ESPN The Magazine's The Body Issue features many of the greatest athletes in the world representing their respective sports through confidence and bravery.
There are a lot of intriguing aspects of The Body Issue, but chief among them may be the variation of body types across different sports. While football players are often expected to be powerful and muscular, soccer players need to be leaner and sleeker.
It is easy to see how the sports themselves influence the manner in which athletes choose to sculpt their bodies. With that in mind, here is a full listing of athletes featured in this year's The Body Issue by sport as well as a closer look at some of the more notable participants.
|Cliff Diving||Ginger Huber|
|Motocross and Skateboarding||Travis and Lyn-Z Pastrana|
Top Featured Athletes
Legendary swimmer Michael Phelps has pretty much done it all. With 22 Olympic medals—18 of them gold—to his credit, it would be easy for Phelps to rest on his laurels. That hasn't been the case, though, as Phelps has returned to the pool and decided to pose for The Body Issue as well.
The 2012 London Olympics were supposed to be Phelps' swan song, but the allure of competition was too much, as he came back in April. Phelps is preparing for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but he took some time to contribute to ESPN The Magazine.
As seen in this photo courtesy of Phelps' Twitter account, he appears to be in peak physical condition already:
Phelps admitted that his time away from the pool caused him to get out of shape initially, but it didn't take him long to return to his old ways, per Morty Ain of ESPN The Magazine.
"It was easy once I started working out again." Phelps said. "I got out of the shower one day and I'm like: 'Wow. What am I doing?' It was all over after that. I lost 25 pounds in probably six weeks—just working out two hours a day, eating healthy—it shed right off."
Based on Phelps' Body Issue appearance, it is almost as if he never missed a beat. Phelps still has a lot of work to do if he wants to compete at the highest level and win medals in Rio, but all signs point to him being on the right track.
While Jamie Anderson isn't quite as decorated from an Olympic perspective as Phelps, she has most definitely developed into one of the most popular American Olympians over the past year. Anderson took gold in slopestyle snowboarding at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia and captured the hearts of many with her free-spirited personality.
Anderson also happens to be an attractive, elite-level athlete, which made her an obvious choice for The Body Issue. Anderson tweeted a photo of her cover prior to the official release of the magazine and helped raise her profile to an even higher level:
Despite having a body of which most are probably envious, Anderson doesn't believe she has a perfect physique. Even so, she is happy with what she has, per Ain.
"I don't think I'm your typical rock-hard ripped girl," Anderson said. "But that's what I love and embrace about myself. I feel good, but I always feel like I can be better. That's what I thrive on."
The fact that Anderson doesn't obsess over her body is a positive message, and it should help her become an even bigger role model than she already is.
As a three-time selection for the NBA All-Defensive First Team and a key cog in the Oklahoma City Thunder's attack, forward Serge Ibaka is among the NBA's most important players. There are many reasons why he has had so much success, but his body may top the list.
At 6'10" and 245 pounds, Ibaka is a physical specimen, to say the least. Opposing players find it nearly impossible to score on him in the paint due to his length, and he is tough to push around because of his strength as well. This photo from ESPN The Magazine on Twitter illustrates just how imposing Ibaka can be:
Ibaka has the drive to be as physically fit as possible and is committed to his craft. Even though Ibaka has a reputation as a gym rat, he would prefer to work out even more than he already does, according to Ain.
"I wish I had more body parts that I could work out," Ibaka said. "If I had my way, I'd be in the gym all day. I love to lift. When I don't have basketball practice, I'll be in a gym for 2.5 hours - 30 minutes abs, two hours lifting."
Whatever Ibaka is doing currently seems to be working. He is one of the NBA's best all-around players and he will be a huge part of OKC's success moving forward. Ibaka is the type of player every team would love to have, but there aren't many athletes quite like him.
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