The Best Athletes of 2012 Athletes
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19  reranks 26,875 votes 4,346 voters 7,974 views more info

The Best Athletes of 2012

List Criteria: Only 2012 performances on the field. Other years do not count

The best athletes of 2012 won Olympic gold medals, helped clinch team championships, broke world records and became some of the most admired athletes in the world. These athletic stars come from all sports and each offer something different to their adoring fans but they all accomplished incredible things during the 2012 calendar year. These are the best athletes of 2012.

With the 2012 London Summer Olympics the big highlight in the year in sports, it should be no surprise that many of 2012's best athletes were Olympic medalists. American swimmer Michael Phelps was easily the top athlete at the 2012 Summer Olympics when he brought home another six medals, bringing his career total to 22. But Phelps wasn't the only athlete to become an instant favorite at the 2012 games with sprinter Usain Bolt, tennis stars Andy Murray and Serena Williams and fellow swimmer Missy Franklin each winning big in their respective events.

There was much more to see than just the Olympics however with stars in the worlds of football, baseball, basketball and hockey, among other sports, dominating the action. Repeating their honors as top athletes of 2011, names like Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, Justin Verlander, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, LeBron James, small forward for the Miami Heat, and Tiger Woods, pro golfer, all returned to see success again in 2012.

Selecting a top athlete for a calendar year is often a matter of opinion and fandom so if you see someone you think should be higher or lower, vote accordingly. Want to re-rank the list or add someone we missed, do all of that below and help us rank the best athletes of 2012.
Be sure to also check out the Biggest Sports Disappointments of 2012, Famous Sports Speeches and the Best Sports to Watch.
List is ranked by a combination of each item's votes & positioning in reranks
  • 19 ReRanks
    • Region
  • See list ranked by
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Score
  1. 1
    Up 874
    Down 402

    most listed
    Usain Bolt

    1986 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 773
    Down 381
    1985 More
    94
  3. 3
    Up 1112
    Down 595

    the people's #1
    LeBron James

    1984 More
    93
  4. 4
    Up 836
    Down 423
    89
  5. 5
    Up 257
    Down 91
    1976 More
    88
  6. 6
    Up 594
    Down 357
    1988 More
    86
  7. 7
    Up 457
    Down 281
    1995 More
    84
  8. 8
    Up 416
    Down 296
    1987 More
    82
  9. 9
    Up 704
    Down 290
    1985 More
    82
  10. 10
    Up 427
    Down 265
    1985 More
    77
  11. 11
    Up 407
    Down 346
    1977 More
    68
  12. 12
    Up 330
    Down 292
    1983 More
    67
  13. 13
    Up 223
    Down 187
    1991 More
    65
  14. 14
    Up 343
    Down 238
    1983 More
    64
  15. 15
    Up 380
    Down 351
    1981 More
    63
  16. 16
    Up 251
    Down 315
    1978 More
    57
  17. 17
    Up 188
    Down 235
    1981 More
    57
  18. 18
    Up 152
    Down 169
    1991 More
    56
  19. 19
    Up 35
    Down 12

    ranked low on reranks
    Wayne Rooney

    1985 More
    55
  20. 20
    Up 79
    Down 104
    1974 More
    55
  21. 21
    Up 113
    Down 196
    1986 More
    54
  22. 22
    Up 147
    Down 260
    1977 More
    53
  23. 23
    Up 153
    Down 212
    1987 More
    53
  24. 24
    Up 133
    Down 175
    1981 More
    53
  25. 25
    Up 207
    Down 253
    1979 More
    53
  26. 26
    Up 143
    Down 204
    1980 More
    53
  27. 27
    Up 114
    Down 225

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Manny Pacquiáo

    1978 More
    53
  28. 28
    Up 117
    Down 119
    1987 More
    53
  29. 29
    Up 193
    Down 207
    1983 More
    52
  30. 30
    Up 12
    Down 1

    Sebastian Vettel

    52
    added by: Boqueman
  31. 31
    Up 14
    Down 0
    1986 More
    52
    added by: Boqueman
  32. 32
    Up 13
    Down 1

    Rūta Meilutytė

    51
    added by: Boqueman
  33. 33
    Up 31
    Down 11
    1981 More
    51
  34. 34
    Up 198
    Down 239
    1975 More
    51
  35. 35
    Up 12
    Down 1

    Sebastian Brendel

    50
    added by: Boqueman
  36. 36
    Up 11
    Down 1
    1987 More
    50
    added by: Boqueman
  37. 37
    Up 61
    Down 5

    ranked low on reranks
    Henry Armstrong

    1912 More
    50
  38. 38
    Up 113
    Down 218

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    David Beckham

    1975 More
    50
  39. 39
    Up 60
    Down 4

    ranked low on reranks
    Aaron Pryor

    1955 More
    49
  40. 40
    Up 174
    Down 219

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Bryce Harper

    1992 More
    49
  41. 41
    Up 53
    Down 2
    No image

    ranked low on reranks
    Humberto González

    1966 More
    49
  42. 42
    Up 176
    Down 228

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Carmelita Jeter

    1980 More
    49
  43. 43
    Up 93
    Down 23

    ranked low on reranks
    RGIII

    49
  44. 44
    Up 205
    Down 222
    1987 More
    49
  45. 45
    Up 24
    Down 10
    1980 More
    49
  46. 46
    Up 52
    Down 4

    ranked low on reranks
    Jake LaMotta

    1921 More
    48
  47. 47
    Up 14
    Down 0

    Yuliya Zaripova

    48
    added by: Boqueman
  48. 48
    Up 13
    Down 1
    1982 More
    48
    added by: Boqueman
  49. 49
    Up 118
    Down 251

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Cristiano Ronaldo

    1985 More
    47
  50. 50
    Up 13
    Down 1
    1981 More
    47
    added by: Boqueman
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