On Sunday, the Husband and I were watching Wimbledon.  Of course, we were cheering for Andy Murray, as a British man hasn’t won the event in 75 years.  Unfortunately, Andy lost.



Anyway, I finally figured out how tennis works (the scoring system is pretty confusing, if you ask me).  While watching the match, I realized the extent of Murray and Federer’s athletic conditioning.  Those two men were sprinting around the court, serving the ball at speeds of 130 MPH, and physically and mentally strategizing all at the same time. 


Fun facts about professional tennis:


  • The longest Wimbledon match ever was played during the first round of the 2010 event.  John Isner played against Nicolas Mahut for 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days.   (Source)
  • The fastest recorded men’s tennis serve was 164 MPH in the 2012 Busan Open.  Venus Williams served a 129 MPH ball at the 2007 US Open, the fastest serve for a woman.  (Source)


Watching the match prompted a discussion between the Husband and me about who we believe are the hardest working athletes.  We defined athleticism as both mental and physical.  The Husband voted that golfers were the hardest working athletes, as their game combines great physical technique with mental skill, including calculating distance, factoring in weather, considering slope and grass speed, etc.  I pointed out that some professional golfers are portly old guys with cigars.


So the Husband’s runner-up vote was for professional soccer players.  They are in such great cardiovascular shape and are so proficient with the ball.  Fun fact: professional soccer players run about 7 miles a game – but referees run nearly 12! (Source) It is pretty amazing to see those guys flip backwards and kick a ball into the net without even looking.  Or smack it with their forehead and sent it into the goal.  I would just get knocked out.




While I’m very impressed with professional swimmers, as so much of the sport comes down to holding the perfect form, I voted that professional triathletes were the hardest working athletes.  After all, triathletes master not one but three sports.  Heck, the current Kona Ironman record is a 50:33 2.4-mile swim, a 4:24:43 112-mile bike, and a 2:38:46 marathon.  The world record for the marathon in 2:03:38!  A triathlon doesn’t require the same mental game as golf but it does require great endurance, speed, agility, toughness, and technique. 




And yes – we realize it is pretty amusing that we both voted that our personal sports (golf and triathlons, respectively) were the hardest sports.  I’m not sure if you can count professional dance as a ‘sport’ per say (although I do think they are athletes) – if so, professional dancers are AMAZING.  I am always so in awe of the contestants on So You Think You Can Dance.


I like this question so much because I feel like it’s very subjective and interesting to discuss.  There is no one right answer.  So – what do you think?  Who are the hardest working athletes and why? 



  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat July 11, 2012, 10:12 am

    Great debate! I think I might have to agree with you on the triathletes thing. Soccer players, golfers and other athletes can focus on developing skills for just one sport, whereas triathletes have to spread their efforts and energy over all 3.. for extended periods of time in the case of an Iron Man. I’m on team Caitlin! 🙂

  • TiffanyS July 11, 2012, 10:13 am

    I think triathalons are extremely difficult mentally. I’ve only done one little local one, but my mind was trying to communicate to my body the whole time that yes I can do this. I swear after the bike ride my legs forgot how to work properly. I was spent afterwards. Plus, you have to watch for other athletes, traffice, holes in the road. Plus, worrying about fueling properly. I also think boxing or martial arts is extremely challenging mentally and physically. Trying to outthink your opponent, dodge their moves, and make your move. Great post to make you think!

  • Jack Sh*t July 11, 2012, 10:15 am

    How did I not make your list of hardest-working athletes? 50 minutes on the elliptical this morning! BOOYA!

  • Jill from First Comes Health July 11, 2012, 10:16 am

    CrossFit Games competitors! They don’t specialize in anything and excel in everything. Swimming, biking, running, weight lifting, gymnastics, etc. Each event is unknown until the time of competition so athletes have to prepare for anything and everything.
    You ought to give it look, Caitlin! Games.crossfit.com The competition starts today as a matter of fact. 😉

    • Lindsay Johnson July 11, 2012, 12:45 pm

      Agreed, CrossFitters are the hardest working athletes in my opinion as well. I own a CrossFit box in California and I see the hard work, sweat, skill, and determination on a daily basis. While I do believe Triathletes have incredible mental fortitude, I believe the most well rounded athletes tend to be CrossFitters.

  • Rachel July 11, 2012, 10:16 am

    I’m sorry but I think it is hilarious that your husband voted “golf” as the people who are the hardest working athletes. Mentally? Maybe. Physically? NO WAY.

    • Julie July 11, 2012, 3:03 pm

      I had the same reaction to his golf answer – WHAT??? 🙂

  • Carrie July 11, 2012, 10:17 am

    Decathlon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decathlon

    10 events for men, 7 for women, over two days.

    Can’t wait for the Olympics!

    • Hanne July 11, 2012, 10:38 am

      Second that 🙂

    • Sarah July 11, 2012, 1:15 pm

      I third that! The guy who just set the world record at the Oregon trials is technically considered the World’s Best Athlete since this event includes all possible types of athleticism.

  • Megan@ The Running Doc July 11, 2012, 10:17 am

    As a fellow gymnast, I of course would have to say that gymnasts are the hardest working athletes. 🙂 I mean have you seen how awesome their bodies are? Ha. But honestly, they compete on 4 unique events and while endurance in the sense of running for 90 minutes like in soccer does not come into play, a 90 sec floor exercise routine full of tumbling takes quite a bit of endurance. Gymnastics also requires strength, speed, agility, flexibility, and toughness. But of course, I’m totally biased. 🙂 I think my runner up would be triathletes because they have to be great at 3 different sports.

  • Ali @ Around the VeggieTable July 11, 2012, 10:18 am

    I was going to agree with the triathletes but I was also thinking about professional ballerinas or gymnasts!

  • Ashley July 11, 2012, 10:18 am

    I would have to say gymnasts or crossfit athletes and would also argue that Rugby is a more challenging/demanding sport than soccer.

    • Michaela July 11, 2012, 10:37 am

      I agree. To be a successful gymnast, you have to start very early. I had friends growing up who would practice 2+ hours a day, 6 days a week. They would keep this up from age 2 or 3 until their bodies gave in. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.

      • Kristee July 11, 2012, 12:45 pm

        Totally agree and vote for gymnastics! Very dedicated, hard workign sport (also biased as a former competitive gymnast and sister of a competitive coach), but the physical muscle endurance and mental strength required to do what they do is amazing.

  • Jordan @ Bake Write Sleep July 11, 2012, 10:19 am

    I agree on the triathalons. Mostly because not only is it physically challenging, but it’s also mentally stimulating. You have to coax yourself to finish. And that’s just crazytime to me. That takes crazy dedication.

  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat July 11, 2012, 10:24 am

    I might have to agree with your hubby – soccer players run their tails off! 🙂

  • Trisha July 11, 2012, 10:27 am

    I would have to say gymnasts. My decision may be swayed because I have been watching some of the Olympic qualifying rounds the past week or so, but gymnasts definitely have to be in tip-top shape in order to compete.

  • Anna D July 11, 2012, 10:29 am

    I definitely think professional dancers. To look that pretty while doing constantly moving? That’s tough. And mentally–especially with the current standard of “thin is in”–that can’t be easy to balance with the physical.
    And, sorry, but…golf? Golf is a good walk spoiled.

    • Melissa July 11, 2012, 1:54 pm

      I don’t really think dance is a sport, although if a dancer wants to define it that way, I wouldn’t begrudge that person his/her definition. Although dancing is extremely athletic, when all is said and done, it is an art. Think about it. If you’re going to see a sport, you’d usually go in jeans, eat some popcorn or nachos, yell and scream and cheer…if you were going to see dancers perform, you’d get dressed up, they’d maybe serve some wine in the lobby at intermission, but NO WAY are you getting up from your seat in the middle of the performance, purchasing a bag of popcorn, and eating it in the theater or concert hall! Clapping is encouraged at specific points in the performance, but certainly no whistling or yelling anything other than “Bravo/brava” etc. Dance is an art, not a sport.

  • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope July 11, 2012, 10:33 am

    Ironmen and women, and the CROSSFIT GAMES participants. Fo sho’!!!

  • Kim July 11, 2012, 10:34 am

    I don’t know who the hardest working athletes are, but I watch a lot of the Tour de France and am amazed they can ride a hundred miles day after day after day. I don’t think I could do what they do on their “rest day”.

    • Nikki @ only25hoursinaday July 11, 2012, 10:45 am

      Totally agree! They spend 3 nearly non-stop weeks riding their bikes THROUGH THE ALPS and Pyrenees!


      • Dukebdc July 11, 2012, 12:58 pm

        Ditto on the Tour de France bicyclists! Beyond the gut-wrenching physical and mental endurance it takes just to finish each stage upright, there is all the gamesmanship between and within teams. Every team member has a job–whether to lead the pack one day, “protect” the sprinter, pace the climber, or be the guy with the best chance to win overall.

        And does anyone remember last year when that TDF rider was bumped by a media car and flew into a barbed wire fence at 40mph? The guy got back on his bike, finished the race, and then got THIRTY-FOUR stiches to close the wounds. And rode another 4 hours the next day. That’s bleepin’ hardcore.

    • Claire July 11, 2012, 8:33 pm

      Yep, TDF is pretty hardcore – three weeks straight of extreme endurance, not sure many other sports require that amount of time! I so love watching it cause you get the mix of amazing athletes and french scenery. Although in Autralia the coverage is overnight, I am sooooo tired. Just imagine how sleep deprived I’ll be by the end of the olympics! Living in the sthn hemisphere is no good for watching international sport.

  • Amanda July 11, 2012, 10:39 am

    Golf…really. I agree though I think triathlons are probably really challenging mentally and physically. I haven’t done one so I can’t say personally but it is a goal. Gymnastics is also really difficult, only because of everything required technically of them so I think that’s up there as well.

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life July 11, 2012, 10:39 am

    Not sure about this… To pick one as the hardest working over another is so tough. All professional athletes work extremely hard at their craft because, well, their professionals! I do love what you said about dancers. I was a dancer since age 5 and continued on through college (not at a professional level in any way). It is above all considered an art form but you are right, they still demonstrate athletic ability and now it is becoming more competitive. The other sport I dabbled in was… Cheerleading. (don’t laugh!) It is also a sport that doesn’t get much recognition. It is highly competitive and to be able to tumble, lift girls, dance, etc for a solid 2-3 minute routine takes tremendous strength and endourance. I also coached competitive All-Star cheerleading for young girls and I was in awe of how athletic they are at such a young age. The days of ditsy bimbos in short skirts are a thing of the past! 🙂

    • Courtney @ Pursuit of Healthiness July 11, 2012, 11:01 am

      I totally agree with cheerleading. I used to be an All-Star cheerleader and our practices used to be more grueling than the football players! Throwing people in the air is no easy feat and is probably a sport that requires the most safety training. I used to play other sports in high school but cheerleading was far and away the hardest. I was also in the best shape when we were in season! Tumbling also takes a ton of training and safety measures. It’s a very mental game to get yourself to throw your body in those ways.

      • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life July 11, 2012, 11:47 am

        Way to go, Courtney! Didn’t you just love it! You are right about tumbling. And those football players have nothing on us! 😉

  • christa July 11, 2012, 10:42 am

    Ironman triathletes!! The distances of each sport individually are grueling, and then putting them altogether? Yeah.
    I think all athletes work really hard to perfect their sport or game though!

  • Nikki @ only25hoursinaday July 11, 2012, 10:44 am

    HANDS DOWN, without a doubt – PROFESSIONAL CYCLISTS!!! Look at the men competing in the Tour de France right now – they are embarking on about 2,500 miles of day-after-day, 100+ mile rides at break-neck speeds. Their bodies are completely trained and committed to the sport, and it is very dangerous to boot {have you seen all the crashes this year?!?!}. Most of the guys in the tour have already completed at least one other “Grand Tour,” and right after the Tour is over, they head to the olympics! AMAZING, amazing athletes. So much respect for them!

    Your hubs should be excited for it this year – last stage I saw {stage 7 – we’re DVR’ing and watching all stages in entirety, so it takes a while!}, Bradley Wiggins {a Brit!} was in the maillot jeune! If I remember right, no Brit has EVER won the tour!

    • Rachel July 11, 2012, 10:55 am

      Not to mention, cycling is incredibly taxing mentally. You are always analyzing the course, the terrain, the turn ahead, and the people riding around you; and you are always tactically considering the best time to make an attack, to sprint, to draft, to rejoin the peloton… bike racing is as much a mental workout as a physical one!

  • Kelly July 11, 2012, 10:47 am

    Oooh wht an interesting question. I think that several different sports focus on different things…like some are more cardio vascular (soccer, tennis, etc…) versus more weight bearing sport like football or wrestling. I think all athletes work equally hard but in just different avenues for their specific sports. To me it is like comparing apples to oranges and it is just impossible to determine who works harder.

  • PressureCookerDiaries July 11, 2012, 10:49 am

    For the mental aspect, I vote for professional chess players. They aren’t athletes in the traditional sense, but it is DEFINITELY a mental work out.

    For physical athletes I vote for extreme distance runners.

  • C July 11, 2012, 10:50 am

    Whilst you may not think it – what about Formula one drivers? They are supposed to be the fittest people on earth because they have to be able to withstand the huge G forces when racing. ANd when you look at them, they do actually appear to be ridiculously fit. Recently Jenson Button turned up for an event in Ireland and on a whim entered a marathon that was on that day. And came second.

    • Rachel July 11, 2012, 10:51 am


    • Cassie @ Back to Her Roots July 11, 2012, 11:02 am

      I second open-wheel drivers! Tony Kanaan (an IndyCar champion) frequently does full-length Ironman’s professionally!

    • Nikki @ only25hoursinaday July 11, 2012, 1:04 pm

      Agree on this one, too! Word on the street is that all Formula 1 (and Moto GP) racers use cycling as their main form of exercise.

  • Kyla July 11, 2012, 10:53 am

    Rowers! I rowed for a year in college but it rowing really is the ultimate team sport. If someone has a bad day, then the rest of the boat can have a bad day. The balance of the boat depends on the rowers effectively hitting each and every stroke together. You also have a coxswain guiding you so you have to listen to what they’re saying in addition to rowing.
    Rowing also works almost every muscle in your body, second to cross country skiing. It is a physically and emotionally demanding sport.

  • Laura July 11, 2012, 10:57 am

    Rowers, without a doubt. It is an insane endurance challenge that is basically an all out sprint, combined with a difficult to master technique that has to be performed in sync with the rest of your boat.

  • Dana July 11, 2012, 10:59 am

    I vote dancers. It’s incredibly physically demanding, but you can’t let anyone know that. You have to make it look easy and graceful. At least other athletes are allowed to look like they’re in pain, or grunt from effort.

  • Cassie @ Back to Her Roots July 11, 2012, 11:00 am

    This may sound totally ridiculous, but open-wheel race car drivers are really, really incredibly fit (stock car racers are a different story). Open-wheel cars don’t have power steering, the drivers are taking 4-5gs during every single lap and they are consistently running a heart rate of 160+ during 3-4 hour races. There are actually entire gym and training programs dedicated to making race car drivers as fit as they can be: http://www.pitfit.com/live/ And there are at least 4-5 IndyCar drivers that compete professionally in Ironmans during the off season!

    • Maggie July 11, 2012, 11:46 am

      This is really interesting. I had no idea! Thanks for sharing that.

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape July 11, 2012, 11:01 am

    I think I’d go with soccer, too. They always seem so fit!

  • Juls July 11, 2012, 11:02 am

    Ironman is crazy!!!!I’m going with a personal bias here too since I was a swimmer from age 5 and all through college but we used to have to swim 10 practices a week (a lot of doubles that were 5,000 yards in the morning and 8-9,000 at night) in addition to running,lifting, etc… What makes swimming hard and frustrating is you do all that work for a hope of a tenth/hundreth of a second gain. Its also annoying because you lose your top shape so easily with any time off. I also hated not being able to shave a good portion of the year.

  • Debbie July 11, 2012, 11:08 am

    I know it doesn’t seem like it, but competitive figure skaters are incredible athletes! They have to be superior athletes to complete amazing jumps, have great cardiovascular endurance to skate with speed, train in ballet to make it all look graceful and easy, not to mention doing it all while on a thin blade on the ice (so balance is key!) It’s also a mental game because you train for years and it all boils down to a 4 minute performance. I love that it’s sport and art at the same time!

  • Cynthia July 11, 2012, 11:11 am

    I gotta go with hockey! The season is seriously long and those players will play with broken jaws, broken bones, etc. They get very little time off and most of their off-season is spent preparing their bodies for the start of the next season.

  • Rae July 11, 2012, 11:12 am

    Gotta go with triathletes, but not the pros. I would argue that the AG athletes…the ones that complete the 140.6 in closer to 16 and 17 hours….are the hardest working. Can you imagine being on your feet for that long?

    Also, ultra runners. I dont care who you are, if you do badwater (135 mile run) you are the winner 😛

  • Moira July 11, 2012, 11:13 am

    De-lurking to say thanks for the dancer shout-out! While we don’t consider dance a sport but an art (it’s my profession, btw) we certainly are athletes! The injury rate in dance is second only to that of football!

  • Lindsay July 11, 2012, 11:15 am

    Swimming! What other sport do you have to go all out physically while simultaneously holding your breath?

    Equestrians run a close second in my book. Have you ever tried to control a 1,000 pound beast? My sister rides and she’s one of the strongest people I know by far! 🙂

  • Garrett July 11, 2012, 11:25 am

    Division 1 College Lacrosse, all of the running of soccer and all of the hitting of football.

  • Maggie July 11, 2012, 11:40 am

    I’ve always thought tennis was one of the hardest sports out there. It requires incredibly precision to keep the ball in the court; you have to be aware of the wind and other weather conditions; you’re going head-to-head against someone, which I always think is tougher mentally than being part of a larger team; there is so much sprinting and stopping repeated over and over; matches can last an hour or 11 hours so it’s difficult to prepare; and professional players must master playing on 4 completely different surfaces (hard courts, clay, grass, and indoor carpet) all of which, even if they’re technically the same surface, differ from tournament to tournament. Plus, for professionals, there’s virtually no off season.

    I agree about triathlons, mastering 3 completely different activities and doing them back to back is certainly a huge challenge. I’m going to go old school and throw out decathletes. I was watching them (on TV) at the Olympic Trials and that is truly a variety of activities that test all types of athletic prowess.

    • Maggie July 11, 2012, 11:43 am

      Another argument for tennis: the professional season spans 5 continents (they start in Australia, go to the Middle East, then North America, then South America, then Europe, than back to North America, then to Asia, then back to Europe. The jet lag is nuts!

  • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See July 11, 2012, 11:41 am

    I have so much respect for college athletes. It would be SO HARD to manage both school and athletics !

  • Sara July 11, 2012, 11:43 am

    After starting swim lessons in the ultimate goal of doing a Tri, I have gained a whole new respect for swimmers. It seems that if you take any athlete out of their specialty and placed them in another sport they would find it difficult. I am sure a soccer player would find designing and performing a winning national cheer routine taxing. And a gold winning weightlifter would probably find getting a birdie on the green quite the struggle.

    Every sport deserves respect, as does every athlete. With that said, the hardest working athlete and person I know is a mother.

  • Elisabeth July 11, 2012, 11:44 am

    I’ve always loved watching tennis (Wimbledone is my fav!) and I felt so bad for Andy Murray! Anyhow, I think tennis players, triathletes, decathletes, gymnasts and Tour de France cyclists are all pretty amazing. Really, most any athlete is pretty amazing to me! 😀

    • Elisabeth July 11, 2012, 11:45 am

      Wimbledon! (not Wimbledone)

  • Marie July 11, 2012, 11:46 am

    Haha, I feel like this could be an on-going debate as all athletes work so hard at their sport. I do love watching So You Think You Can Dance, though. They are so talented!.

  • Aimee July 11, 2012, 11:52 am

    Definitely rugby! Those guys (and girls) are crazy fit!

  • margo July 11, 2012, 12:05 pm

    i just spent a few weeks in australia and i would have to say rugby players are the winners! i saw somewhere that they average 10 miles per game! they are clearly strong and they don’t wear padding or helmets, which makes them pretty badass (or stupid, depending on who you ask). their sport is confusing but awesome so they get my vote.

    • Bron July 11, 2012, 6:02 pm

      I am totally voting for Rugby too! They have to run the length of a rugby field numerous times like Soccer players but they also have to take hard hits from tackles, scrums and then of course there is rucking (digging the spikes of your rugby boots into the skin of the player who has the ball on the ground). No padding or helmets but beautiful bodies (in the case of most of the All Blacks) in skin tight jerseys and short shorts. Check out this specimen.


      best. sport. ever.

      • Emma Kate August 3, 2012, 6:02 pm

        Sonny Bill is definitely a fine specimen! 😉 I am a proud Kiwi and watch rugby all the time. It’s our national sport so it’s hard to avoid. I do agree that they are strong, but I believe that triathletes and swimmers have a much more intense training programme. Just because they put their bodies on the line, or in other words, get bashed around on the field, that doesn’t make them the “hardest working”. I would hands down say that they are the “toughest” athletes but not the hardest working. My vote is for triathletes. Swimming, running and cycling…they do it all!

  • Vikki July 11, 2012, 12:16 pm

    I don’t think there is an answer to this question. All athletes work hard. They just might work harder at different things. Different sports require different skillsets and hours in the gym or on the field working on those skillsets is still hard work. Basketball is a sport that is pretty similar to soccer in that you run up and down the court pretty much for the entire game with the exception of half time. I remember hearing of players that would stay out of practice and spend another couple of hours just practicing their shots. Staying until they hit 100 in a row or something crazy like that. They’re working harder than the average basketball player.

    (Plus…Tennis is easy and fun. I probably logged thousands of hours of court time in high school.)

  • Laura @ She Eats Well July 11, 2012, 12:16 pm

    I am probably biased because I love ballet, but I think male and female professional ballet dancers. The strength involved…and what they put their bodies through. It’s ridiculous.

    But truly, all athletes require unique skills, depending on their sport.

    PS, PUMPED for the Olympics.

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles July 11, 2012, 12:25 pm

    This is a tough question! So many different answers floating through my head right now.

    If I only had to pick one, I’d pick rugby (from what I know of it anyways, never actually played the game). You have to be able to strategize (mental), you have to be in good shape for the running involved (cardiovascular health); you have to be able to tackle (strength). Of course, you have to be able to take a tackle too – I guess that just qualifies as overall toughness!

  • jo July 11, 2012, 12:30 pm

    Gymnasts are heroes in my book! They have to maintain PERFECT shape, practice for hours upon hours upon hours, give up their childhood and essentially live exclusively for the sport, and a bit of bad luck might still ruin their performance. They start as young as three, essentially moving to the school where they train, start their days by weighing themselves and deciding what they eat from there, risk major health issues, it’s really kind of heartbreaking to watch stories about them.

    Of course, I’m Romanian, so it’s not surprising that I chose this sport, similarly to how it’s not surprising that you chose your favourite ones.

  • Sonia the mexigarian July 11, 2012, 12:32 pm

    I spit out my water laughing about golf. I have to respectfully disagree with your husband on that 😉 that being said, I think each sport that demands not just the physicality of athleticism but the mental strength as well, and those who excel make them tough athletes. That is why I love the Olympics. You respect the athletes not only for their physical strength but their mental endurance to push themselves, to get through the moment or the long stretch of time by oneself like a marathoner. Tactics and strategizing aside, beating your own negative self doubt, makes you tough.

    If I had to choose, I would say a triathlete. Though all athletes make me gape in awe 😉

  • becca @ bellebottoms July 11, 2012, 12:50 pm

    Being a soccer player, I’d have to say soccer! It is grueling! But I think the sports like the winter decathlons, where they are shooting guns, snowshoeing, skiing, etc…those are crazy hard! they have to battle the elements, have endurance, and be able to have accuracy…wow!

  • Annette@FitnessPerks July 11, 2012, 12:51 pm

    Ooooh TOUGH question! I do think prof triathletes are hardworking. I don’t think that at ALL of golfers. Sorry 🙁

    I think gymnasts, dancers, triathletes, and track athletes are the ‘toughest.’ I am always in awe by these events. And it’s prob why I picked ’em. Hah 😉

  • BeagleGirl July 11, 2012, 12:55 pm

    Rowers! As a rower i believe this. Also my rowimg coach is going to be in the olympics (his second time) again this summer and ot is incredible what serious rowers put their bodies through!

  • Caroline July 11, 2012, 1:00 pm

    Gymnasts! I just read the book “Off Balance” about the 96 Olympian Dominique Moceanu and it definitely opened my eyes to the life of a young gymnast.

    I got really into Wimbledon this year. I’m surprised Venus holds the fastest serve – Serena is soo strong!

  • Dukebdc July 11, 2012, 1:09 pm

    Yeah, golf players, though talented and no doubt skilled through years of practice, don’t make my cut as hardest working athlete. John Daly was an overweight, alcholic, chain-smoker who happened to be able to hit a ball really far accurately. He was able to maintain most of his bad habits while still being successful.

    Babe Ruth was also an overweight alcoholic, and one of the best baseball players ever. Though baseball is my favorite sport, it requires skill, timing, and talent, but not so much physical stamina and conditioning as other sports.

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats July 11, 2012, 1:12 pm

    I’d also want to throw gymnists into that mix. Clearly it’s incredibly physically demanding, but it’s a huge mental game as well!

  • Marcy July 11, 2012, 1:16 pm

    The men’s tennis matches are way up there, often 5-plus hours of extreme mental and physical effort in the heat. But triathlons seem even more physically demanding. I think I will go with the Tour de France, though, a 3,000-mile bike race through the mountains that lasts for three weeks.

  • Michele July 11, 2012, 1:16 pm

    Equestrians! Not only does it require mental strength (seeing distances, correct pace, remembering courses, remembering all 22983983812 parts of your form, etc etc), but you’re also sitting on top of a 1,000-1,500 pound animal who has different moods/attitudes just like you, spooks at things like butterflies and plastic bags, can go from a perfect angel to a nightmare in half a second, and could really kill you anytime he wants!
    I think it requires the ultimate teamwork because in this sport, your teammate can’t talk back to you. You can’t formulate a plan and know that you’re both on the same page. Your teammate is an unpredictable animal that weighs 10 or 15 times what you weigh and you’ve got to manage both of your performances and show the judges the form and consistency they love to see. It is the best sport EVER!

  • Susanna July 11, 2012, 1:44 pm

    I think triathletes are incredibly hard-working, but, like you, I am a triathlete…It is hard to pick. However, I know one woman, who is competing in the xfit games this weekend, who works her butt off: http://www.jennylabaw.com/ Check out her video – she is amazing!!!!

  • Barbara July 11, 2012, 1:46 pm

    I’ve always thought that the professional cyclists who do the Tour de France and other events of that nature were the hardest working. I think that kind of cycling event needs as much mental strategy as physical training. (Triathaletes are certainly similar, but don’t need the mental strategy that multi-day races need)

  • Lisa July 11, 2012, 1:49 pm

    My vote is for the guys doing Tour de France! My boyfriend and I are watching it(he watches every second of it) and those hills are FREAKING CRAZY! It’s a mountain they are RACING up!

    Did you know there’s a group of women doing it too? I wrote about it here: http://www.110pounds.com/?p=32336

  • Amber K July 11, 2012, 1:52 pm

    I love everyone’s answers. I wasn’t quite sure who I would go with, but after each comment I kept changing my mind. Soccer players, no gymnasts! No triathlon athletes… I don’t know! All I know is that they are all awesome and are way more into fitness than I ever will be, lol.

  • Mary July 11, 2012, 3:04 pm

    No way on golfers. As a semi-professional soccer player, I find that offensive! haha. Pretty much all sports require mental calculation in addition to physicality, so I find that argument a wash.

    I’ve always felt soccer is one of the hardest sports because of the extreme physicality (and I’ve worn my fitbit during games and can attest to the fact that players run upwards of 7 miles a game, depending on how active the player is and what position she plays). Great soccer players are always strategizing, moving off the ball, and able to make split decisions at a high pace. Whereas in sports like golf, you have time to make decisions. In football and basketball, there are people to make decisions for you, and call whole plays (less so in basketball but they still do have timeouts). So that’s my plug for soccer’s superiority over golf, and also two of the most popular American sports.

    With all that said, I have ginormous respect for athletes like swimmers, cyclists, gymnasts and dancers – all of which seem to require a remarkable amount of full body fitness.

    I think ultimately, each sport has its nuances and specific challenges, and often, unless someone is extremely familiar with that sport (slash – performing that sport at a high level), an individual is really not going to know just what it takes to perform that sport at a high level.

    And also, this: http://espn.go.com/espn/photos/gallery/_/id/8136693/image/1/carlos-bocanegra-2012-body-issue-bodies-want-espn-magazine

  • Victoria July 11, 2012, 3:55 pm

    The Chinese national synchronized swimming team practices 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Beat that.

  • Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction July 11, 2012, 4:14 pm

    Tennis players or soccer players for sure!!!

  • Tanner July 11, 2012, 6:21 pm

    As a former professional ballet dancer, I obviously have to choose DANCERS!!! 🙂 I dedicated most of my life to my art, but apart from that can tell you that there is just no other “sport” that requires the muscle memory, mental focus and sacrifice that ballet does.

  • erin July 11, 2012, 7:41 pm

    Gymnastics of course! Strength. Determination. Endurance. Flexibility. Artistry. Mental strength..they can do anything! All their skills can transfer to any sport!

  • Steph @ A Hungry Bookworm July 11, 2012, 8:22 pm

    I would have to agree that soccer players work the hardest, my husband used to play keeper and boy howdy, he worked hard!

    • Jennie July 12, 2012, 6:29 am

      I was a keeper too until high school! I switched to get out of running laps! Ha! Total backfire! It was always great cross training for my first love, basketball. Also some bad ass athletes are ball players!

  • Jolene (Homespun Heritage) July 11, 2012, 8:49 pm

    My husbands votes are rugby, hockey and soccer…he plays hockey and I have to tell ya I’ve never seen someone sweat literal buckets before like he does! Seriously, dis-gust-ing!

  • Heather July 11, 2012, 10:09 pm

    i definitely agree on triathletes being the hardest working – but that is so interesting about soccer players (and referees!) i had no idea they ran so much!! i couldn’t imagine expending that much physical energy while also having to mentally focus on playing the game

  • luv what you do July 11, 2012, 10:11 pm

    Those triathletes are incredible! But I don’t think we can leave out the cyclists in the tour de france. They are amazing!

    • Jennie July 12, 2012, 6:27 am

      Oo true!

  • Linda July 12, 2012, 5:11 am

    Ballet dancers for sure! It takes total body conditioning and control, mental focus and discipline… plus there’s the artistic element, musicality, gracefulness and a well-honed ability to look like everything is effortless when you’re in a whole world of pain!

  • Helen July 12, 2012, 6:01 am

    Why a picture of Rooney! As a Brit, I the way he behaves is an embarrassment to our nation!

    What does your husband think about Rugby? Does he follow the sport at all?

  • Jennie July 12, 2012, 6:25 am

    What an interesting question! I have been sitting here for a while trying to come up with an answer. I think an ultra marathoner is pretty wow. But you are so right about the others! Tough!!! I watch golf and it bores me on TV but a friend gave us passes to the LPGA tour. It was a practice round (or whatver you call it) and it was so intense and awesome that now I am hooked. Hardest part is when they throw up the quiet sign. I stink at quiet. Other athlete (being quiet reminded me) is a bull fighter. So much honor and respect for the bill yet it is muli generational and your familial duty to slay it. Hmm…

  • Jennie July 12, 2012, 6:26 am

    I can’t spell today. I’m coffee?! Sorry ’bout that!

  • J-dog July 12, 2012, 7:30 am

    New mommies, like you, getting back in shape! Hands down. Managing it all is some of the hardest work, for sure. It takes dedication, perseverance, adaptability, tenacity, focus, you name it! Way to go Caitlin!

  • J-dog July 12, 2012, 7:38 am

    And, you do it all while taking care of a newborn and struggling to do the basics in life – eating and sleeping. You gotta be one tough cookie!

  • Sarah July 12, 2012, 10:12 am

    Obviously many of you don’t play golf. Check the ESPN The Body issues, every year there are multiple golfers in the mix. If you don’t have strong physical attributes for golf you won’t last long and won’t be successful. As Kenny Powers says, “I play real sports,I’m not trying to be the best at exercising” :).

  • Arlene @ Adventures in Weight Loss July 13, 2012, 1:22 am

    Golf? In high school, I was convinced marching band was more strenuous than golf. (Bet you’d never guess which I was in …)

    I think tennis players work pretty hard, but I’m probably biased, because that’s what my fiance plays. He’s a tennis pro, and has me watching Rafa, Federer and the rest. What they can do is amazing.

    Andy Murray’s loss was sad, for sure.

  • amanda July 13, 2012, 6:22 am

    Definitely have to go with the pro cyclists. I’ve just been to watch a couple of stages of the Tour while they were in the Alps, and their sheer athleticism amazes me.

  • BV February 14, 2013, 11:34 am

    I would agree on Ironman pro triathletes, although TDF cyclists are outrageous too, cycling those distances day after day for 2 weeks, and top swimmers putting in up to 100km a week in in training. However, while these athletes often work extremely hard at their individual sports, pro triathletes are putting in similar amounts of work to that each day, but in 3 disciplines! A world champion will often be up at 5am to put in a 7000yard set at the pool, followed by a quick rest then a 4-5 hour bike ride, followed by an hour or so of running later on, combined with stength and flexibility work, thats a lot of training!

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