2017's Most Popular Athletes
For all you sports fans out there, this one is for you. See which athletes were the most talked about in 2017, and learn about what they did to get on everyone's minds this year.
American runner Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon since 1977. It took her two hours, twenty-six minutes, and fifty-three seconds to break the tape, all the while recalling her experience at the 2013 Boston Marathon when she reached the finish line seconds before the bombs went off. Shalane, who has also competed in the Olympics, has become yet another icon of the battle against sexism in sports; up to the 1980s, Olympic organizers held a belief that women were incapable of running long distances. Alongside Shalane, close to half of this year's New York City Marathon finishers were women.
Basketball legend Kobe Bryant's career reached yet another peak when he was given the honor of retiring his jersey numbers in September. Jersey numbers 8 and 24 were retired when the Lakers hosted the Golden State Warriors at the STAPLES Center during the halftime ceremony. This made him the 10th LA Laker to earn such a distinction after playing with the team for 20 seasons in a single franchise — a first in NBA history.
Already one of the most recognizable names in tennis, Serena Williams became a hot topic later this year for other reasons besides her achievements in sports. The 36-year-old has married Alexis Ohanian in a beautiful ceremony held in November, and
gave birth to a baby girl a couple of months before that. Being the tennis legend that she is, Serena has announced that she will be making a comeback in January where
she will participate in the Australian open.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is 2017's most Googled athlete. The main reason? It became known that his bout with MMA fighter and professional boxer Conor McGregor earned him more than a whopping $100,000,000. The boxing match nicknamed "The Money Fight" and "The Biggest Fight in Combat Sports History" took place in August with Mayweather emerging as the champion. Best of all, the victory gave Mayweather bragging rights of having a 50-0 track record.
Fencing champion Ibtihaj has gained national acclaim for many reasons. The world first got to know her when she became the first Muslim woman wearing a hijab to represent the United States at the Olympics and the first female Muslim-American athlete to win an Olympic medal (she took home bronze at the Rio Olympics). This year, she makes headlines once again by becoming the basis for the first ever hijab-wearing Barbie. The doll, that reportedly also has more realistic body measurements, dons a fencing outfit, just like real-life Ibtihaj.
Georges St. Pierre
"Georges St. Pierre is back!" Many of GSP's fans excitedly announced this online when the former longtime UFC champion not only returned to the sport in November, but also came out of his match against Michael Bisping as the ultimate winner. Considered one of the greatest fighters of his time, the French-Canadian shocked the UFC world back in 2013 when, at the height of his career, he announced that he would be taking a break from the physically demanding sport due to personal issues. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the fighter revealed that "he wanted the tallest task available for his comeback," which meant that he purposely chose to come face to face with Bisping, a fighter from a weight class that GSP was unfamiliar with and inexperienced in. The fight quickly went down in history as one of UFC's greatest.
Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas added her name to the global #MeToo movement when she revealed that she too was molested by former team doctor Larry Nassar. Asked why it took her some months before opening up about her story, the 21-year-old athlete shared that she and her teammates with similar stories to tell had been conditioned to stay silent about any and all incidents that may spur controversy of any sort. Investigations about Nassar's other cases — which reportedly total 130 — had already been underway when Gabby and two other teammates, McKayla Maroneyand Aly Raisman, came forward.
Lead Photo from @ibtihajmuhammad