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

Caitlyn Jenner: Olympic decathlon title one half of ‘ultimate double’

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Caitlyn Jenner says she has ultimate double — winning the 1976 Olympic decathlon and 2015 Glamour “Woman of the Year.”

Jenner sat down with Seth Meyers for an interview during a media tour for her memoir, “The Secrets of My Life,” which was released Wednesday.

She briefly mentioned her Olympic experience, winning the Montreal 1976 decathlon.

Jenner related it to her current work within the transgender community, one that she said is marginalized and misunderstood with high murder and suicide rates.

“What I’m doing today is mort important than winning the Games more than 40 years ago,” Jenner said.

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Syria-born Olympian takes advocacy role at U.N. refugee agency

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GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency has chosen as a goodwill ambassador a Syrian teenage girl who helped save a boat carrying fellow refugees and later became an Olympic swimmer.

Yusra Mardini was appointed as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on Thursday, joining other notables like actress Cate Blanchett and author Khaled Hosseini in the unpaid advocacy role.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Mardini “represents the hopes, the fears and the incredible potential of the more than 10 million young refugees around the globe.”

Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped overboard and swam for hours alongside their overloaded boat to reach Greece from Turkey in 2015.

She swam on the first Refugee Olympic team in Rio last year and has discussed refugees’ challenges with leaders like Pope Francis and President Barack Obama.

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