It’s an Olympic year, and when it’s an Olympic year it means one thing…ogling the women of the International Track and Field Community. (No, it’s not an actual organization, but it looks official, doesn’t it?) Yes. That’s a jab at men everywhere—even the hipsters who are only interested in the athletic prowess of the amateur and professional athletes. We could lie, and suggest there won’t be 50 stories about certain female track and field athletes that will feature their aesthetic beauty, but we know the score. So, we’re beating them to the punch.
10. Michelle Jenneke
Oh, everyone knows Michelle “Shelly” Jenneke. Her name may not ring a bell, but her pre-race warm-up certainly will. Michelle is an Australian sprinter who enjoyed a rapid rise to fame after her little dance before the gun became all the rage. Shelly is one of those track and field athletes who has enjoyed great success on the track, as well as off the track in the realm of modeling. And that pre-race dance that thrust her into the internet spotlight? It happened in 2012 when she was only 18 years old and just scratching the surface of international track and field competition. Now, at 22, we can expect to see a lot more of Michelle at the 2016 Olympic Games, representing her native Australia—if she qualifies in the 100m hurdles, of course.
9. Maggie Vessey
Maggie Vessey is considered the most stylish woman in track and field. She is an American sprinter who has specialized in the 400m and 800m, and continues to compete at a high level in her mid-30s. Maggie is a California girl, and she possess an impressive business savvy. Knowing that track and field had become a bit stale in terms of sportswear, she launched a clothing line specializing in competitive wear for female athletes who aren’t afraid of turning heads. It’s something that Maggie knows a little about. Maggie continued to compete in 2015, and it’s expected that she’ll make a push at the 2016 Olympic team—the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials take place in Eugene, Oregon, in early July. We’ll put it this way: if you tune in to see the women’s 800m qualifying events, you’ll have no problem spotting Maggie!
8. Darya Klishina
Darya Klishina is a tall drink of water. If you imagine the female version of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, except 10 times prettier, you’ll come to some imagining of Darya. The 25-year-old Russian is a Long Jump specialist for her native country, and she has a host of top three finishes in international competition. If you were to do a quick Google search for her, you’d be led to believe that she is a model, and only a model. Hardly. She stands head and shoulders above her competition. Literally. At 5’11”, Darya has jumped over 23 feet on a few occasions, and is likely one great performance away from busting a personal record and finding herself on the Olympic medal stand. And like the rest of the women on this list, her athletic prowess is very easy on the eyes.
7. Melanie Adams
Melanie Adams is a bit of a stretch for the list, because she’s officially retired from competitive action. There is, however, always the possibility she catches the bug during the Olympic year and gives it a go for her native Australia. Melanie was a pole vaulter for home country and competed in the 2012 Olympics, but has since stepped away from the grueling training schedule of international competition to begin her own fitness brand. That’s right—Melanie wasn’t about to step away from a life dedicated to strength and fitness. The bummer of her retirement is that the women’s international track and field community has lost one heck of a competitor. Oh, and…well…she was a true Australian beauty. For what it’s worth, she still is.
6. Louise Hazel
Louise Hazel is a British beast. And by British beast, we mean she’s a heptathlete. She is one of those badass women who does seven events over the course of two days in order to accumulate competitive points to determine the “World’s Greatest Athlete.” Louise has competed at a high level for nearly 10 years, and at 30 years old she has put the heptathlon aside to focus on training for other events. She could still be considered one of the top female heptathletes able to compete for the UK in the 2016 Rio Games, but we’re not entirely sure what she’ll settle on, or if she’ll qualify for the UK Olympic team, but she has never been one to be doubted. Whatever the case, we’re really just hoping Louise offers a training video so we might all have abs like hers.
5. Lolo Jones
Lori “Lolo” Jones is a lightning rod. A storied American track athlete who has run with, and beaten, the world’s best, she has yet to taste victory on the world’s largest stage: the Olympics. In fact, Lolo has never finished on the medal stand at the Olympics, and that includes her 2014 Winter Olympics stint on the U.S. Women’s Bobsled Team. At 33, Lolo is proving that there is something to her clean living lifestyle, as she’s still running some of her top times in the 100m hurdles. It’ll be really interesting to see where she lands in the 2016 mix, and let’s hope she scores that elusive medal—maybe even a gold.
4. Allyson Felix
Allyson Felix is at the top of her game, and she has never looked better. Allyson has four Olympic gold medals and a couple of silver medals, but she’ll look to score that coveted 200m/400m double gold in the 2016 Rio Games. Allyson specializes in the 200m and 400m races, but also competes in the 100m, and is used on several of the prestigious United States relay teams. Allyson is one of those women who could stop traffic with her smile, then outrun the traffic to the next destination. Allyson struck double gold in the 200m and 400m at the 2015 Track and Field World Championships, and if she stays healthy through the 2016 tuneup season, she’ll be the favorite going into Rio in August. If she seals the deal, and scores more golds with the relay teams, expect her on your Wheaties box by Christmas.
3. Sara Galimberti
Sara Galimberti is still making a name for herself in the realm of track and field competition. At 24 years old, she hasn’t begun to peak as a distance runner, and thus…we’re happy she’s so gorgeous, or we might not be able to follow her career. For Sara, her looks combined with her talent have helped to separate her from some more seasoned runners, and allowed for opportunities at sponsorship. Those opportunities are crucial to actually enjoying a career in track, and not simply defaulting to other offers like modeling. Yeah, it’s a rough life for Sara. Will we see her in the Olympics? Tough to say. If she makes the Italian team, they’ll likely feature her in the parade of nations, but she’ll have her work cut out for her versus the world’s most elite distance running competition.
2. Allison Stokke
Allison Stokke is a U.S. pole vaulter who has a great shot at making the United States Olympic Team in 2016. The 26-year-old California native stayed in state to compete for the state during her collegiate career, where she impressed the world. Allison is an interesting case, because she was one of the first “Woah, have you seen how hot this track and field girl is?” in the internet age. It was promptly argued that people should be more concerned about her performance on the track than her aesthetic beauty. And we completely agree. Hopefully Allison knows that she’s also inspiring “pretty” young girls who are often told they should “model” or “be an actress” instead of play sports.
1. Leryn Franco
There are multiple reasons why Leryn Franco sits at number one on this list. Any subsequent list, and she’d likely be omitted—she has officially given up track and field to be photographed, and strut on various runways. Leryn was a former Olympian who could kill you with a spear. She tossed the javelin for Paraguay and competed in the 2004 Athens Games, 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games. Her talent on the track was elite when compared to the other 6.99 billion people on planet earth, but she couldn’t bust the glass ceiling that prevented her from being one of the best of the best. A lot of it may have been due to her ridiculously beautiful looks, and the modeling offers that wouldn’t stop coming in. Ultimately, she enjoyed quite a journey in both professions, and presently works for Club Sol de América.