Nzingha Prescod

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Star Olympians continue to highlight ESPN’s Body Issue

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ESPN the Magazine announced Tuesday a roster of 19 athletes for this year’s Body Issue, and 10 are Olympians. That’s the most Olympic athletes since 2012.

The list likely will grow to 11 with the coming announcement of the U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team, as World Cup veteran Christen Press will appear in the magazine. Paratriathlete Allysa Seely is also on ESPN’s roster, and she is set to make her Paralympic debut as her sport is included in the Games for the first time.

The Body Issue will appear online July 6 and hit newsstands two days later. It will be highlighted by basketball star Dwyane Wade, who competed in the 2004 and 2008 Games. He’d been asked to pose for the issue before, but finally agreed after seven years.

“It’s bigger than me showing my body off,” Wade said. “That’s not as important to me as telling a story of overcoming a fear. It hopefully gives someone confidence to really be their authentic self.”

Also from the basketball court will be Elena Delle Donne, who will make her Olympic debut in Rio this summer. Wrestler Adeline Gray will also appear in the magazine before making her Olympic debut.

Baseball will be represented by Jake Arrieta, who pitched and won bronze for Team USA at the 2008 Beijing Games, the sport’s last appearance in the Olympics.

Other current Olympians appearing in the Body Issue will be swimmer Nathan Adrian (three-time medalist from 2008 and ’12 Games), steeplechase runner Emma Coburn (2012 Olympics), fencer Nzingha Prescod (2012 Olympics), beach volleyball player April Ross (silver medalist in 2012), and boxer Claressa Shields (gold medalist in 2012).

Retired diver Greg Louganis will also appear as the issue’s oldest athlete. The 56-year-old won a silver medal in 1976, and then two gold medals at each of the 1984 and ’88 Olympics.

MORE: Olympians in 2015 Body Issue | 2014 Body Issue | 2013 Body Issue

Three more U.S. fencers qualify for Rio Olympics

Miles Chamley-Watson
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Foil fencers Miles Chamley-WatsonLee Kiefer and Nzingha Prescod qualified for their second Olympic teams over the weekend.

The U.S. Olympic team across all sports is now up to 47 qualified athletes.

Chamley-Watson, a former world No. 2 and the only U.S. man to earn a World or Olympic title (2013 Worlds) in any fencing event, joins world No. 1 Alexander Massialas and world No. 3 Gerek Meinhardt on the U.S. Olympic men’s foil team.

All three will compete individually and in the team event in Rio.

A fourth American, world No. 4 Race Imboden, will serve as a replacement athlete for the team event but is not on the official U.S. Olympic team until he competes in Rio, should he be used.

Chamley-Watson is ranked No. 10 in the world but beat out Imboden in U.S. Fencing points standings for Olympic qualification.

In 2012, Chamley-Watson, Imboden and Massialas competed individually at the Olympics, with none getting past the round of 16. Those three and Meinhardt also finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic team event. The U.S. last earned an Olympic men’s foil medal in 1960.

On the women’s side, Kiefer and Prescod also clinched their second Olympic berths over the weekend. There is no women’s foil team event at the Rio Olympics, so Kiefer and Prescod will not be joined by any more U.S. women’s foil fencers.

Kiefer is ranked No. 4 in the world. Prescod is No. 10.

At the 2015 World Championships, Prescod lost in the semifinals, receiving a bronze medal, and Kiefer fell in the quarterfinals.

The U.S. has once earned an Olympic women’s foil medal, a silver in the Beijing 2008 team event.

MORE: U.S. fencer to make history for Muslim-Americans

U.S. fencing wins its most medals ever at a World Championships

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The U.S. fencing team won five medals at the World Championships last week, its most ever at a single Worlds, which could portend similar success at the Rio Olympics.

Alexander Massialas (silver, foil), Daryl Homer (silver, sabre), Gerek Meinhardt (foil, bronze) and Nzingha Prescod (foil, bronze) earned individual medals. The women’s sabre team also captured bronze.

The previous U.S. best for Worlds medals came in 2006, when Rebecca WardMariel Zagunis and Sada Jacobson earned gold, silver and bronze in the individual sabre and were part of the silver-medal-winning sabre team.

In 2008, the U.S. Olympic fencing team took home six medals, including a women’s sabre medals sweep. In 2012, the tally was one bronze medal.

The U.S. fencing team earned the five medals in Moscow last week despite its biggest star, the two-time Olympic champion Zagunis, being upset in the round of 16, her lowest Worlds finish in 10 years.

More medals are awarded at Worlds than at the Olympics. At Worlds, the program includes 12 events with individual event bronze medals given to both semifinal losers.

At the Olympics, the program includes 10 events with semifinal losers facing off for one bronze medal. The 2016 Olympic program does not include men’s team sabre or women’s team foil.

U.S. fencers could be boosted by the Olympics taking place in Brazil, which is closer to the U.S. than it is to the fencing world powers in Europe and Asia (Russia won nine medals at Worlds; Italy five).

The four U.S. fencers who won individual medals last week are all 2012 Olympians who are 25 years or younger.

Another American, Race Imboden, is ranked No. 1 in the world in men’s foil. American Miles Chamley-Watson won the 2013 World title in that event. Both Imboden and Chamley-Watson are 2012 Olympians and age 25 or younger.

There’s also women’s foil fencer Lee Kiefer, a 21-year-old 2012 Olympian, who is ranked No. 4 in the world.

At the London Olympics, in only two sports did the U.S. have more than four different individual medal winners (track and field and swimming). The No. 3 sport for overall U.S. medals was gymnastics with six.

Fencing may prove a very valuable sport for the U.S. as it looks to top the overall medal table for a sixth straight Olympics.

Nathan Schrimsher is first athlete to qualify for 2016 U.S. Olympic team