Athletes are the perfect fit for a sex-mad media

Hot bodies will be as sought-after as gold medals this summer, as Tim Walker reports

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The Independent Online

On Monday morning, Jessica Ennis graced the covers of no fewer than five national newspapers, including this one.

Over the weekend, she won a heptathlon in Austria, breaking the British points record set by Denise Lewis, and positioning herself at the front of the pack for a gold medal at the London Olympics in July.

Breaking records may be an uncommon occurrence for Ennis, but appearing on the front pages of national newspapers is not. Papers will use any excuse to feature her. She's also the face of advertisers such as Aviva, Powerade, BP, Adidas, Omega and Olay Essentials. She may be a gold medal contender, but it doesn't hurt that she's fit – and not just in the cardiovascular sense.

London 2012, more than any previous Olympic Games, is being sold to us with sex.

Take diver Tom Daley who, reports Grazia in its weekly "Chart of Lust", just turned 18. The Justin Bieber of the diving board appeared semi-naked in The Sunday Times Style supplement at the weekend, alongside an interview which described him as a "Hunk in Trunks". Another paper profiled British boxer Anthony Ogogo last week, with an image of his rippling torso and the headline quote: "It's not true what they say about sex before a big fight."

Britain's canoeing team won three medals at the Beijing games. An unscientific search for mentions of Olympic canoeing in the UK media this year yields 173 hits.

Olympic beach volleyball produces 340 hits – even though the British team hasn't competed since 1996 and hasn't much hope of winning here. Nonetheless, the GB women's beach volleyball team took up plenty of column inches when they played on Parliament Square to help launch Transport for London's "2012 Games 'Temporary Road Changes' planning tool." Why not the badminton team? Because they wouldn't stop traffic.

In the United States, the media is excited about devout Christian hurdler Lolo Jones, 29, who is not only attractive, but also preserving her virginity until marriage.

"I've had guys tell me, 'If you have sex, it'll help you run faster'," she recently revealed.

The cover of US Vogue's Olympic edition features swimmer Ryan Lochte, tennis champ Serena Williams and goalkeeper Hope Solo. Are they exhibiting sporting prowess?

No, they're strolling on a beach in fancy swimwear.

Athletes are in their physical prime, so it's little wonder they've washboard stomachs and perfect skin. Stories of promiscuity in the Olympic villages are plausible.

And for the press, the Games provide a rare and irrefutable reason to publish pictures of attractive men and women with very few clothes on: underwear is, after all, professional attire for Ennis, Daley, Jones and beach volleyball players.

But as the Games begin, spare a thought for those sportspeople who don't also look like supermodels.

We shan't publish their pictures. It wouldn't be fair.

So here are some hotties instead.