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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Simone Biles welcomed home with cheerleaders, band, police escort (video)

Simone Biles
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The celebration began the moment Simone Biles walked into Bush Airport in Houston on Wednesday.

Biles, after winning four gold medals at the Rio Olympics, arrived in her home state of Texas to the sounds of a band, sights of Houston Texans cheerleaders and much more.

Mayor Sylvester Turner declared Wednesday to be “Simone Biles Day” in Houston, handing the gymnast a paper proclamation.

“Hi guys, I’m Simone Biles, and I can’t thank everyone [enough] in all of Houston for coming out to see me today and to welcome me from Rio,” she said, laughing, on a podium at the airport. “I don’t know what else to say, I’m nervous, and I love you guys.”

Later, Biles was given a parade in her hometown of Spring, a Houston suburb, with a police escort.

Biles and the Final Five’s first stop on the way home from Rio was New York, where they went on a media tour earlier this week. They reached the top of the Empire State Building, visited Jimmy Fallon and saw “Hamilton.”

The Final Five will reunite for a USA Gymnastics tour of 36 cities, beginning Sept. 15.

MORE: Home videos of Simone Biles doing gymnastics

Gwen Jorgensen the latest Olympic triathlon star to move up to marathon

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When Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen lines up for her first 26.2-mile race at the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, it will be hard to judge her performance.

Perhaps the best measure will be her time versus those of previous Olympic triathlon medalists in their marathon debuts.

Jorgensen is recognized as the greatest female runner among top-level female triathletes, perhaps of all time, with an ability to make up deficits of more than one minute on the 10km run after swimming 1,500 meters and biking 40 kilometers.

Swiss Nicola Spirig, the 2012 Olympic triathlon gold medalist, made her marathon debut in 2014 in 2:42:53. Sprig, though, had more long-distance racing experience than Jorgensen, including a half marathon.

Jorgensen, 30 and a former University of Wisconsin distance runner and swimmer, has never tackled more than 10 miles in training, according to The New York Times.

“When you ask athletes what they want to do after they win gold or the Super Bowl, they say they want to go to the happiest place on earth,” Jorgensen said, according to the newspaper. “Running is my happiest place. It’s my Disneyland.”

Portugal’s Vanessa Fernandes shared triathlon’s longest top-level international winning streak before Jorgensen strung together 13 wins in a row.

Fernandes, the 2008 Olympic triathlon silver medalist, clocked 2:31:25 in her first marathon, but it came in 2015, four years after her last elite international triathlon.

The 2015 New York City Marathon women’s winning time was 2:24:25 by Kenyan Mary Keitany. The top American, Laura Thweatt, ran 2:28:23.

This year’s American field may be stronger, with Olympic track distance runners Molly Huddle and Kim Conley making their marathon debuts.

Other Olympic triathlon medalists, including 2004 gold medalist Kate Allen and 2000 silver medalist Michellie Jones, have moved up to the Ironman — a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon.

In 2014, Jorgensen said she didn’t see herself ever doing an Ironman.

MORE: What Jorgensen asked Ironman star Mirinda Carfrae