The Best Athletes of 2012 Athletes

The Best Athletes of 2012

27k votes 4.4k voters 10k views 156 items tags f p @

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 Photo: user uploaded image
  • 20 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 885
    - 419
    Usain Bolt is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    most listed
    Usain Bolt Sherwood Content, Jamaica

  2. 2
    + 784
    - 397
    Michael Phelps is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Michael Phelps Towson, Baltimore, Maryland

  3. 3
    + 1,120
    - 612
    LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    the people's #1
    LeBron James Akron, Ohio, United States of America

  4. 4
    + 276
    - 97
    Peyton Manning is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Peyton Manning New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

  5. 5
    + 859
    - 444
    Gabby Douglas is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Gabby Douglas Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States of America

  6. 6
    + 709
    - 295


    Palestine, Texas, United States of America

    ;
  7. 7
    + 598
    - 372
    Kevin Durant is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Kevin Durant Washington, D.C., United States of America

  8. 8
    + 464
    - 290
    Missy Franklin is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Missy Franklin Pasadena, California, United States of America

  9. 9
    + 432
    - 305
    Lionel Messi is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Lionel Messi Rosario, Argentina

  10. 10
    + 436
    - 270
    Calvin Johnson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Calvin Johnson Newnan, Georgia, United States of America

  11. 11
    + 417
    - 349
    Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Tom Brady San Mateo, California, United States of America

  12. 12
    + 345
    - 243
    Miguel Cabrera is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Miguel Cabrera Maracay, Venezuela

  13. 13
    + 335
    - 294

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Chico, California, United States of America

    ;
  14. 14
    + 63
    - 10
    Henry Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    ranked low on reranks
    Henry Armstrong Columbus, Mississippi, United States of America

  15. 15
    + 224
    - 193
    Manti Te'o is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Manti Te'o Laie, Hawaii, United States of America

  16. 16
    + 53
    - 5

    ranked low on reranks
    Mexico

    ;
  17. 17
    + 19
    - 1
    Anna Chicherova is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    added by Boqueman
    Anna Chicherova Yerevan, Armenia

  18. 18
    + 19
    - 1
    Yuliya Zaripova is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    added by Boqueman
    Yuliya Zaripova

  19. 19
    + 386
    - 357
    Serena Williams is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Serena Williams Saginaw, Michigan, United States of America

  20. 20
    + 60
    - 8


    Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America

    ;
  21. 21
    + 12
    - 0
    Olga Rypakova is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    added by Boqueman
    Olga Rypakova Oskemen, Kazakhstan

  22. 22
    + 94
    - 24
    RGIII is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    RGIII

  23. 23
    + 39
    - 16


    Croxteth, United Kingdom

    ;
  24. 24
    + 35
    - 12
    Hope Solo is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Hope Solo Richland, Tri-Cities, Washington

  25. 25
    + 53
    - 9
    Jake LaMotta is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Jake LaMotta New York City, New York, United States of America

  26. 26
    + 17
    - 3

    added by Boqueman
    Heppenheim, Germany

    ;
  27. 27
    + 26
    - 12


    Mol, Belgium, Belgium

    ;
  28. 28
    + 200
    - 237

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Basel, Switzerland

    ;
  29. 29
    + 40
    - 6
    Azumah Nelson is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    ranked low on reranks
    Azumah Nelson Accra, Ghana

  30. 30
    + 155
    - 171
    Mike Trout is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Mike Trout Vineland, New Jersey, United States of America

  31. 31
    + 52
    - 12

    ranked low on reranks
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States of America

    ;
  32. 32
    + 17
    - 4
    Sally McLellan is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    added by Boqueman
    Sally McLellan Paddington, Sydney, Australia

  33. 33
    + 124
    - 120
    Maria Sharapova is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Maria Sharapova Nyagan, Russia

  34. 34
    + 16
    - 3

    added by Boqueman
    's-Hertogenbosch, Kingdom of the Netherlands

    ;
  35. 35
    + 16
    - 4
    Rūta Meilutytė is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    added by Boqueman
    Rūta Meilutytė Kaunas, Lithuania

  36. 36
    + 15
    - 3

    added by Boqueman
    King City, King, Canada

    ;
  37. 37
    + 257
    - 320
    Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Kobe Bryant Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

  38. 38
    + 15
    - 3
    Sebastian Brendel is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    added by Boqueman
    Sebastian Brendel Schwedt, Germany

  39. 39
    + 209
    - 222


    Leesburg, Georgia, United States of America

    ;
  40. 40
    + 18
    - 3
    Natalya Antyukh is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    added by Boqueman
    Natalya Antyukh Saint Petersburg, Russia

  41. 41
    + 82
    - 106
    R. A. Dickey is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    R. A. Dickey Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America

  42. 42
    + 195
    - 207


    Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, United States of America

    ;
  43. 43
    + 14
    - 2
    Katie Ledecky is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    added by Boqueman
    Katie Ledecky Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America

  44. 44
    + 177
    - 220
    Bryce Harper is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Bryce Harper Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America

  45. 45
    + 209
    - 256
    Drew Brees is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Drew Brees Austin, Texas, United States of America

  46. 46
    + 138
    - 178
    Eli Manning is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    often listed
    Eli Manning New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

  47. 47
    + 14
    - 2
    Zara Phillips is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    ranked low on reranks & added by Boqueman
    Zara Phillips Paddington, London, United Kingdom

  48. 48
    + 100
    - 76
    Rory McIlroy is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

    ranked low on reranks
    Rory McIlroy Holywood, Bangor, United Kingdom

  49. 49
    + 178
    - 229
    Carmelita Jeter is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012


    Carmelita Jeter Los Angeles, California, United States of America

  50. 50
    + 11
    - 2

    added by Boqueman
    Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia

    ;
157 +

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