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Time 100 includes most Olympians in annual list’s history

Nathan Chen

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 10: Nathan Chen of Team United States skates during the Men Single Skating Free Skating on day six of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on February 10, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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The Time 100 Most Influential list includes eight Olympians, the most ever in the annual list’s 19-year history. At least one Olympian made each edition dating to the first year in 2004.

Beijing Olympic gold medalists Nathan Chen and Eileen Gu were joined by soccer players Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, tennis players Rafael Nadal and Peng Shuai and basketball player Candace Parker.

Time 100 listees are based on factors including relevance, impact, innovation, leadership, ambition and success.

Chen and Gu were spotlight athletes in February, each earning gold at the Beijing Games. Chen became the first U.S. singles figure skater to take gold since 2010, four years after struggling as a favorite. Figure skaters Adam Rippon (2018) and Yuna Kim (2010) previously made the Time 100.

“That perseverance never wavered, even after his first Olympics didn’t go as he’d hoped,” two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan wrote for Time. “He trained for another four years and showed the world just how fierce a competitor he is.”

Gu earned two golds and a bronze in freestyle skiing as the host nation’s biggest star. She competed while scrutinized for her decision to switch representation in 2019 from the U.S. to China, her mother’s birth nation.

“It’s hard for athletes -- particularly Olympic athletes -- to transcend their sport. Eileen Gu is an exception to that rule,” fellow Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy wrote for Time. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anybody more disciplined, driven, or determined than Eileen. And hard work pays off.”

Morgan, Rapinoe and Sauerbrunn have been longtime leaders for the U.S. women’s soccer team, winning Olympic and World Cup titles. Last week, after a yearslong battle, a historic victory was scored with the announcement of equal pay for the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams.

Nadal made the list for a second time -- 13 years after his previous appearance -- after winning a men’s record-breaking 21st major singles title at the Australian Open.

Peng, an Olympic tennis player in 2008, 2012 and 2016, made the list in the “Icons” category. Last November, she accused a former high-ranking Chinese government official of sexual assault in a Weibo post that was soon deleted.

Parker, a 36-year-old mom, won her second WNBA title last season and first with her hometown team, the Chicago Sky.

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

2022 -- Nathan Chen, Eileen Gu, Alex Morgan, Rafael Nadal, Candace Parker, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, Peng Shuai
2021 -- Simone Biles, Allyson Felix, Suni Lee, Naomi Osaka
2020 -- Allyson Felix, Maya Moore, Megan Rapinoe, Dwyane Wade
2019 -- LeBron James, Alex Morgan, Mo Salah, Caster Semenya
2018 — Kevin Durant, Roger Federer, Chloe Kim, Adam Rippon
2017 — Simone Biles, LeBron James, Neymar
2016 — Usain Bolt, Caitlyn Jenner, Katie Ledecky, Sania Mirza, Ronda Rousey
2015 — Abby Wambach
2014 — Cristiano Ronaldo, Serena Williams
2013 — LeBron James, Li Na, Lindsey Vonn
2012 — Novak Djokovic, Lionel Messi, Oscar Pistorius
2011 — Lionel Messi
2010 — Yuna Kim, Serena Williams
2009 — Rafael Nadal
2008 — Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong, Oscar Pistorius
2007 — Roger Federer, Chien Ming-Wang
2006 — Joey Cheek, Steve Nash
2005 — LeBron James
2004 — Lance Armstrong, Paula Radcliffe, Yao Ming
2000 (20th Century) — Muhammad Ali