The highly anticipated release of ESPN The Magazine's 2015 Body Issue is officially here, as revealing photos of all 24 participating athletes were released Monday on ESPN.com.
Every year since 2009, the Body Issue has celebrated the athletic form in all its glory. Some of the biggest stars in sports have posed for the magazine over the years, and several more significant names joined the fray this year.
The 2015 edition of the Body Issue features the likes of Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper, reigning French Open champion Stan Wawrinka, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Women's World Cup champion Ali Krieger, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love and many more.
Here is a full rundown of everyone who decided to pose for this year's issue:
|2015 Body Issue Athletes|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||Football|
|Amanda Bingson||Hammer Throw|
|Paige Selenski||Field Hockey|
All of them have to be in great shape in order to excel in their respective fields, but since every sport requires different skills, there is a great deal of variation among the athletes involved.
There are several alternate covers, as is the case every year, but chief among them is this snapshot of Harper provided by ESPN's Instagram account:
The 22-year-old outfielder is already among the best players in baseball, and he promises to be a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate for many years to come. According to ESPN.com's Stacey Pressman, the Nats superstar believes he is in a better place physically than ever before:
I worked hard this offseason to get my body where I needed to get it because, finally, I wasn't hurt. I was able to work every single muscle in my body head to toe. In 2013, I had the knee injury; the year before that, I just wasn't healthy. Now, I feel great. I feel light. My body feels pretty unbelievable.
Harper isn't alone in terms of budding stars adorning the pages of the Body Issue, as Beckham Jr. is part of the phenomenon as well:
OBJ immediately established himself as one of the NFL's best wideouts as a rookie last season by posting 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 12 games.
They are joined by Love, who fell just short of winning an NBA title in his first season as a member of the Cavs.
The 26-year-old big man was injured for the vast majority of the playoffs, but he recently agreed to a new contract with Cleveland, and if this photo from his Instagram account is any indication of his physical condition, the Cavaliers have to be considered among the favorites to win it all in 2016:
The Body Issue isn't a male-dominated affair, though, as Raisman adds some feminine touch to the magazine.
The 21-year-old gymnast was a dominant force for Team USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London as she took gold in the team event and floor exercise while also securing bronze in the balance beam. This ESPN Instagram photo perfectly captures the strength it takes to excel in the sport of gymnastics:
While the aforementioned athletes are essentially household names, ESPN also allowed some lesser-known competitors to show their stuff.
Among them is heptathlete Chantae McMillan, who qualified for the 2012 Summer Games. In this action shot from ESPN's Instagram, the 27-year-old native of Missouri displays her remarkable athleticism:
The Body Issue also strives to showcase athletes from less conventional sports, which it certainly accomplished this year by featuring surfer Laird Hamilton, wakeboarder Dallas Friday and skateboarder Leticia Bufoni, according to X Games on Twitter:
Those who peruse the Body Issue are likely to draw many conclusions, but chief among them is the fact that athletes' bodies vary significantly from one sport to the next.
There is no one perfect body type for an athlete, but those who took part in this year's shoot have molded themselves into beings capable of excelling in their respective disciplines.
The Body Issue never ceases to impress in terms of its ability to hit every aspect of the sporting spectrum, and the 2015 edition is no different.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter