Asia’s 30 sexiest athletes
Powerful. Agile. Graceful. Strong. You’d think it hardly needs repeating, but there’s another word to describe Asia’s incredible roster of sports pros that often gets left in the dust: Sexy. Beyond their undoubted talent, these athletes deserve some recognition for their stunning physiques and beautiful features. After all, if you're going to play like a champion you may as well look good doing it.
In no particular order...
1. Cho Jae Jin (Soccer / Korea)
2. Yuto Nagatomo (Soccer / Japan)
At five feet and seven inches, Yuto Nagatomo might not be the biggest guy around -- but boy, is he a wonder. While Yuto didn’t catch the eye of any scouts during his high school days, he’s gone on to make his mark in the football world. Word has it Italy’s Bologna are on his heels -- watch out for this rising athlete at the World Cup.
3. Mikaele Pesmino (Rugby / Samoa)
It can’t be easy to stand out among a sea of brawny rugby men, but if someone’s got to do it, then Mikaele Pesmino is the very attractive man for the job. A powerhouse of speed and strength, he’s a true crowd pleaser who scores often.
4. Wang Liqin (Table Tennis / China)
Just ask the Chinese -- ping pong players are a force to be reckoned with. Especially when you’re talking about Wang Liqin, their table tennis hero who joined the Chinese men’s national squad when he was just 15… though chances are he didn’t look half as good then as he does now. Shirtless matches are a totally real possibility, right?
5. Shinji Ono (Soccer / Japan)
Shinji Ono plays midfielder for Shimizu S-Pulse in Japan. An all-round strong player, he’s widely recognized for his technique, superb passing abilities, and most importantly -- in this case, at least -- his boyish charm. Though he’s just passed the big 3-0 landmark, he continues to score big-time… especially with the ladies.
6. Tom McQueen (Rugby / Hong Kong)
It’s impossible not to be charmed by Hong Kong Sevens’ rugby team member Tom McQueen: He’s kind of the package deal with his athletic build, boyish appeal, and sexy accent. He’s an absolute riot to boot: Check out the hilarious YouTube music video the rugby star produced with a handful of friends.
7. Lin Dan (Badminton / China)
Hailed as the greatest player of his generation, “Super Dan” is the bad boy of badminton, with a passionate temperament that shows through both in and out of the game. His well-built physique and ties to China’s badminton sweetheart, Xie Xingfang, only make him all the more desirable.
8. Josateki Vekune (Rugby / Tonga)
Tonga’s other athletic teams may get overlooked on the international scene, but their brilliant rugby team certainly doesn't, and nor do the rugged good looks of the sexy Josateki. Should he ever, God forbid, decide to quit the sport, there’s already a backup career waiting for him to parade around in Calvin Klein boxer-briefs. Someone get the man a modeling contract already!
9. Patrick Lam (Jockey/ Hong Kong)
Dashingly handsome and even more so when atop his horse, viewers can almost always expect Hong Kong’s skillful jockey, Patrick Lam, to deliver a flawless performance. It’s an exhilarating sport to watch regardless of the participants, but the dreamy equestrian makes it all the more worthwhile.
10. Liu Xiang (Hurdler/ China)
A 2008 Beijing favorite, Liu Xiang is easily one of China’s most beloved athletes. A legion of fans weeps whether the hurdler wins or loses. His successes in track and field are near-Herculean, especially for a man of Chinese physiology, as he himself declares -- credit must be given where credit’s due to those shapely muscles.
11. Rio Haryanto (Driving / Indonesia)
Here’s one for those who love a man in racing uniform: A youngster at just 17, Indonesia’s baby-faced driver Rio Haryanto already boasts an impressive track record. Despite his young age, he’s already garnered the adoration of plenty. (What’s that? He has a website? With a 21-page photo gallery?)
12. Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Cricket / India)
An entire country holds its breath every time this man walks to the crease -- a revered captain and one of the most famed Indian cricket players, the talented and hunky Mahendra has the kind of mischievous smile that can charm millions. The kind of man that both mothers and daughters can obsess over, Mahendra has an enviable fan base with an understandably disproportionate number of females.
13. Yu Darvish (Baseball / Japan)
At just 23 years of age, Yu is easily one of the best pitchers in Japanese professional baseball -- as well as one of the most attractive. With a half Persian, half Japanese background, the starting pitcher also has a humanitarian fund dedicated to putting water pumps in developing countries. Who says altruism can’t be sexy?
14. Park Chu-Young (Soccer / Korea)
A football player for both AS Monaco and the Korean national team, Park Yu-Young’s popularity soared when he lead his team to a record-breaking 11th title in 2004. He is impressively agile and speedy on the field. Chosen to be a PR model for the National Election Commission, he’s a favorite among young people. Why wouldn’t you want this man to be blown up on a poster?
15. Yuvraj Singh (Cricket / India)
Son to a former fast bowler and Punjabi movie star, Yuvraj was clearly blessed in more than one department. With frequent tabloid appearances alongside his latest ravishing girlfriend and declarations of love littering his Facebook fan page, Yuvraj remains as desirable as ever. His upcoming animated film, "Captain India", is further testament to his cult following.
1. Yu-Na Kim (Figure Skating / Korea)
Also known as the ever-elegant “Ice Queen,” Yu-na took the spotlight after her recent Winter Olympics win. Donning a sparkly royal blue number, she showed off her svelte figure in a world record-setting performance. It’s easy to see why she was an instant media darling: Brilliant athleticism aside, her infectious smile won the world over in a heartbeat.
2. Tania Sachdev (Chess / India)
The eighth Indian Woman Grandmaster, Tania Sachdev carries herself like a woman who knows she’s both brainy and beautiful. For a game that requires intense concentration, the pouty-lipped, dark-haired stunner is undoubtedly a major distraction.
3. Xue Chen (Beach Volleyball / China)
Beach volleyball is a sport that’s teeming with examples of bodily perfection, but Chen remains drool-worthy: Despite eastern pale skin ideals, she rocks the tan and has abs and buns worthy of any magazine cover. At over six feet tall, the 21-year-old “Ice Beauty” of China isn’t someone to mess with.
4. Mari Motohashi (Curling / Japan)
Curling came back onto the scene this past Olympics and with it came Mari Motohashi (right), who’s every bit as adorable as her alliterative name. Viewers may not exactly have stuck around for the thrill of the er, high-speed sport -- but the bright-eyed curler certainly kept everyone from changing the channel.
5. Kaoru Sagayama (Beach Volleyball / Japan)
The sexy Japanese volleyball player landed on the scene as a brilliant offensive and defensive player, quickly becoming a crowd favorite with the help of her radiant beauty. Often called “White Fairy” and “Princess Kaoru,” Koaoru left professional volleyball in 2008 -- only to return the year later much to the gratification of those who salivate over her rock-solid bod.
6. Sania Mirza (Tennis / India)
If America has Ana Kournikova, then India has Sania Mirza The beloved tennis star is the highest ranked female player in the country -- and that’s not even factoring in her Bollywood-star good looks. Much to the chagrin of many a devoted fan, her recent nuptials to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik have taken her off the market -- but chances are slim their days of ogling are over.
7. Xie Xingfang (Badminton / China)
This toned and leggy sports hero is the Beyonce of Chinese badminton. After all, there’s nothing like dating another esteemed athlete to catapult you into power-couple superstardom: Not that Xingfang’s coupling with the aforementioned “Super Dan” has anything to do with her innate beauty and high-speed smashes.
8. Miwa Asao (Beach Volleyball / Japan)
Dubbed the “pixie of beach volleyball,” Miwa Asao is a beloved media personality and athlete who can be credited for launching the sport into popularity in Japan. It’d be wrong to overlook her athletic prowess -- she’s a joy to watch on the sand, whether in a bikini or not. But it’s safe to say the crowd prefers the former.
9. Zheng Jie (Tennis / China)
It seems contradictory to call the toughest tennis star China’s seen in years “cute,” but she is what she is. Affectionately referred to as “Zhingy” and “Little Jie,” Zheng Jie, the world's no. 21 female singles player, has captivated thousands with the face of an angel.
10. Nicol David (Squash / Malaysia)
Nicol David’s the national treasure of Malaysia. A mix of Chinese and Indian, the Penang-born player is the first Asian to achieve the no. 1 rank in the world in women’s squash. For a country that doesn’t get to celebrate as many athletic wins as most, Nicol is their venerated megastar. Her toothy grin and slender body make her an instantly loved sports hero.
11. Lai Ying Tzu (Gymnast / Taiwan)
Taiwanese rhythmic gymnast Lai Ying-Tzu may not have medaled in this past World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships, but she was nevertheless quite the belle of the ball. Jaws definitely drop whenever Ying-Tzu takes the floor: In addition to her sweet facial features, the things that girl can do with her body are extraordinary.
12. Guo JingJing (Diving / China)
The most decorated female diver of all time, China’s Guo JingJing has captured worldwide attention in the past couple of years. With a naturally gorgeous face and the personality of a star, JingJing’s also racked up a string of endorsements that have gotten her in hot water in the past. Though she was expected to retire in 2008, the 30-year-old says she’ll be back to make her final splash.
13. Mao Asada (Figure Skating / Japan)
Mao Asada may have taken second place in the Olympics, but she’s every bit as publicly endeared as Yuna is in her home country. The queen of incredible triple-axel jumps, the doll-faced Japanese athlete is a media and fan favorite -- along with her sister and her gang of puppies.
14. Dipika Pallikal (Squash / India)
Dipika Pallikal may just have turned 18, but the powerful squash player has already developed an adoring fan base since she first emerged as an international contender in her sixth grade. She’s a mesmerizing player, both for her ferocity on the court and her model-pretty looks.
15. Hee Kyung Seo (Golf / Korea)
Introducing the “Supermodel of the Fairways”: a quickly rising star, Hee Kyung Seo has putted her way to fame and fandom for both her gorgeous face and seemingly effortless skill. Kyung Seo first arrived on the green to little fanfare, overshadowed by competitor Ji Yai Shin’s streak of achievements. But Korea is starting to take note of this winning athlete -- the rest of the world is sure to follow suit.