Usain Bolt named Sportsman of the Year

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London track champ Usain Bolt took top honors at the Laureus sports awards Monday night, earning his third Sportsman of the Year award since 2009.

Bolt, who swept the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m for the second consecutive Summer Games, beat out Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medalist Bradley Wiggins, two-time gold medalist Mo Farah, Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi, and F1 racer Sebastian Vettel for the award.

“This last season was a tough year,” Bolt admitted after winning his award. He suffered setbacks, injuries, and surprising back-t0-back losses to Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake at their country’s national championships just before the Olympics, but Bolt rebounded to beat Blake to the line in London.

British heptathlete Jessica Ennis took home the Sportswoman of the Year after winning gold in front of her home crowd last summer as part of an incredible evening for Great Britain, when Farah earned the 10,000m victory and Greg Rutherford surprised everyone by winning the long jump.

“It’s so surreal to stand here,” Ennis said. “It’s an incredible feeling.”

Ennis beat American gold medalists Allyson Felix, Missy Franklin, Lindsey Vonn, and Serena Williams, as well as Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who took home three medals last summer.

Laurie Hernandez eyes return to competition in 2018

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NEW YORK – Laurie Hernandez hardly considers her 14 months away from competitive gymnastics a break.

Since earning Olympic team gold and balance beam silver in Rio, the 17-year-old won “Dancing with the Stars,” authored a book and even enrolled in ballet lessons.

But her most rewarding experience has been speaking at schools. Students have asked her seemingly every question, from when she started taking gymnastics classes (age 5) to whether she climbed trees when she was younger (yes, all the time).

Seeing how many children were inspired by her Rio performance motivated Hernandez as she prepares to return to the sport.

“I didn’t realize at the Olympics how many people were truly watching,” Hernandez said Wednesday night at the annual Women’s Sports Foundation Salute to Women in Sports. “Now I’m excited to get back into the gym.”

Hernandez recently added handstand holds, back tucks and front flips to her conditioning program, in addition to continuing to run and lift weights.

“It’s a little difficult, but it’s fine,” she said. “I’ll push it a little more after the holidays.”

She has her eye on returning to competition in 2018.

“That’s definitely the hope,” Hernandez said. “I’m not going to rush anything, but I would love to compete in 2018.”

Hernandez, who said her next goal in gymnastics is to compete at the world championships for the first time and hopefully the 2020 Olympics, has not yet identified her comeback meet.

She noted that Aly Raisman took more than two years off after the London Olympics.

“I know every athlete is different,” Hernandez said. “But I wouldn’t mind following in her footsteps.”

Simone Biles, who has not competed since winning four gold medals in Rio, recently announced that she plans on returning to full-time training Nov. 1 and competition next summer.

“I look up to her, even though we are teammates,” Hernandez said. “I can’t wait to see her out there, but hopefully I’ll be out there with her soon.”

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Olympic cycling champion running for Congress

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Olympic cycling gold medalist Marty Nothstein is the latest to announce he’s running for the eastern Pennsylvania congressional seat being vacated by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Dent.

Dent, a former state senator, is a centrist Republican who has held the seat since 2005. He’s retiring after his term expires next year.

Nothstein, who won sprint silver in 1996 and gold in 2000, is the only American track cyclist to win an Olympic title at a fully attended Games.

Two Republican state representatives, Ryan Mackenzie and Justin Simmons, previously announced they’re running for Dent’s 15th District seat.

Democrat Bill Leiner, a former Lehigh County commissioner, is also running.

Dent’s district includes Allentown and all of Lehigh County, and parts of four surrounding counties.

Republicans in 2011 stretched the district almost 90 miles to the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania to make it more Republican.

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