Howard Schatz's Images Of Female Athletes Are Unbelievable

11/19/2013 12:33 pm ET | Updated Nov 20, 2013

The images below show an incredible variety of women, ranging in weight, height, race and proportion.

What they all have in common is that they are professional athletes at their physical peak.

female olympic athletes

female olympic athletes

The images, taken by photographer Howard Schatz for his 2002 book, Athlete, recently resurfaced, reminding us of the diversity of women's bodies.

Schatz interviewed and photographed hundreds of athletes for the book, a project he says was inspired by his interest in human variation and the musculoskeletal system. "I was also interested in passion," he told the Huffington Post in a phone interview. "I was interested in what got them to do this. Because to become a champion, you have to put away so many things in life."

During his interviews, Schatz noted very little difference between how the male and female athletes approached their sport. "I found that [the women in the project] were simply athletes," he told HuffPost. "Their commitment, their focus in life, their goals for winning and championship were not different from the men's. [T]here wasn't a feminine focus, a feminine ambition."

The only gender difference apparent to Schatz was how the athletes approached the issue of having children. Some of the women mentioned that they would put off having kids until they were past their physical prime. "Men didn't really have to delay having families, and having a family didn't seem to interfere with their pursuits," Schatz said.

Throughout the project, Schatz says he remained in awe of his subjects. He told HuffPost: "Focus, determination, competition and pursuit of a goal do not have a gender."

Howard Schatz's most recent book, Caught In The Act, features portraits of actors including Hugh Laurie, Whoopi Goldberg and Amy Poehler.

Also on HuffPost:

21 Photos That Showcase Women's Athleticism
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