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Simone Biles leads Olympians in Time 100

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Simone BilesLeBron James and Neymar made this year’s Time 100 Most Influential list unveiled Thursday.

Other sports names to make this year’s list include NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick, UFC champion Conor McGregor and Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.

Biles, who won four gymnastics gold medals in Rio, is one of the youngest people on the list at age 20. The youngest is Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old LGBT rights activist.

Leslie Jones of “Saturday Night Live,” who was an NBC Olympics correspondent in Rio, penned a short essay on Biles for the magazine.

“What struck me when I first saw Simone in Rio was how perfect she was at everything,” Jones wrote. “That girl was born to do what she does.”

Biles was previously the youngest of 11 finalists for Time’s Person of the Year for 2016. She is currently competing on “Dancing with the Stars” as she takes all of 2017 off from gymnastics competition.

James, a two-time Olympic basketball gold medalist who skipped Rio, previously made Time 100 in 2013.

Neymar, who led Brazil to its first Olympic soccer title in Rio, is on the list for the first time.

“The pressure on him in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup and at last year’s Rio Olympics was likely immense as he carried the hopes of a nation,” David Beckham wrote. “But you would not have known it. He lives to play the game, and I imagine he approaches it now the same way he did as a boy.”

Here are Olympians and Paralympians on past Time 100 lists, counting only athletes who had competed in the Games before being listed:

2016 — Usain BoltCaitlyn JennerKatie LedeckySania MirzaRonda Rousey
2015 — Abby Wambach
2014 — Cristiano Ronaldo, Serena Williams
2013 — LeBron James, Li Na, Lindsey Vonn
2012 — Novak DjokovicLionel MessiOscar Pistorius
2011 — Lionel Messi
2010 — Yuna KimSerena Williams
2009 — Rafael Nadal
2008 — Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong, Oscar Pistorius
2007 — Roger FedererChien Ming-Wang
2006 — Joey Cheek, Steve Nash
2005 — LeBron James
2004 — Lance Armstrong, Paula Radcliffe, Yao Ming
2000 (20th Century) — Muhammad Ali

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VIDEO: Biles details first tattoo, gets pranked on ‘Ellen’

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Lionel Messi puts Olympic gold medal in context of career

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Lionel Messi owns titles from La Liga, the U-20 World Cup and the UEFA Champions League.

His most prized trophy?

“The Olympic gold in 2008 is the win that I value the most,” Messi said, according to a Goal.com translation of a Spanish Esquire interview, “because it is a tournament that you may only play in once in your life and involves many athletes from different disciplines.”

Messi, then 21, helped lead Argentina to Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing Games, his only Olympic appearance.

“The fact that we have been to the athletes village and met famous sportsmen, it’s all an experience that we will not forget quickly,” Messi said in 2008, according to The Associated Press.

The Olympic men’s soccer tournament is mostly made up of players 23 and younger, with veteran stars typically not taking part. Messi may have been able to play at the Rio Olympics, but the Copa America Centenario took precedence for Argentina’s national team last summer.

Without him, Argentina was knocked out in group play in Brazil.

One would think a World Cup title would triumph all for Messi.

“World Cup is great,” he said in May, according to ESPN, “but Olympics are something special.”

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Neymar will play Olympics, not Copa America

Neymar
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Neymar will play for Brazil at the Olympics in August but not Copa America Centenario in June, according to Barcelona and confirmed by Brazil’s soccer federation, according to Brazilian media.

“FC Barcelona expresses its gratitude to the Brazilian Football Confederation and its president Marco Polo del Nero for accepting the club’s proposal for Neymar Jr. to only play at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer, to be held from August 3 to 21, and not at the Copa America in the United States from June 3 to 26,” the Spanish club said in a statement Wednesday.

Barcelona controls Neymar’s rights for the Olympics but not Copa America Centenario and has said Neymar can play in one of the two tournaments, but not both. The club wants to keep its prized striker healthy and rested for its matches.

That left the decision on which tournament in the hands of Brazil’s soccer federation, which controls Neymar’s rights for Copa America.

Brazil’s federation prefers Neymar to play in the Olympics over Copa America but wanted him for both tournaments.

The Olympics are important for Brazil and for Neymar, since the nation is hosting the Games for the first time and has never won Olympic soccer gold.

Neymar led the 2012 Olympic silver-medal winning squad for Brazil.

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