Hockey

Wickenheiser makes Sports Illustrated's top 25 toughest athletes

Canadian women's hockey superstar Hayley Wickenheiser is one tough customer, the 20th-toughest customer, to be exact.

Canadian women's hockey superstar Hayley Wickenheiser is one tough customer — the 20th-toughest customer, to be exact.

This, according to a new top 25 ranking of the world's toughest athletes posted on Sports Illustrated's website Tuesday.

"No player in women's hockey drives to the net with such purpose and fury," the magazine's website reads. "Wickenheiser has grown from teen phenom to grande dame of Canadian hockey, carrying the weight of her country and game every time [she's] on the ice. Sadly, she isn't allowed to bodycheck."

Wickenheiser, 29, is one of only just two women on the list, the other being British triathlete Chrissie Wellington at No. 10.

Five-foot-ten, 170-pound Wickenheiser is captain of the Canadian women's squad currently in Harbin, China, for the world championships, which begin Friday.

"I think it's great for our sport in general and it's pretty cool it's a Canadian girl," teammate Carla MacLeod said. "Any time you can get our sport on a stage like that with Sports Illustrated, it's awesome."

Golf great Tiger Woods tops the list, followed by Iditarod champion Lance Mackey, ultimate fighter Anderson Silva and NFL safety Bob Sanders.

"Geez, only 19 away [from Woods]. That's about how many shots I'd be behind him on a hole," Wickenheiser joked on Thursday. "Just for them to pay attention and pick somebody in women's hockey, you know you're on the radar."

The Shaunavon, Sask., native, who lives in Calgary, has played pro hockey against men in Finland, was named MVP for women's hockey at the 2002 Winter Olympics, and even competed on the Canadian women's Olympic softball team in 2000.

Other hockey players selected for the list were Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara (No. 5) and Detroit Red Wings veteran Chris Chelios (No. 11).
 
In 25th place was competitive eater Joey Chestnut, who is credited with "intestinal fortitude of the highest order."

With files from Canadian Press