Top Olympians bare all in ESPN The Magazine's annual Body Issue
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MMA champion Ronda Rousey's ESPN cover is one of six the magazine published for this year's edition of The Body Issue. In 2004, Rousey qualified for the 2004 Olympics at just 17, making her the youngest Judo competitor ever, and in 2008, she took home the bronze medal—the first American woman to do so ever since the sport's Olympic inception in 1992.
As an MMA fighter, Rousey's no stranger to danger. "I'm trying to be the most dangerous unarmed woman in the world. I want to be remembered as somebody who had zero respect for the limits placed in front of her," she told ESPN The Magazine.
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Hottie Danell Leyva scored the highest marks at the men's gymnastics trials in San Jose, securing him an automatic place on the 2012 team. Leyva, who is Cuban-American (his parents were Cuban gymnasts), was the 2011 U.S. National all-around gold medalist and the 2nd place winner at U.S. Visa National Championships. The talented gymnast also has his own signature move—a jam-dislocate-hop to undergrips on the horizontal bar.
I had the opportunity to see Leyva perform in the men's trials this year, and he really is as hot in person as he is in photos. But if you ask him, he wouldn't think so! "If I could describe my body in one word, it would be hairy," he told ESPN.
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U.S. national women's soccer team leader Abby Wambach isn't the first American soccer player to pose in The Body Issue (her teammate Hope Solo has that honor), but she agreed to do it because she wanted to show the world how comfortable she was with her body—no matter what her size.
"I wanted these shots to represent what we were all trying to capture which was powerful, strong, athletics. This is a person's career and their life work right there in one picture," Wambach says in ESPN's exclusive interview. "We want to show people that no matter who you are, no matter what body type you have, that's beautiful."
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New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler decided to strip down and pose nude for one of the covers of this year's Body Issue after seeing the artistic way in which past issues had been shot. Although Chandler said he faces some challenges with his body (for example, he doesn't really fit in most airplane bathrooms), he said he wanted to give readers an idea of why athletes are able to do what they do.
"I think people are really curious, so I wanted to allow people to look at my body and see why I'm able to do the things I can do on the court," he said.
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Tennis star Daniela Hantuchova works hard for her body! If she's not playing tennis, Hantuchova's running, lifting weights, or playing golf. But the 29-year-old also has a sweet tooth.
"I can eat like crazy. Nutella on anything—I have a weakness for that," she told ESPN. "I can't tell you how many jars of Nutella I can go through. It's embarrassing."
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Decathlete Ashton Eaton, who set a world record at the 2012 Olympic track and field trials for the decathlon, told ESPN,"The decathlon is the test to determine the best all-around athlete. We run, jump, throw implements, hurdles, pole vault. It's like the SATs of athletics."
With a rigorous training schedule that includes the pole vault, 400-meter training, running, lifting weights, underwater intervals, and more, Eaton says he's looking forward to taking a break after the Olympics.
Want to see more (literally) of your favorite athletes? Check out ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue, on newsstands now!