ESPN The Magazine's "The Body Issue" has celebrated athletes' tools of the trade since 2009, and the highly anticipated release of the 2015 edition featuring superstars such as Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is finally here.
"The Body Issue" photos will be available on ESPN.com Monday, and the magazine itself officially hits newsstands July 10. Athletes and the manner in which they're built are extremely unique across different sports, and nothing does a better job celebrating that fact than "The Body Issue."
With the seventh annual unveiling of "The Body Issue" on the horizon, here is a full listing of the athletes included, as well as a sneak preview of some of the biggest names that bared it all.
|2015 ESPN The Magazine Body Issue Athletes|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||Football|
|Amanda Bingson||Hammer Throw|
|Paige Selenski||Field Hockey|
Body Issue Preview
Harper has been heralded as baseball's next big thing for the past several years despite the fact that he's only 22, but the exciting slugger is coming into his own during the 2015 season as one of the best and most complete players MLB has to offer.
The Las Vegas native is hitting over .330 with 24 home runs for the NL East-leading Nats, and he is very much in the running for National League MVP honors. A huge reason for Harper's success this year is the fact that his body is in elite condition.
According to ESPN.com's Stacey Pressman, Harper altered his training regimen at the behest of teammate Ian Desmond, and it has paid major dividends:
I'm about eight percent body fat right now. I think the lowest I'd been was 13, so it's pretty special. I'm down to 208 (pounds) from 240—actually back where I was in college. I sat down with Ian Desmond at the end of the year, and he told me: 'You don't need to be that big. Be as limber as you can. Be as flexible as you can.' And that's the way Ian is—he's like a boxer. Ripped as can be, works hard, but doesn't pick up that many weights. It's more body-weight stuff. So I really listened to him; I'm right where I need to be, and I'm excited.
Harper's transformation has led to the best campaign of his young career, and ESPN has certainly taken notice. While not everyone is receptive to posing nude, Harper made it clear on Instagram that he is honored to be part of "The Body Issue":
There are several candidates with regard to athletes capable of dominating the sports world for the next decade, but based upon how good Harper has become at such a young age, he may very well be at the top of that list.
Being part of "The Body Issue" is another feather in his cap, but there are many more major accomplishments to come.
Soccer's popularity in the United States has exploded in recent years, and a big reason for that is the success of the U.S. Women's National Team. The Americans will face China in the Women's World Cup final Sunday, and defender Ali Krieger promises to be front and center.
The 30-year-old veteran is part of a Team USA back line that enters the final having allowed just one goal throughout the entire tournament. There is no question that Krieger has been a huge part of that, which represents a great story of redemption considering what happened to her prior to the 2012 Summer Olympics, according to Morty Ain of ESPN The Magazine:
Even just thinking about it now gets me pretty upset. I was doing so well during the World Cup in 2011 and I was so pumped about the Olympics, and then I had my knee injury. To have those dreams crushed by some girl who makes one bad tackle was pretty upsetting. I had to just cheer everyone on at the Olympics instead of being able to help the team. Everything else was out of my control.
Krieger has bounced back, and there is no question that her incredible fitness level has plenty to do with that. She has a body made for soccer, and the world will get a chance to see that in "The Body Issue."
Until then, ESPN provided a great teaser photo on Twitter:
Being a defender in soccer can be a thankless job, especially on a team that boasts attacking talent such as Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux. Krieger doesn't always receive the credit she deserves, but she is almost always one of the biggest driving forces behind the team's success.
Most players' soccer careers are winding down at the age of 30, but Krieger is arguably playing better than she ever has, and based on the kind of shape she's in, it isn't outside the realm of possibility that she could be part of Team USA at the 2019 Women's World Cup as well.
Three years after taking gold in the team competition and floor exercise as well as bronze in the balance beam at the 2012 Olympics, gymnast Aly Raisman is set to take another run at the Summer Games. But first, the 21-year-old native of Needham, Massachusetts, is taking part in "The Body Issue."
Gymnasts tend to have intriguing looks since they pack a lot of muscle onto small frames, and Raisman is no exception. As seen in this photo courtesy of ESPNW on Twitter, the former "Dancing With the Stars" competitor is ideally built for the rigors of gymnastics:
Looking different than the typical woman is something that might bother some people, but Raisman embraces the fact that she strays from the norm, according to Ain:
"I think imperfection is beauty," Raisman said. "Instead of being insecure about my muscles, I've learned to love them. I don't even think of it as a flaw anymore because it's made me into the athlete that I am."
Raisman's state of mind is precisely the type of opinion ESPN is attempting to promote with "The Body Issue." Raisman and so many others featured in the magazine are unconventional, but that is what allows them to excel.
Gymnastics is a sport that features a great deal of turnover in four years due to the short shelf life of its athletes, but every indication is that Raisman will be back in action and ready to vie for gold once again in Rio de Janeiro.
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