Missy Franklin, Mark Spitz

Missy Franklin wins Laureus Sportswoman of the Year

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Four-time 2012 Olympic champion Missy Franklin became the youngest winner of a Laureus Sportsman or Sportswoman of the Year and the first swimmer to take the honor Wednesday.

Franklin was in attendance in Kuala Lumpur to receive the award from seven-time 1972 Olympic champion swimmer Mark Spitz.

The other nominees were German soccer player Nadine Angerer, Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, Slovenian Alpine skier Tina Maze and American tennis player Serena Williams.

Laureus Awards have been presented annually since 2000 for sports performances in the previous year. Spitz gave a little speech before presenting Franklin her award.

“On a personal note, I’m pleased to be able to present you this award for your outstanding achievements and what you accomplished last year, and, more importantly, it’s incredible that she’s only 18 years old, and what marvelous opportunities in life are before her in the future,” Spitz said.

Franklin earned the award for her unprecedented success in 2013, becoming the first woman to win six gold medals a single World Swimming Championships.

“Oh my gosh,” Franklin said after walking on stage in a green dress. “I don’t know what I’m doing here.”

Franklin, 18, expressed her condolences, thoughts and prayers for those affected by the Malaysia Airlines flight tragedy to start her acceptance speech. She joked that she’s not missing any classes at California, where she’s a freshman, because the school is on spring break.

She also said she met Spitz on an elevator in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. Franklin’s parents were in the crowd at the awards show, spending a week in Malaysia together.

“It was just one of the most incredible moments of my life,” Franklin said. “Being here, it’s more than an honor.”

Other award winners:

Sebastian Vettel, Sportsman of the Year
Bayern Munich, Team of the Year
Afghanistan Cricket Team, Spirit of Sport Award
Jamie Bestwick
, Action Sportsperson of the Year
Marie Bochet, Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Marc Marquez, Breakthrough of the Year

Michael Phelps will probably swim in meet ‘sometime soon,’ coach says

Canada names Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearers

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Figure skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are Canada’s flag bearers for the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9.

It’s the first time Canada will have multiple flag bearers at an Opening Ceremony.

Virtue and Moir won ice dance gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and silver in Sochi in 2014.

After a two-year break, they went undefeated last season and won their third world championship.

They lost for the first time in their comeback at last month’s Grand Prix Final to French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Canada finished in the top three in the total medal standings at the last three Winter Olympics, including topping the gold-medal standings at the 2010 Vancouver Games with a record 14.

Recent Canadian Winter Olympic flag bearers
2014 Opening: Hayley Wickenheiser, Hockey
2014 Closing: Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, Bobsled
2010 Opening: Clara Hughes, Speed Skating
2010 Closing: Joannie Rochette, Figure Skating
2006 Opening: Danielle Goyette, Hockey
2006 Closing: Cindy Klassen, Speed Skating
2002 Opening: Catriona Le May Doan, Speed Skating
2002 Closing: Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Figure Skating

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MORE: Canada’s Olympic figure skating team roster

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to cover Super Bowl LII, Olympics for NBC

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will cover Super Bowl LII and the PyeongChang Olympics as a contributor for NBC.

Earnhardt will spend the first weekend in February covering the outdoor activities in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl Pre-Game Show (NBC, Feb. 4).

Then he will travel to South Korea for the Winter Games.

From NBC Sports PR:

“Earnhardt will travel to PyeongChang, where he will explore the culture, people, and traditions in South Korea, and experience Olympic competitions first hand. Earnhardt will visit the speed skating venue at Gangneung Ice Arena, and through the lens of a racer will view the speed, close contact, and tight turns on the short track speed skating oval, which so closely mirror Earnhardt’s racing days and nights at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Following a recent invite on social media from his new friends on the U.S. bobsled team, including U.S. bobsled team pilot Nick Cunningham, Earnhardt will also travel to Alpensia Sliding Center, where he will test the true speed of the bobsled track and live out his post-retirement dream of riding in an Olympic bobsled.”

Earnhardt, 43, retired last year after 19 NASCAR seasons, which included Daytona 500 wins in 2004 and 2014.

He is now a NASCAR on NBC analyst.

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