Missy Deyo: The Ultimate Sports Babe

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In the world of sports journalism, many women still struggle to be seen as relevant. While there are prominent figures such as Erin Andrews (Fox Sports) and Christine Simpson (Rogers Sports net), others are also trying to make their mark. One such lady is Toronto resident Missy Deyo.

As the founder of the website Sportsbabe of the Day, the ambitious scribe is looking to bring a fun and playful aspect to sports, while trying to peel the onion as to what makes both male and female athletes tick. Some of the athletes that have been featured on Sportsbabe of the Day include women’s ice hockey hero Tessa Bonhomme and softball pitcher Danielle Lawrie.

Conceived at a Detroit Tigers vs. Baltimore Orioles contest, SBOTD was the result of Deyo and friends talking about some of the more attractive people of the game. Since then, SBOTD has become a hot spot for alternative sports banter, while evolving along the way. Starting with a feature on JP Arencibia, the Toronto Blue Jays catcher, Deyo has included interviews with featured athletes. In addition, she has created a forum where fans truly feel a sense of ownership. Not only do fans suggest what kind of athletes should be featured, but there is also a Hot Fan of the Week, a tribute to their own hotness.

What Anna Wintour did for fashion with Vogue Magazine, what Helen Gurley-Brown did for women’s lifestyles with Cosmopolitan, Deyo is looking to have similar influence with SBOTD. Not only has she created a great community for fans to belong to, but she has given female sports fans a place where they can share their love of the game in a respectful forum.

Upon first glance, her model like looks would provide the impression that she would look more comfortable on the runway of a fashion show, or in the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Rather than elicit the reaction of being comfortable on the soccer pitch or the frozen perimeter of the hockey rink, Deyo’s ascent to sports journalism extols all the qualities of determination.

The one aspect that makes Deyo’s story so compelling has been her perseverance and stoic dignity in attempting to overcome chronic kidney ailments. While her struggle with illness has led to multiple surgeries (the most recent being in August 2012), Deyo has a tough as nails mentality that is just as impressive as any linebacker in the National Football League.

Similar to Clara Hughes talking publicly (and bravely) about her battles with depression, Deyo has utilized the same approach to discussing her kidney ailments without fear. A few weeks before her 25th birthday, Deyo found herself hospitalized. When the milestone 25th came, instead of a pity party, she had a memorable party in Toronto.

Her enthusiasm is a great aspect in all the success she has experienced. Deyo is the embodiment of Yogi Berra’s timeless phrase, It Ain’t Over till it’s over. Like Mario Lemieux battling back from Hodgkin’s disease, or Frank Reich’s miraculous comeback at Rich Stadium in the greatest comeback in NFL playoff history, Deyo has the resiliency to come back from illness and write her own jubilant and miraculous victory.

The world catches up to Christine Sinclair

In a rivalry that may mirror the visceral Canadian-American rivalry that has defined the world of women’s ice hockey for several generations, the semi-final of the London 2012 Games set the stage for what may be the turning point in Canadian women’s soccer. With the lead having changed hands four times, the US (led by Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan) came back from a 3-2 deficit to prevail by a controversial 4-3 tally.

Contested in Manchester, England, home to some of the greatest soccer matches played in history, the ladies of Canada and the United States ensured that the fans would bear witness to some outstanding women’s soccer. Despite the 4-3 loss to the United States, Sinclair gave one of the greatest performances in Summer Games soccer, in what may have been one of the most exciting and entertaining matches in women’s history. The all-time leader in goals scored for the Canadian national squad, Sinclair scored a hat trick against Hope Solo. It was the first time Solo allowed more than two goals in the London Summer Games. Said hat trick was among six goals scored in overall play at the Games.

Despite the heartbreaking loss: two themes in the game were evidently clear: despite their number one ranking, the United States were humbled, and Christine Sinclair is truly one of the world’s elite soccer players. If the world did not know how great a star she was, the August 6 contest was her coming out party.

The bronze medal game against France was another example of Sinclair displaying the essence of leadership. While she did not score the game winning goal, her presence made all the difference as Diane Matheson scored the goal that helped Canada clinch the historic bronze medal.  It was Canada’s first medal in a team sport at the Summer Games since 1936, when the Canadian men’s basketball squad claimed a silver medal. Sinclair has conducted her game with a quiet dignity that would have made legends like Pele and Maradona proud.

The native of Burnaby, British Columbia, she is a seven-time recipient of the Canada Soccer Player of the Year award, while a five time nominee for FIFA World Player of the Year. Her uncles, Bruce and Brian Gant played in the North American Soccer League. A two-time champion in WPS (once with FC Gold Pride and the second with the Western New York Flash), Brazilian superstar Marta played with her on both championship teams. With the Flash, Sinclair led the WPS in goals scored, and was named MVP of the Final.

A legend at the University of Portland, she scored 23 goals as a freshman, while being named All-American. In 2002, the sophomore led the NCAA with 26 goals, and scored the goal to give Portland the national championship. The Globe and Mail named her one of the 25 most influential people in Canadian sports. The final game of her career with Portland resulted in two goals scored during a 4-0 defeat of UCLA in the national title game. A two-time winner of the Hermann Trophy, the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy in NCAA soccer, she became the third soccer player to win the Honda-Broderick Cup (awarded to the College Woman of the Year).

Although Sinclair will have other opportunities at Summer Games gold, and at the World Cup (being hosted by Canada in 2015), there is no question that should those goals go unachieved, Sinclair will always be a Canadian sporting legend. As Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain were two of the first legends in United States women’s soccer, Sinclair has cemented her legacy as the first Canadian soccer superstar.

Carli Lloyd plays the game of her life

Following in the footsteps of legends like Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, and Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd scored the two biggest goals of her career. In what was the game of her life, the 30 year old from New Jersey logged a goal in each half, as the US climbed to a 2-0 lead over Japan at Wembley Stadium. Despite a late goal by Japan, the US would clinch the gold medal at the 2012 London Summer Games.

This would not mark the first time that Lloyd would score big goals in Summer Games play. At the 2008 Beijing Games, she scored the game winning goal in a 1-0 victory against Japan. She would notch the gold medal winning goal in overtime versus Brazil. She would be named the US Women’s Soccer Player of the Year for 2008. While playing in the shadows of more popular players such as Alex Morgan and Hope Solo, she has quietly built a world class career that would be the envy of players worldwide.

With the tension of having lost the 2011 World Cup to Japan, Lloyd and her teammates faced tremendous pressure. The eighth minute of the 2012 Gold Medal match resulted in Lloyd’s first goal, a header off a pass from Alex Morgan that was meant for Abby Wambach. Before halftime, Lloyd nearly scored again but the Japanese goalkeeper Fukumoto made an impressive save to deny Lloyd. With nine minutes gone in the second half, Lloyd ran approximately 30 yards before launching a shot that resulted in the second score of the game.

Despite strong performances by Japanese players Saki Kumagai, Yuki Ogimi and Aya Miyama, a repeat of their championship performance at the 2011 FIFA World Cup was not meant to be. For Lloyd, the road to victory at London 2012 was marked by other goals.

At the Summer Games Qualifying tournament in Vancouver, British Columbia, Lloyd made her presence felt. In a Group B Match versus Mexico, the US bested them by a 4-0 tally, marked by Lloyd’s first career hat trick. In addition, she was named player of the match. For Lloyd, the honours would not end there. With a 3-0 defeat of Costa Rica in the semi-final of the Qualifying Tournament, Lloyd was named player of the match once more. She would finish with six goals (tied for the team lead) and three helpers, as the US went undefeated.

For Lloyd, her time in the spotlight was long overdue. The former Rutgers Scarlet Knights soccer star (named 2001 Big East Rookie of the Year), has had 141 caps with 40 goals with the US women’s team. The year 2007 marked the dawn of Lloyd’s presence as a prime time player. She was the top scorer and most valuable player at the 2007 Algarve Cup. In addition, she played in the 2007 FIFA World Cup, a first for her. In starting three first round games, she would finish the World Cup third on the team in scoring, with nine tallies and three assists.

She competed for the Chicago Red Stars in the first season of Women’s Professional Soccer in 2009. Despite making 14 starts, she scored two goals and recorded an assist.  At the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup she scored her first ever goal in World Cup play during a 3-0 win versus Colombia. Lloyd also left her mark in one of the most dramatic and exciting World Cup games ever played. After fighting back from a 2-1 deficit to force overtime against Brazil, Lloyd had a penalty kick against the Brazilians, which would help the US advance to the semifinals. A harbinger of things to come, Lloyd would deliver the goods once again in a golden day of retribution.

Emilie Heymans makes it happen

As London 2012 set the stage for Michael Phelps to become the all-time medal winner in Summer Games history, and Kim Rhode became the first American to win a medal in five consecutive summer games, Canada made their own mark in Summer Games history. While Emilie Heymans did not medal in all three events that she was eligible in, the bronze medal she earned with Jennifer Abel in the women’s three-metre synchronized springboard event. The accomplishment enabled her to make Canadian sporting history. Heymans became the first Canadian to earn medals in four consecutive Summer Games.

Her mother is Marie-Paule Van Eyck, an athlete that represented Belgium at the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal. The native of Greenfield Park, Quebec, Heymans began her athletic career as a gymnast. At the age of 11, she turned to diving and earned her first medal at the Sydney Summer Games in 2000. With partner Anne Montminy, the two won a silver medal in the 10m synchronized diving event. Athens 2004 resulted in Heymans winning the bronze medal with Blythe Hartley in the same event as 2000.

Those performances were followed up by the biggest challenge in her career. At the 2008 Canadian Summer Games trials, Heymans was partnered with Marie-Eve Marleau in the platform synchro event. The two failed to qualify and Heymans competed on the solo platform. She would win the silver in the 10 meter individual event. Of note, she had the lead until the eventual gold medal champion won with final dive of the event.

The most remarkable element of her accomplishments is that she has won medals with three different partners. At the age of 30, the possibility of competing at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro is very much a reality. With Dara Torres having made multiple comebacks in her career (including a silver medal past the age of 40), Heymans has the physical attributes to be able to compete again. Although her long term goal is to enter the fashion trade, Heymans legacy is unprecedented.

While the Summer Games have provided many performances worthy of the Lou Marsh Award (such as Christine Sinclair’s hat trick against Hope Solo in an emotional 4-3 loss to the United States in soccer), there is no question that Heymans performance has cemented her legacy as one of Canada’s greatest athletes. Spots in the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and the Canada Sports Hall of Fame are waiting for her.

Serena Williams: simply the best

The 2012 London Summer Games have solidified Serena Williams’s legacy as the greatest tennis player ever. A world class athlete, sex symbol, and inspiration, she is to tennis what Tiger Woods is to golf, and Michael Jordan is to basketball. Ardent fans could not have asked for a better setting at the Gold Medal Game between Williams and Maria Sharapova. Possessing all the elements of a classic US vs. Russia rivalry, the stage was set for two of the most popular (and attractive) tennis players to compete for golden glory.

With the tennis competition of the 2012 London Summer Games being hosted at Wimbledon, it was a good omen for Williams. At the 2012 Wimbledon tennis competition, she won her fifth Wimbledon singles crown by defeating Agnieszka Radwanska. In doubles play, she teamed with her sister Venus and the sisters bested Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka to claim their fifth Wimbledon doubles title, respectively. 

At the Summer Games, her first opponent was a former World number one, Jelena Jankovic. It only took Williams 61 minutes to move on to her next opponent, Urszula Radwanska. A rematch of the 2010 Wimbledon final occurred in the third round as Williams battled Vera Zvonareva. Caroline Wozniacki, another former World number one challenged Williams in the quarterfinal and was bested by marks of 6-0, and 6-3. The semifinals saw Williams overcome Victoria Azarenka, the current World number one ranked player. Williams would beat her by compiling sixteen aces with wins of 6-1 and 6-2. Her win was complemented by a post-game celebratory dance. Outfitted in blue, the proud Williams burst into tears of joy upon having the medal adorned around her. The California native could not have her jubilant mood dampened by the American flag falling off during the playing of the star spangled banner.

Her opponent in the gold medal match, Maria Sharapova would be the fourth former world number one ranked player. In the first 45 minutes, Williams took nine matches before losing one to Sharapova. The defeat of Sharapova made Williams a career Golden Slam winner in Singles (having won all four Grand Slam events – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open, plus a gold medal in Summer Games play). Steffi Graf is the only other women’s player that can boast of such an accomplishment.

To signify the importance and relevance of Serena Williams as a global celebrity and key figure in popular culture, the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama was in attendance at one of her matches. Both ladies are key female figures in the American black history of the early 21st Century.

Despite cruising to a gold medal in singles play, there was another challenge that remained. Pairing with sister Venus Williams, the two wanted to win the gold for the second consecutive Summer Games. The final saw the sisters challenge Hlavackova and Hradecka of the Czech Republic in a rematch of the Wimbledon Final. With the victory, it would mark the third time overall (the first coming at Sydney 2000, and the second in Beijing during the 2008 Games) that the Williams sisters won the gold in doubles play. With her sister Venus having won the singles gold at Sydney 2000, it marked a rare happening in which sisters have claimed double gold at a Summer Games in tennis. With the gold in doubles play, Serena also earned a Golden Slam in Doubles. She is the first tennis player, male or female to accomplish the Golden Slam at both levels of play.

2012 ESPN Body Issue has Summer Games flair

In recent years, athletes such as Lindsey Vonn, Maria Sharapova and Danica Patrick have been considered among the most beautiful in the world. The ESPN 2012 Body Issue clearly shows that there may be some new athletes to consider for such an honor.

While the images still left something to the imagination, there is no question that the stunning, alluring beauty of these athletes forces fans to see them in a whole new light. Although every athlete (male and female) appears nude in the ESPN Body Issue, there is no question that these are highly conditioned athletes.

Although the fact that these athletes are portrayed nude would indicate a certain degree of vulnerability, their nudity is also empowering, and shows a unique strength and courage. It is not everyone who would have the courage to be featured nude and have their appearance potentially criticized. Several female athletes from the Body Issue are competing in the London Summer Games (Candice Parker, Abby Wambach, Daniela Hantuchova) and the Paralympic Games (Oksana Masters), while others have been in Summer Games past (Anna Tunicliffe).

Candace Parker is clearly one of the most talented basketball players in the world. Her photo and illuminating smile make a strong case that she is just as attractive as fellow WNBA superstar and rival,  Lauren Jackson. If the two ever played on together, that would truly give new meaning to the word Dream Team.

Superstar tennis player Daniela Hantuchova may not have won the gold medal at the 2012 London Summer Games but she may prove to be just as popular as Maria Sharapova with her photos. Mentored by tennis great Martina Navratolova, the native of Slovakia was defeated by Caroline Wozniacki in the Summer Games. Having also appeared in the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (one of the few athletes to have appeared in both publications), the classically trained pianist also appeared on one of six special edition covers for the Body Issue.

In following teammate Hope Solo, who appeared in the 2011 ESPN Body Issue, US soccer player Abby Wambach looks like a Greek god in her photo. Although Wambach is not a sex symbol like Solo, the Florida Gator Athletic Hall of Fame inductee who scored the gold medal winning goal at the 2004 Athens Games displays a physique that looks like it was carved from marble. Her photos show a quiet dignity to her, a strength and toughness  that is unmatched. One that can withstand the sucker punch that she endured at the hands of a Columbian player in a 3-0 victory at the 2012 Summer Games (in which she managed to score a goal). The second highest all-time goal scorer in the history of FIFA women’s soccer, her shoulders look strong enough to carry the expectation of USA Soccer on them.

Paralympic athlete Oksana Masters also appears in the publication. Despite her affliction, she proves that people with disabilities can also be beautiful. Born in the Ukraine, Masters was a double knee amputee due to birth deformities caused by radiation poisoning inuterio. Rowing since the age of 13, Masters is as inspiring as she is beautiful. In a society where people with disabilities fight for equality, there is also a sexual struggle that exists. A struggle that the Body Issue may help to overcome.

Former bronze medalist at Beijing, Ronda Rousey (featured on one of six collectible covers) is one of the top female athletes in Ultimate Fighting. While UFC is not everyone’s sport of choice, Rousey has proven that it is not just the ring girls of UFC (such as Arianny Celeste) that are the attractive females of the promotion. Having co-hosted on the syndicated television program TMZ, the top ranked fighter is quickly becoming a household name.

Despite their stunning beauty, these captivating images will augment discussion and debate among sports purists. Whether these images are art or filthy is not a topic to be discussed here, but the publicity (and controversy) has resulted in fans already clamoring to see which of their favourite athletes will be in the 2013 edition.