Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt, Missy Franklin lead Olympians on most marketable athletes list

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Usain Bolt is the most marketable athlete in a sport whose biggest event is the Olympics for the fourth straight year, according to SportPro’s World’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes list.

Bolt came in at No. 6 on the list, which, in the past, has ranked athletes according to their marketing potential over a three-year period starting with the upcoming summer. It has looked at six categories — value for money, age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal.

Bolt, the six-time Olympic champion and world-record holder in the 100m and 200m, is gearing up for his fourth Olympic bid in 2016.

Bolt is the only athlete in the world to make the top six of SportsPro’s list each of the last four years. He was No. 1 in 2011.

Lionel Messi had also been in the top six in 2011, 2012 and 2013, but the Argentine soccer superstar fell to No. 11 for 2014.

Here’s what SportsPro had to say about Bolt this year:

“Bolt is one of a handful of globally renowned, universally respected pitchmen who can break through. There simply isn’t anyone anything like him, within his sport or without.”

Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton is No. 1 on this year list, which includes 22 Olympians and two Paralympians:

4. Cristiano Ronaldo, Soccer
5. Grigor Dimitrov, Tennis
6. Usain Bolt, Track and Field
7. Neymar, Soccer (Neymar was No. 1 in 2012 and 2013)
8. Missy Franklin, Swimming
11. Lionel Messi, Soccer
14. Alex Morgan, Soccer
15. Novak Djokovic, Tennis
18. Ronda Rousey, Judo
20. Alan Oliveira, Paralympic Track and Field
21. Andy Murray, Tennis
23. Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skiing
28. Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Track and Field
29. Anthony Davis, Basketball
31. Victoria Azarenka, Tennis
34. Mami Sato, Paralympic Track and Field
37. James Harden, Basketball
38. Fabiana Claudino, Volleyball
39. Taylor Phinney, Cycling
42. Ben Ainslie, Sailing
45. Masahiro Tanaka, Baseball
46. Carmelo Anthony, Basketball
48. Caroline Wozniacki, Tennis
49. Martin Fourcade, Biathlon

The rankings have been done annually since 2010, though it’s hard to find the full list from five years ago.

No. 8 Franklin, who became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single World Swimming Championships last year, made her debut on the list in 2013 at No. 20.

Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn made the list each of the last three years but did not crack the top 50 for 2014. David Rudisha and Yuna Kim were also on the 2013 list and did not carry over.

Michael Phelps was No. 8 in 2011 and No. 28 in 2012 but has not made the list each of the last two years.

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U.S. senators speak up as women’s hockey worlds near with no resolution

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Sixteen U.S. senators wrote a letter to USA Hockey’s executive director Monday over their concerns about the treatment of the women’s national team.

Players have threatened to boycott the upcoming world championships over a wage dispute. The senators, all Democrats, urged David Ogrean to resolve the matter and ensure the team receives “equitable resources.” They cited the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.

USA Hockey’s board of directors meets Monday, and players said Sunday night they hope there’s a deal.

The senators, all Democrats, joined a chorus of support that includes unions representing players from the NHL, NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. Those organizations said over the weekend they stood with the women’s team and criticized USA Hockey for attempting to find replacement players.

Prominent NHL agent Allan Walsh tweeted Sunday, “Word circulating among NHL players that American players will refuse to play in men’s World Championships in solidarity with the women.”

Zach Bogosian, an American-born Buffalo Sabres defenseman, went to high school with U.S. captain Meghan Duggan. He tweeted his support and said he hopes the dispute is resolved.

The U.S. is the defending champion at the International Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, which begins Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.

In negotiations over the past 15 months, players have asked for a four-year contract that pays them outside the six-month Olympic period. The senators’ letter notes the $6,000 that players earn around the Olympics and USA Hockey’s $3.5 million annual spending on the men’s national team development program and other discrepancies.

“These elite athletes indeed deserve fairness and respect, and we hope you will be a leader on this issue as women continue to push for equality in athletics,” the senators wrote.

In a statement Sunday night, players said they hoped USA Hockey would approve terms discussed during a meeting last week. They said the agreement has the “potential to be a game changer for everyone.”

The letter was signed by: Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Patty Murray of Washington, Dianne Feinstein of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Thomas Carper of Delaware, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Robert Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

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Ugandan Olympian’s body shuts down at World Cross-Country Champs (video)

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Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei went from leading the race to finishing 30th in the final kilometer at the World Cross-Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda, on Sunday.

Cheptegei, a 20-year-old Olympian, saw his body shut down in the last four minutes of his race.

His stride shortened. His pace slowed. Cheptegei appeared on the verge of falling. At one point, a teammate deliberately pushed him from behind to keep going.

Cheptegei led by 12 seconds going into the final two-kilometer lap. He would finish 1 minute, 44 seconds behind Kenyan winner Geoffrey Kamworor, with 28 other runners separating them after the 10km race that took about a half-hour.

Cheptegei’s body movement looked similar to that of British triathlete Jonny Brownlee, who had to be helped to the finish line by brother Alistair Brownlee at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico, in September.

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