ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue is quite possibly the most anticipated sports magazine release of the year. With the world's best athletes presented in all their glory, it is easy to understand why.
The Body Issue won't hit newsstands until July 11, but ESPN and USA Today have released several images in advance to make the wait a bit easier.
Snowboarder Jamie Anderson, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, swimmer Michael Phelps, Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka and tennis star Venus Williams were the lucky six chosen to grace the varying covers of the magazine, which will be distributed nationwide, per ESPN The Magazine's Instagram account:
Here is a full listing of all the athletes who can be seen when the magazine is officially released:
|Ginger Huber||Cliff Diving|
|Travis Pastrana and Lyn-Z||Motocross and Skateboarding|
The Body Issue is something that can be celebrated by all sports fans due largely to its equality, as Grantland's Molly Lambert points out:
I love the ESPN Body Issue, because they give equal playing time to men and women and it's always fantastic— Molly Lambert (@mollylambert) June 24, 2014
Williams' photo was released during the lead-up to Wimbledon, where she lost to eventual champion Petra Kvitova in the third round. Venus may have had an opportunity to go all the way and win her sixth career Wimbledon title had she beaten Kvitova. This photo courtesy of ESPN The Magazine on Twitter captures her physique:
Venus wasn't the only tennis player to go from the court to the pages of the Body Issue, though, as fifth-ranked men's star Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic bared it all as well:
Jamie Anderson captivated American sports fans at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, when she took gold in slopestyle snowboarding. The 23-year-old has maintained that momentum ever since and is likely to increase her popularity even more by virtue of her cover.
In addition to the cover shot, ESPN The Magazine caught Anderson in several other poses, including this one, courtesy of X Games:
This photo from Fox 4 News shows the functional body that has helped Fielder become one of the most consistent power threats in baseball:
As seen in this tweet courtesy of Phelps' official Twitter account, he seems quite comfortable in his natural underwater environment:
Athletes are naturally competitive, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that a rivalry is developing between cover boys. Lynch is among the best running backs in the NFL, but he insists he could have given Phelps a run for his money had he pursued swimming instead, according to Morty Ain of ESPN The Magazine.
"Michael Phelps wouldn't have been on the Wheaties box if I stuck with swimming," Lynch said. "I've been swimming since I was a little kid. I still swim. I'm the best. I am Olympic caliber right now, hell yeah."
Lynch has done quite well for himself in the sport of football, though, and boasts a body that every running back dreams of having, as evidenced by this tweet from NFL on ESPN:
Even if Lynch is overestimating his swimming abilities to some degree, there is no doubt that he and the rest of the cover athletes are capable of doing pretty much anything they put their minds and bodies to.
That much is true of world champion boxer Bernard Hopkins, who continues to excel at the sport's highest level despite being 49 years of age. Even though Hopkins is just shy of the half-century mark, this photo from USA Today makes it quite clear that he looks better than ever:
Bernard Hopkins on posing nude for ESPN's 'Body Issue': http://t.co/QDU5lpNKBQ— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) July 8, 2014
Hopkins is defying age, while Paralympic star Amy Purdy is defying science. Purdy has become an elite athlete while wearing two prosthetic legs. She became a bronze medalist in snowboard cross at the 2014 Paralympic Games and has a body that rivals anyone else featured in the Body Issue, as this ESPN The Magazine Instagram photo showcases:
Perhaps no team created more unity among American sports fans in recent memory than the United States men's national soccer team. The Yanks fell to Belgium in the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup, but they created plenty of exciting moments.
Center-back Omar Gonzalez was instrumental in their run and showed off his tools of the trade for the Body Issue, as seen in this photo from his personal Twitter account:
All 22 featured athletes bring something different to the table and have different looks that allow them to excel in their respective disciplines. That is what makes the Body Issue so unique.
Every sport requires different physical abilities in order to be among the best. The Body Issue makes that quite evident and likely inspires many to be the best they can physically while also appreciating what they have been blessed with.
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