused of taking tens of millions of rupees (millions of dollars) from home buyers for a project named “Ballet by Maria Sharapova,” a luxury apartment complex with its own helipad, tennis academy and other amenities.

The five-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic silver medalist traveled to India in 2013 to launch the project at a glitzy ceremony. Police began the investigation on Nov. 16.

Piyush Singh, a lawyer representing one of the home buyers, said Wednesday that Sharapova’s celebrity was the reason most people put their money into the project.

Singh said his client, Bhawana Agarwal, paid Homestead Infrastructure 5.3 million rupees ($81,678) in 2013 because she was impressed by Sharapova’s association with the project located in Gurgaon, a suburb of the Indian capital. The cost of an apartment in the swanky project was 20 million rupees ($308,000).

Agarwal then spent the next three years chasing the builders for updates on the property and her investment in it but they stopped taking her calls, Singh said. On Wednesday, several calls to the numbers of the building company’s website went unanswered.

“The project never saw the light of day,” Singh said.

Singh said the police investigation based on his client’s complaint was testing relatively new legal ground – that celebrities endorsing projects that draw vast sums of money from investors had a responsibility “to do some due diligence” on the project before lending their name and credibility to it.

Sharapova isn’t the only international sports celebrity that the real estate firm roped in. Its website also advertises a project with Formula One great Michael Schumacher called the Michael Schumacher World Tower.

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MORE: Sharapova not fully committed to 2020 Olympic run