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.

Seb Coe, IAAF to explore Tyson Gay case

Larry Nassar hears testimony at sentencing: ‘You are a repulsive liar’

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — One after one, gymnasts and other victims of a disgraced former sports doctor stepped forward in a Michigan courtroom Tuesday to recount the sexual abuse and emotional trauma Larry Nassar inflicted on them as children — one with the warning that “little girls don’t stay little forever.”

Nearly 100 women and girls planned to speak or have their statements read during an extraordinary four-day sentencing hearing.

Many of them cried as they gave the initial testimonies Tuesday.

Some requested that their identities not be made public. The judge consoled the victims and said they should not blame themselves.

“I testified to let the world know that you are a repulsive liar,” one victim, Kyle Stephens, said to the 54-year-old Nassar who bowed his head with his eyes closed or looked away as she and others spoke.

Stephens, the first to speak, said Nassar repeatedly abused her from age 6 until age 12 during family visits to his home in Holt, near Lansing.

She said he rubbed his genitals on her and digitally penetrated her, among other things. She said Nassar later denied it, and her parents believed him.

“Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don’t stay little forever,” Stephens said. “They grow into strong women that … destroy your world.”

Nassar has pleaded guilty to molesting females with his hands at his Michigan State University office, his home and a Lansing-area gymnastics club.

He also worked for Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

Another statement came from Donna Markham, who told of how her daughter Chelsey killed herself in 2009, years after Nassar sexually abused her during a medical examination.

“It all started with him,” she said, describing her daughter’s downward spiral into drug abuse.

Victims described experiencing “searing pain” during the assaults and having feelings of shame and embarrassment.

They said it had changed their life trajectories — affecting relationships, causing them to be distrustful and leading to depression, suicidal thoughts and anger and anxiety on whether they should have spoken up sooner.

“He touched the most innocent places on my body,” said 17-year-old Jessica Thomashaw, recounting how she was sexually assaulted at ages 9 and 12. “I couldn’t be just a normal girl anymore, and I forever lost a big piece of my childhood due to his abuse.”

Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who is expected to order a sentence Friday, said the system had failed them.

“You shouldn’t be angry with yourself,” she told a 31-year-old victim, who said she was assaulted almost 20 years ago. “You went to him for pain and healing, and you didn’t know. No one faults you or any other victim for that. You were a child.”

The Michigan attorney general’s office is seeking 40 to 125 years in prison for the 54-year-old Nassar.

The maximum represents a year for each of the 125 girls and women who filed reports of abuse with campus police. He already has been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.

Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles on Monday said she was among the athletes sexually abused by Nassar.

Another gold medalist, Aly Raisman, tweeted Monday that she would not attend the sentencing “because it is too traumatic for me. My impact letter will be read in court in front of Nassar. I support the brave survivors. We are all in this together.”

Olympians McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas also have said they were among Nassar’s victims as teens.

In November, he admitted to digitally penetrating 10 girls, mostly under the guise of treatment, between 1998 and 2015.

As part of plea deals in two adjacent Michigan counties, he said his conduct had no legitimate medical purpose and that he did not have the girls’ consent.

Nassar is scheduled to be sentenced in Eaton County in two weeks.

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