With the Rio 2016 Olympics nearly upon us and much digital ink spilled over behind-the-scenes chaos, let's turn our attentions onto more positive subjects: the athletes! Specifically, super hot athletes, of which there are many and for whom there are never enough condoms in the Olympic Village.
And because there were so many contenders for this list -- which, trust, has been thoroughly and happily researched -- some omissions had to be made. As per the previous Summer Olympics list, this post features sports that aren't regularly covered in media (i.e., no basketball, golf, soccer, or tennis -- with one exceptional exception because I CAN'T NOT). For the sake of more
abs variety, holdovers from London 2012 haven't been included. I also tried to limit the number of times that a sport or a country was featured, but 1) USA is gonna USA (this blog and its primary readership, at least), and 2) men's swimming is the premier sport of abs-y shirtlessness, so it's well represented here.* OH DARN.
*Along with the teensy attire that typically goes with it, so consider this an NSFW warning if your employer wouldn't appreciate you appreciating scantily clad Olympians.
Nicola Adams (age 33)
Great Britain, Boxing
So Nicola is a freaking pioneer: at the London 2012 Games, she became the first woman and the first openly LGBTQ person to win an Olympic gold medal for boxing. She very nearly could have been Team GB's flag bearer in Rio, but we'll have to settle for watching her kick butt in the boxing ring.
Nathan Adrian (age 27)
Hasn't it seemed like a different U.S. male swimmer's had a pop culture breakthrough at every Olympics? OK, it's happen, like, two times since I've started paying attention -- Michael Phelps in Athens 2004 and Ryan Lochte in London 2012 (how innocent we once were, in the time before "Jeah") -- but twice can be a pattern! Long since overshadowed by his teammates, here's to Nathan Adrian ascending to the mantle of hearthrob swimmer -- if only so we can get more of these literally cheeky photoshoots.
Matt Anderson (age 29)
Team USA was knocked out of the World League tournament by Team Brazil a few weeks ago, so they'll be wanting to avenge that loss when the two meet again in their Olympic pool. Matt here kind of looks like what would happen if Henry Cavill and Cillian Murphy had a son who's really good at volleyball and likes tattoos.
Melissa Bishop (age 27)
Canada, Middle-Distance Running
Melissa broke her own Canadian record a couple of weeks ago, so here's hoping she'll replicate her success in Rio because GO CANADA.
Usain Bolt (age 29)
Will the fastest man alive complete the Olympic three-peat? At the very least, he'll be entertaining as usual, since he's just promised that Team USA's Justin Gatlin will "feel his full wrath".
Jordan Burroughs (age 28)
Tom Daley (age 22)
Great Britain, Diving
How could anyone forget diving's gift to the London Olympics -- emphasis on GIF -- who won a bronze medal in front of the home crowd? Tom's active on his Youtube channel, on which he used years ago to announce his relationship with now-fiancé, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk).
Damian De Allende (age 24)
South Africa, Rugby
OK, this one is technically cheating; Damian was injured shortly after he was named to the team, but he wasn't able to recover in time. Howevs, I didn't want to deny y'all this beefcake photo, so here we are.
Andre De Grasse (age 21)
Uh, YOU BET I'm featuring a Toronto-based athlete whose name is a letter and a space away from being DeGrassi. Andre's looking to unseat Usain Bolt as the reigning Olympic champion OMG OMG I'M SO NERVOUS GO ANDRE GO CANADA FOREVER AND EVER AMEN.
Luca Dotto (age 26)
Luca is the first Italian man to break 48 seconds in the 100 metre freestyle, and he also models on the side.
Fernanda Gonzalez (age 26)
The current holder of every (!!!) Mexican backstroking record, Fernanda was once threatened with a lifetime ban for refusing to compete in an ill-fitted suit. (Which didn't happen, although I wasn't able to find her listed on the Rio 2016 site or infer from her Twitter whether she's actually there.)
Rhys Howden (age 29)
Australia, Water Polo
In 2015, Rhys captained his team to an underdog victory at the FINA Intercontinental Tournament. They lost their bid to repeat in a hard-fought gold medal match against USA back in May, so they'll be hoping for a better ending in Rio.
Zsuzsanna Jakabos (age 27)
Zsuzsanna's pretty active on Instagram, if you've ever wanted a glimpse into the glamourous life of a competitive swimmer. (Is it just me, or does she kind of look like Phoebe Tonkin from The Originals? Esp. in her Insta photos.)
Arthur Mariano (age 22)
OH GEEZ: Arthur and two of his teammates once got in trouble for making racist remarks to a black teammate. Let's hope Arthur has since learned from his insensitivity so that his Instagram can be perused in peace.
Oussama Mellouli (age 32)
Tunisia, Marathon Swimming
Already a three-time Olympic medalist, Oussama might be facing his toughest challenge yet: Brazilian poop water.
Morgan Mitchell (age 21)
After Morgan changed up her training routine, she started shattering her personal bests. Sacrificing donuts is serious business, y'all.
Sam Mikulak (age 23)
Sam is a sci-fi nerd with washboard abs who wanted to be an astronaut and has a crush on Hermione Granger. HELLOOOOO, Olympic dreamboat.
Ning Zetao (age 23)
Zetao's Wiki trivia section is a gem to behold: his nickname translates to 'meat bun' because of both his chubby cheeks as a youth and his love of the food, and his "great politeness" has been cited as a reason for his popularity. Then there is, of course, the more obvi explanation.
Park Tae-hwan (age 26)
South Korea, Swimming
Whoa, Tae-hwan's career has had D-R-A-M-A: sponsorships and funding dropping out, an 18-month suspension for doping, being banned from the national team even after the suspension, and then able to compete in Rio 2016 after all.
Matheus Santana (age 20)
It was a real Sophie's choice, deciding between Matheus and his fellow swimming countryman, Marcelo Chierighini. Ultimately, I went with the one whose photo can be used to play spot the Olympic tattoo. (Although Matheus is another swimmer that I can't find on the Rio 2016 site -- even though the Olympic organization interviewed him just last week. Get it together, website!)
Paige Selenski (age 26)
USA, Field Hockey
Paige and her team have a tall task in front of them, as the Dutch squad will be seeking an unprecedented third consecutive Olympic gold medal in women's field hockey.
Donnell Whittenburg (age 21)
Serena Williams (age 34)
I'll be honest: I haven't always been a Serena Williams fan, but her undeniable greatness eventually made me see the light. In a sport with a short career span, Serena has been dominating for over twenty years and shows no signs of slowing down. We may truly be witnessing the greatest athlete of all time. LONG MAY SHE REIGN.
This list is by no means comprehensive -- because, HELLO, this is an international gathering of the world's finest physical specimens (and I do mean fiiiiiine) -- so please feel free to submit your visual research in the comments. FOR SCIENCE.