Larry Nassar survivors receive Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs

Nichols to receive ESPY award for courage

"If just one adult had listened, believed and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never have met him", Raisman said.

Some of the nation's biggest sports stars wiped away tears as they applauded the women at the event that recognizes athletic achievements.

The most talented sports people were honoured at the ESPY Awards today, but one truly powerful and emotional moment came when the survivors of sexual abuse by former USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar were presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

Crisis counselors and therapy dogs were on hand to support them as they spoke about the trauma they experienced.

"It is a privilege to stand up here today with my sister survivors as we represent hundreds more who are not with us tonight", said gymnast Sarah Klein, the first known victim of Nassar. "As a survivor, I am here to say, if we can just give one person the courage to use their voice, this is worth it".

She described how important it is to speak out - even when no one listens.

"Speaking up and speaking out is not easy", she said.

She spoke about when the dream of being an athlete can turn into a nightmare, but said the story needs to be heard, so "it never happens again". "We're sacrificing privacy. We're being judged and scrutinized, and it's grueling and it's painful, but it is time". For more than two decades, ESPN has presented the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage to a public figure, often in the sports world, who demonstrated "strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost".

"1997. 1998. 1999. 2000". The three-time gold medalist, two-time silver medalist and onetime bronze medalist spoke for the longest of the three women, referencing the years that Nassar's victims spoke up to adults about the abuse but nothing was done for them. Whether you act or do nothing, you are shaping the world that we live in, impacting others. "You are misunderstood. He's a doctor", she explained.

"We've all been through something really disgusting, but we're all gonna get through it together", she added. "To silence us in favor of money, medals and reputation".

She urged those who are suffering to speak out. "2016", Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said on stage. It could have been avoided.

The disgraced doctor was also found guilty of assaulting girls while he was at Michigan State University.

Thomas and Raisman were among more than 150 women, girls and family members who spoke directly to Nassar during an extraordinary, week-long sentencing hearing at a MI court in January.

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