At the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, arguably the most famous model from that country, Gisele Bündchen, strutted her stuff across the stadium. It was certainly foreshadowing for what was going to come over the next two weeks as some of the world’s best - and sexiest - athletes competed for medals in dozens of sports.
We all have the idea of the perfect woman somewhere in our heads and while some may be brunette and others may be blonde, some may be tall or thin, whatever it is, you were bound to find someone who fit your fantasy at the Summer Games. Watching day after day, regardless of the sport, we started to wonder if some of the countries sending athletes to Brazil had some kind of a “beautiful person” policy.
When did female athletes become so beautiful? We’ve seen footage from the 1970s. You’re not going to find 6-foot-tall blondes with no body fat who can swim, run, throw or kick better than anybody you’ve ever met. What’s also nice is that most of these girls are not the kind of wallflowers that don’t recognize their beauty, nor are they super-serious, getting angry when someone comments on their beauty as well as their brawn. Many of these women are actually models when they’re not impressing the world.
There’s one major flaw with the Summer Olympics. It’s too short. And they show too many men’s sports. We want women’s beach volleyball and diving and water polo and soccer, not old fat guys playing bow-and-arrow or Incredible Hulk lookalikes throwing a cannonball on a chain as far as they come. When the Olympics head to Tokyo in 2020, we hope the people deciding what to show keep in mind there are a lot of us who only care about most of these sports for a couple days every four years. Show us some eye candy and maybe we’ll be interested the other 206 weeks in between Olympics in gymnastics and swimming. With that suggestion, we look back to the 2016 Summer Games and remember some of our favorite, most beautiful, athletes.
20 Amber Hill - Great Britain
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There are few things that catch a man’s attention than a powerful, smart and beautiful woman except for a powerful, smart and beautiful woman carrying a large gun. Hill competed for “Team GB” in Rio and was expected to be one of the favorites in individuals’ skeet shooting and the 19-year-old whose Instagram you should immediately follow didn’t disappoint anybody except herself losing in the “six-strong” semifinal against her Italian opponent, Diana Bacosi. Ironically, or perhaps cruelly, Hill defeated Bacosi European’s largest shooting competition. Hill admitted her pride to a bit of a hit not being able to make it to the gold medal competition, but she did manage to take home a bronze. With shooting not nearly the physical grind of some Olympic sports, we expect to see her for many years to come at future Olympics and will supplement in between with the sexy pics (some with guns) on Instagram.
19 Allie Long - USA
Her teammate Hope Solo gets most of the headlines, interviews and modelling opportunities (including in nothing but paint for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue several years ago) and while Solo is a better player at her respective position than Long, for straight beauty, we’d want Long on our team. Long’s biggest claim to fame before making the Olympic team was as a midfielder on the North Carolina Tar Heels team that won the NCAA women’s tournament in 2008. Since leaving college she’s been on-and-off the US Women’s Team as she bounced around playing professional soccer in both Europe and the United States, currently a member of the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League. When it came time to decide the US team for Rio, Long was originally not one of the 26 players invited to tryouts. Members of the team kept pushing for her to join and she was allowed to participate in a few friendly games with Colombia and Japan in June and July, just before the teams had to be finalized. Long was given the final spot on a time that was knocked out of the Olympic tournament far before anybody expected. It’s not Long’s fault though. She didn’t get much time on the field.
18 Aliya Mustafina - Russia
Even with all of the coverage gymnastics gets on the American primetime broadcasts during the Summer Olympics, if you’re not on the United States team, you’re going to have to be amazing to see any TV time. Mustafina, of Russia, is one of the non-Americans who has been given a little bit of the spotlight but considering her resume, you’d think she deserves as much recognition as Aly Raisman or Simone Biles. First, at the 2012 games in London, Mustafina captured gold in the uneven bars, silver in the team competition and bronze in both the individual all-around and floor exercise. Her follow-up appearance in 2016 was just as impressive with the Russian claiming her second straight gold in uneven bars, second straight silver in team competition and second straight bronze in the all-around, finishing behind Raisman and Biles. Maybe you think she’s not pretty enough for TV. Wrong. If gymnastics were a beauty competition, she’d be heading into 2020’s games as the two-time defending champion.
17 Genevieve Lacaze – Australia
Within every sports category there is always an event or two that sticks out as extra unique and for track and field, that event is the steeplechase. It’s a long run around a track periodically interrupted by a single, super-thick hurdle. On the other side of the hurdle is a small pool of water. The best technique seems to be timing your stride to use the hurdle as a launching pad to get over the water. Make a mistake and you could end up face down in a puddle. It sounds more like an immunity challenge on Survivor than an event at the Summer Olympics. Anyway, people train for this and winning gets you a gold medal as valid as any other event’s. Despite living in the United States for almost a decade when she arrived at the University of Florida, she represented her home country of Australia in the 2012 and 2016 games. After almost being left off the team in 2012 because of politics, she failed to qualify in London, but made up for that in Rio, taking ninth place in the final, finishing higher than any Australian woman in history.
16 Jaqueline Carvalho - Brazil
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings made beach volleyball a sport for everyone, not just guys looking for some eye candy, to follow in their Olympic gold medal winning runs at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Indoor team volleyball is a completely different animal and it’s one statuesque beauty Jacqueline Carvalho, playing in front of her hometown crowd, excels at. It’s ridiculous to think a big part of the lure of beach volley isn’t the skimpy outfits the girls have to pull out of their butt crack, but fans of team volleyball know 6’ 1” Carvalho can bring it and doesn’t have to show her abs the whole time. Despite the home field advantage, the Brazilian team missed out on a medal completely, placing fifth after two consecutive gold medals. After three Olympics, Carvalho has talked about moving on from a volleyball career. Might we suggest international model?
15 Mariana Pajón Londoño - Colombia
Hoy tuve el honor de estar en la inauguración de la nueva y muy merecida pista para el caribe (pista M.P.K en Sabanalarga, Atl) y me devolví con 2 nuevos integrantes para la familia. Les presento a #Campanito (y @vincentpelluard adoptó a #Oro) 🐐 jajajaja Gracias por la invitación y por este regalo tan bacano que me llevo para Medellín.
When you think of female BMX powerhouse countries with good looking athletes, you probably don’t think of Colombia, but then again, how often are you thinking about female BMX powerhouse countries? After getting one look at Mariana Pajón Londoño, you’ll probably develop a sudden interest in the sport. It’s too bad she has to have the helmet on most of the time, but the very successful brunette has rectified that, ending up on most medal stands at event she’s competed. She became the first Colombian athlete to win two gold medals in the same event at different Olympic games. The coffee-producing can company can only claim five gold medals over their entire Olympic history. In London in 2012 there was no doubt Pajón was the best, finishing first every heat and taking the title with a time of 37.706 seconds. We hope Colombia continues to send Pajón. She’s more than a national hero to most of us watching.
14 Aly Raisman - USA
It’s hard to go too far on a list of beautiful Olympians without mentioning Aly Raisman. Thankfully for those of us in America she still pops up on the occasional talk show or detergent commercial. Vacillating between giving carefully worded interviews or letting it all hang loose, Raisman, a Massachusetts native, appears to know the Olympics are supposed to be fun - but it’s also serious business. Some questioned if she’d perform in Rio as well as she did in London because at 22, she’s an old lady by gymnastics standards. She proved any naysayers wrong, first as part of the “Final Five” squad capturing gold in the team competition, then earning a silver medal in the all-around final and another silver in the individual floor exercise. If not for her once-in-a-generation teammate Simone Biles always squeaking ahead of her in scores, we might be talking about Raisman as one of the all-time greats in Olympic history. Like many Olympians who try to stay relevant between games (cough, Ryan Lochte, cough) Raisman was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. She was just out of medal contention there, placing fourth.
13 Son Yeon-jae - South Korea
There are certain sports that are hard to take completely seriously in the Olympics. Compared to teammates who are swimming, diving and playing water polo, synchronized swimming is pretty lame. And while we think trampolining (yeah, that’s a real sport) is the goofiest sport in the Olympics, one of the bigger insults to traditional gymnastics is rhythmic gymnastics, which look more like a rookie Cirque du Soleil act than something worthy of a competition. That off our chest, some of the girls who like to fling streamers and batons into the air are pretty good looking, especially Son Yeon-jae, a 22-year-old rhythmic gymnast from South Korea. At the Rio Olympics, she finished in the absolute cruelest place possible, fourth. On the bright side, it was better than her fifth place finish in London in 2012. If there’s a pattern forming, hopefully she’ll return in 2016 to capture that bronze that keeps eluding her. Honestly though, we probably would just wait for the highlights on ESPN.
12 Federica Pellegrini - Italy
For every success story of a multi-time Olympian like Michael Phelps, there are stories of people who just keep trying and trying, sometimes hitting and sometimes missing. Such is the case for Italy’s Federica Pellegrini, a great swimming...most of the time. At age 16 she went to her first Olympics. The 2004 games held in Athens, Greece. She captured the silver medal, the youngest Italian ever to capture a medal, and was looked upon as the future of Italy’s swimming program. Four years later in Beijing, she was the favorite in the 400 meter freestyle but finished in fifth place. She shrugged off that disappoint and won her first gold medal in the 200 meter freestyle. London was a rough rode for her in 2012, placing fifth in both of her freestyle events. Coming back for her fourth Olympics in Rio just led to more disappointment, the closest she could come to a medal was a painful fourth place finish in the 200 meter freestyle finals. Without coming out and saying “I quit,” Pellegrini has given every indication there will not be a fifth summer games in her future. Being the best in your country is one thing, being best in the world is another.
11 Ellen Hoog - The Netherlands
If you’re reading this in North America, field hockey is the kind of thing you see the girls not good enough for soccer play in high school, but once your public education is over, you forget about it, just like geometry. It’s also a sport only played by women on this side of the Atlantic, but it’s a much bigger deal in Europe, with professional leagues (including men’s) and when you’re talking about the best, Ellen Hoog of The Netherlands should be at the top of everybody’s list. She’s played in three Olympics and her team has almost been perfect, taking golds in both Beijing and London. While Hoog did take the winning shot against Germany in the semifinals, The Netherlands just came up short, winning their first team silver medal, in a heartbreaker. After going to a 3-3 regulation time final with Great Britain, Hoog and team lost 2-0 in a penalty shoot-out. It almost makes field hockey sound exciting.
10 Natasha Hastings - USA
Track and field used to be an area where athletes in the early 20s dominated, but over the last couple of Summer Olympics, we’ve seen people who started in the games at that age continue to return into their early-to-mid 30s. Sprinter Natasha Hastings of the United States is a beautiful woman who is following that trend. Her first Olympic medal came at the 2008 games as part of the Women’s 4 x 400 meter relay, running 49.97 seconds in her leg during the second heat of competition. She was replaced in the final by Allyson Felix but in track and field, athletes who participate in heats are also awarded medals. She was 22 then, but hadn’t slowed a bit when she was named to the US team after finishing third in the US trials in the 400 meter. She didn’t walk away with a medal from Rio in 2016, but some consolation must come in the fact she ran a personal best in the 150 meter straight-track race in a competition in England at the age of 30 that year.
9 Darya Klishina - Russia
As far as Russian women’s long-jump history goes, Darya Klishina was a complete failure, leading the women to their first non-medal finish in the event in 20 years. As an athlete to hold up as a role model for doing the right thing and saying no to peer pressure, there are few Olympians, Russian or otherwise, who can match Klishina. The entire Russian track and field team was suspended by the International Olympic Committee for violating anti-doping. The one exception was Klishina. Well, until August 13, three days before her event when the decision to allow her to compete was overturned. She protested, pointing to the corruption in the Russian athlete testing arena and on August 15, the night before the event, her appeal was granted and she was back in. As expected, she qualified for the final, but ended the event in ninth place overall. It seems ridiculous to think the stress of the few days leading up to her jumps didn’t play a part. Either way, she can hold her head high as the one Russian athlete who was cleared of doping allegations, no matter what place she finished.
8 Emma Coburn - USA
Three thousand meters is 1.86 miles. A physically fit person is expected to be able to run a mile in between 7 and 9 minutes. Running 1.86 miles in 9 minutes, 7 seconds is impressive in those terms. It’s even more impressive when you’re doing it with the weight of a country, thousands watching in a stadium and the ghosts of your past. Despite these obstacles, and despite of us making fun of steeplechase elsewhere on this list, Emma Coburn of the United States deserves a lot of credit for her bronze winning medal performance at the 2016 Summer Olympics. In 2012, when she was the youngest woman on the US track team at 21, Coburn scored a personal best time of 9 minutes, 23 seconds, but it was only good enough for ninth place. She knew that she’d have to shave a lot of time off that mark if she was going to have a chance in Rio. Not only was her 2016 Olympic performance good enough for third, she shined when it mattered, beating her personal best by several seconds. We’re hoping this beautiful blonde 25-year-old is planning on many more Olympics to splash around at.
7 Lauren Sesselmann – Canada
☀️My beautiful office for the week☀️ Relaxing before the craziness of filming my new workout programs for @officialfitasapro begins Ahhhh🙌🏼👊🏼💪🏼🎥🎬 #StrongIsBeautiful #Athlete #BeYourBestSelf #Fitness #EmbraceYourCurves #Miami .............. ☀️Mi bonita oficina por la semana☀️ Relajándome antes de empezar la locura de grabar mis nuevos programas de ejercicios para @officialfitasapro🙌🏼👊🏼💪🏼
Do you ever watch the Olympics and wonder why a third of people competing for other countries seem to be from America? Basically, it comes down to the fact they’d never make it for the U.S. Olympic Team, but they can dominate in other, less populated countries. That’s the case for Wisconsin-born Lauren Sesselmann, who won a bronze medal with Team Canada at the 2012 Olympics in London. She was able to gain Canadian citizenship in 2010 because her father was born in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We’d complain it doesn’t really make her Canadian, but then we realize we never would have been introduced to this lovely lady who also represented her father’s birthland in Rio. One of the more unique things about Sesselmann is that she’s been able to translate some of her success on the field into commercial endeavors, such as serving as producer and host of the fitness DVD program Fit As A Pro with Lauren Sesselmann.
6 Michelle Jenneke – Australia
Remember, this list is about attractive Olympians we miss seeing on our television screens, not the best in their sports. Michelle Jenneke is, by Olympic Games standards, a below-average hurdler. At Rio, she finished sixth in her heat and missed the finals by a long shot. OK, now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the important stuff. She went viral in 2012 when videos of her pre-race warmup dance caught the attention of the world, with almost 20 million people watching on YouTube worldwide. She’s parlayed that fame, and the fact she’s an actual real-life model into a nice little media career in Australia. Forget her race statistics, the most important is that she was ranked 10th on AskMen.com’s 99 Most Desirable Women of 2013 and she was featured in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue that same year. By Australian standards, she’s a decent hurdler. By world standards, she’s beautiful.
5 Ana Ivanovic - Serbia
If you’re from Serbia, it was probably a tough blow to the country to see Ana Ivanovic, a former French Open champion ousted from the first round of women’s singles tennis competition in Rio. She also made it to the French Open finals in 2007 and Australian Open finals in 2008. She seemed like a sure thing, but after briefly reaching the pinnacle of the tennis world, she has slowly seen her success erode. If you’re from the rest of the world it was a tough blow to see such a beautifully lady exit. Then again, the Olympics have never been kind to this former No. 1 ranked player. Despite her grand slam win in 2008, she had a rough time in Beijing that year and can add Rio to her list of disappoints that seem to be growing as she gets older, with or without partners. Still, at only 28 she could see a career resurgence and be back in 2020.
4 Brooke Stratton - Australia
It’s the dream of every athlete to somehow capture a medal at their first Summer Olympic games, and unless it’s gymnastics, it often takes a second and sometimes third trip to the big show before they find themselves on the podium. If we were going to wager on someone who will likely be back in 2020 and leaving Tokyo with a medal, we’d put our money on the lovely Brooke Stratton of Australia. She hit a personal best prior to the Olympics at an Australian track and field meet, jumping just over 23 feet, 1 inch. That broke a 14-year-old Australian record. She couldn’t repeat that distance in Rio, but she did manage a 22 feet, 11 inches mark that was good enough to place seventh in the finals. There’s just something about a beautiful woman flying through the air and we hope to see Stratton back next time around.
3 Shelina Zadorsky - Canada
There were a few major upsets in the women’s soccer event at Rio in 2016, with two of the biggest coming from North America. First, is that the American team couldn’t make it to the semifinals after dominating for the last 15 years internationally. Second, which involves the beautiful Shelina Zadorsky, was Canada making it all the way to the bronze medal. We know soccer isn’t nearly as popular in this part of the world as Europe, but Americans were under the impression they were better than the Canadians at the sport. When not capturing medals for her home country, this starting back spends her time earning money on the pitch, playing professionally for the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League. There are plenty of sexy female athletes that try to play down their looks but not Zadorsky. She’s got a website full of photos and videos to keep us occupied until Canada returns in Tokyo in 2020.
2 Pernille Blume - Denmark
While the American Olympic swimming world has been gaga over Michael Phelps for the last several Olympics there were other countries with swimmers who had inspiring stories of their own. One such story is that of Pernille Blume, a swimmer from Denmark who didn’t let her first Olympic experience define her, instead coming back and winning the first gold medal for her country since 1948 at the Rio Olympics. In 2012, she entered five events but the results were, in a word, bad. She entered five events and couldn’t get out of the heats in four of them. The only one she reached the final round was the 4 x 100 meter freestyle team relay, but her team ended up in sixth place. Blume went back to the pool, dedicated herself to greatness and returned in Rio a different swimmer. She again entered five events, finishing better in each one than she did four years earlier, including a gold for the 50 meter freestyle. In 2012, she finished in 26th place. Her team also did better, capturing the bronze this time around. For her contribution to Denmark’s success, Blume was the flag bearer for her country at the closing ceremonies. Maybe we’re partial to Nordic blondes with blue eyes, but it wouldn’t surprise us if she was the most beautiful woman in her country.
1 Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr - Switzerland
It’s a two-for-one! Fourth place is the worst to finish at the Summer Olympics, right? You get so close to a medal and it just eludes your grasp. So is fifth place actually better, at least mentally? One of the people you could get that answer from is Joana Heidrich, who went quite a long way with her equally as hot partner, Nadine Zumkehr, in the women’s beach volleyball tournament in Rio. While it often seems like a pre-requisite for playing beach volleyball is to have one amazingly beautiful player and an average one who seems to do the heavy lifting, this duo is about as evenly matched in every aspect of the game. Physically, the only major difference between these two Swiss athletes is that Heidrich, at 6’3” is much taller, and therefore the spiker for the team. Zumkehr is 31 while Heidrich is 25, which means they could still have a lot of beach volleyball left in them. With the likely disbanding of some of the top teams from Rio, these lovely ladies from Switzerland may end up atop that medal stand.