The Best Athletes of 2012 Athletes
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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
  • 16 ReRanks
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Score
  1. 1
    Up 872
    Down 394
    1986 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 772
    Down 371

    most listed
    Michael Phelps

    1985 More
    98
  3. 3
    Up 1111
    Down 587

    the people's #1
    LeBron James

    1984 More
    96
  4. 4
    Up 835
    Down 415
    92
  5. 5
    Up 593
    Down 350
    1988 More
    90
  6. 6
    Up 415
    Down 290
    1987 More
    86
  7. 7
    Up 703
    Down 287
    1985 More
    85
  8. 8
    Up 445
    Down 281
    1995 More
    80
  9. 9
    Up 426
    Down 264
    1985 More
    79
  10. 10
    Up 247
    Down 91
    1976 More
    79
  11. 11
    Up 329
    Down 291
    1983 More
    69
  12. 12
    Up 221
    Down 186
    1991 More
    68
  13. 13
    Up 342
    Down 235
    1983 More
    66
  14. 14
    Up 402
    Down 346
    1977 More
    62
  15. 15
    Up 379
    Down 345
    1981 More
    62
  16. 16
    Up 186
    Down 232
    1981 More
    59
  17. 17
    Up 148
    Down 168
    1991 More
    57
  18. 18
    Up 144
    Down 256
    1977 More
    56
  19. 19
    Up 73
    Down 102
    1974 More
    56
  20. 20
    Up 150
    Down 208
    1987 More
    55
  21. 21
    Up 205
    Down 252
    1979 More
    55
  22. 22
    Up 247
    Down 315
    1978 More
    55
  23. 23
    Up 140
    Down 203
    1980 More
    55
  24. 24
    Up 106
    Down 224
    1978 More
    54
  25. 25
    Up 191
    Down 206
    1983 More
    54
  26. 26
    Up 196
    Down 237
    1975 More
    52
  27. 27
    Up 128
    Down 173
    1981 More
    51
  28. 28
    Up 118
    Down 224
    1985 More
    51
  29. 29
    Up 163
    Down 221
    1980 More
    50
  30. 30
    Up 158
    Down 216
    1992 More
    49
  31. 31
    Up 47
    Down 1

    ranked low on reranks
    Henry Armstrong

    1912 More
    49
  32. 32
    Up 186
    Down 220

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Buster Posey

    1987 More
    48
  33. 33
    Up 44
    Down 0

    ranked low on reranks
    Aaron Pryor

    1955 More
    48
  34. 34
    Up 93
    Down 190

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Rafael Nadal

    1986 More
    47
  35. 35
    Up 76
    Down 21

    ranked low on reranks
    RGIII

    47
  36. 36
    Up 93
    Down 196

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Georges St-Pierre

    1981 More
    46
  37. 37
    Up 37
    Down 1
    No image

    ranked low on reranks
    Humberto González

    1966 More
    46
  38. 38
    Up 12
    Down 10

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Hope Solo

    1981 More
    46
  39. 39
    Up 39
    Down 3
    1921 More
    46
  40. 40
    Up 37
    Down 2

    ranked low on reranks
    Joe Brown

    1925 More
    46
  41. 41
    Up 107
    Down 192

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Josh Hamilton

    1981 More
    45
  42. 42
    Up 79
    Down 75
    1989 More
    44
  43. 43
    Up 169
    Down 309

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Tiger Woods

    1975 More
    44
  44. 44
    Up 7
    Down 9
    1980 More
    43
  45. 45
    Up 9
    Down 5
    1995 More
    43
  46. 46
    Up 23
    Down 1
    1935 More
    42
  47. 47
    Up 35
    Down 10

    ranked low on reranks
    Muhammad Ali

    1942 More
    42
  48. 48
    Up 98
    Down 214

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    David Beckham

    1975 More
    42
  49. 49
    Up 22
    Down 1
    1958 More
    42
  50. 50
    Up 12
    Down 12
    1985 More
    42
  51. 128 +

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