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Olympic, Paralympic champions on list of Laureus nominees

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This year’s nominees for the Laureus World Sports Awards include a handful of Olympic gold medalists, including Simone BilesMikaela ShiffrinShaun White and Lindsey Vonn. Paralympic champions Oksana Masters and Bibian Mentel-Spee are also up for awards. The nominees were announced Thursday morning.

The awards recognize sports achievements during 2018 and are voted on by the Laureus World Sports Academy. Winners will be announced in Monaco on February 18.

Among the nominees for world sportsman of the year is LeBron James, 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric, and Eliud Kipchoge, who won both the London and Berlin Marathons in 2018, breaking the world record by 78 seconds in Berlin.

Biles and Shiffrin are both nominated for world sportswoman of the year, as is double Olympic champion Ester Ledecka, who won gold medals in both snowboarding and alpine skiing in PyeongChang.

The World Comeback of the Year category includes Tiger Woods, Lindsey Vonn, two-time Olympic figure skating champion Yuzuru Hanyu as well as Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris, who overcame a life-threatening injury to win a second straight Olympic bronze medal in PyeongChang. Paralympic snowboarder Bibian Mentel-Spee, who won two gold medals in PyeongChang shortly after finishing cancer treatment, is also nominated in that category.

Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas and US Open champion Naomi Osaka are nominated for breakthrough athletes of the year. Chloe Kim, Shaun White, and Austria’s Anna Gasser, the inaugural Olympic gold medalist in big air, are up for awards in the action sports category.

Four-time Paralympian Oksana Masters, who won two gold medals in PyeongChang, is nominated in the category of athletes with disabilities. 

A full list of nominees is below:

World Sportsman of the Year

Novak Djokovic (Serbia) Tennis

Lewis Hamilton (UK) Motor Racing

LeBron James (USA) Basketball

Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) Athletics

Kylian Mbappé (France) Football

Luka Modric (Croatia) Football

 

World Sportswoman of the Year

Simone Biles (USA) Gymnastics

Simona Halep (Romania) Tennis

Angelique Kerber (Germany) Tennis

Ester Ledecka (Czech Republic) Skiing / Snowboarding

Daniela Ryf (Switzerland) Ironman Triathlon

Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) Skiing

 

World Team of the Year

European Ryder Cup Team – Golf

France Men’s Football Team

Golden State Warriors (USA) Basketball

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team (Germany)

Norway Winter Olympics Team

Real Madrid (Spain) Football

 

World Breakthrough of the Year

Ana Carrasco (Spain) Motor Cycling

Sofia Goggia (Italy) Skiing

Jakob Ingebrigtsen (Norway) Athletics

Naomi Osaka (Japan) Tennis

Geraint Thomas (UK) Cycling

Briana Williams (Jamaica) Athletics

 

World Comeback of the Year

Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan) Skating

Mark McMorris (Canada) Snowboarding

Bibian Mentel-Spee (Netherlands) Snowboarding

Vinesh Phogat (India) Wrestling 

Lindsey Vonn (USA) Skiing

Tiger Woods (USA) Golf

 

World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability

Henrieta Farkasova (Slovakia) Skiing

Diede de Groot (Netherlands) Wheelchair Tennis

Brian McKeever (Canada) Cross-country Skiing

Oksana Masters (USA) Cross-country Skiing

Grigorios Polychronidis (Greece) Boccia

Markus Rehm (Germany) Athletics

 

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year

Maya Gabeira (Brazil) Surfing

Anna Gasser (Austria) Snowboarding

Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) Surfing

Chloe Kim (USA) Snowboarding

Gabriel Medina (Brazil) Surfing

Shaun White (USA) Snowboarding

Alex Zanardi, auto racer turned Paralympic champion, has 5-hour surgery to rebuild face after crash

Alex Zanardi
AP
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SIENA, Italy (AP) — Italian auto racing champion-turned-Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi underwent a five-hour surgery Monday to reconstruct his face following a crash on his handbike last month.

It was the third major operation that Zanardi has had since he crashed into an oncoming truck near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19 during a relay event.

Dr. Paolo Gennaro of Santa Maria alle Scotte Hospital in Siena said the operation required three-dimensional digital and computerized technology that was “made to measure” for Zanardi.

“The complexity of the case was fairly unique, although this is a type of fracture that we deal with routinely,” Gennaro said in a hospital statement.

After the surgery, Zanardi was returned to the intensive care unit in a medically induced coma.

“His condition remains stable in terms of his cardio-respiratory status and grave in terms of his neurological status,” the hospital medical bulletin read.

The 53-year-old Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago, has been on a ventilator since the crash.

Zanardi suffered serious facial and cranial trauma, and doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

Zanardi won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.

Last month, Pope Francis penned a handwritten letter of encouragement assuring Zanardi and his family of his prayers. The pope praised Zanardi as an example of strength amid adversity.

Shawn Johnson East shares struggles with body image, prescription drugs

Shawn Johnson
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Shawn Johnson East, a 2008 Olympic gymnastics champion, detailed past struggles with body image and prescription drugs and reflected on her eating disorder as an elite athlete, to show there is hope to others in difficult situations.

“It all started with pregnancy and having my daughter,” East, who had daughter Drew in October, said on TODAY on Monday. “I had so many people asking me questions about how did pregnancy affect you mentally and how did you get your body back after having your daughter. I couldn’t answer that without giving a greater and a larger story.”

East first went public about her undiagnosed teenage eating disorders in 2015, three years after retiring from the sport. She said she limited herself to 700 calories per day and didn’t tell her parents.

In a June YouTube video, Johnson said she also binged and purged, including while dating future husband Andrew in the mid-2010s. And that she had depression and anxiety in 2011, when she returned to competition for the first time since the Beijing Games.

“I thought it would fix all of my problems,” East said of returning to gymnastics for a 2012 Olympic bid.

When East won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009, she “hit a very low spot” going through puberty on national TV. She said she gained 15 pounds after the 2008 Olympics and started taking medications and drugs “to look like I did at the Olympics.” It included fad diets, diuretics and a three-week stretch of eating nothing but raw vegetables.

“Most pain of my entire life because I couldn’t digest anything,” she said.

At some point in 2011, East began feeling burned out. She was back to eating too few calories and overtraining. An unnamed USA Gymnastics doctor prescribed her Adderall “to lose more weight, have more energy and be more successful in gymnastics.” She took “heavy doses.”

“It helped my performances, but there were massive consequences to it,” she said. “I continued to compete into 2012, where I just started to get depressed.

“I was overdosing on Adderall. I was overdosing on any medication that wouldn’t be caught by USADA.”

Adderall was a banned substance in competition without a therapeutic use exemption, but was legal outside of competition.

“I was so controlled by other people’s opinions that I wouldn’t live up to that Olympic standard that I did anything to get it back and I could never have it back,” East said. “I didn’t learn that until later on.”

East’s mental hurdles re-emerged when she had a miscarriage in 2017. She blamed herself, believing her unhealthy lifestyle in the past was a contributor.

“Our natural inclination is to say, what did I do? And what did I do wrong?” she said. “It haunted me. I felt like I had sacrificed everything for an Olympic medal to not actually get the dream I had wanted my entire life [to have a child].”

With the help of a nutritionist and therapist and her husband, she conquered the demons through her 2019 pregnancy and childbirth.

“Having gone through a whole pregnancy and knowing that I felt confident through the whole thing, I feel like I’ve climbed Everest,” she said.

MORE: Why Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson went 8 years without talking

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