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.

  • 19 ReRanks
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  1. 39
    + 118
    - 221

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Leytonstone, London, United Kingdom

    ) open
  2. 8
    + 423
    - 301


    Rosario, Argentina

    ) open
  3. 108
    + 13
    - 5


    Exton, Pennsylvania, United States of America

    ) open
  4. 64
    + 12
    - 0

    added by Boqueman
    Skövde, Sweden

    ) open
  5. 110
    + 105
    - 172


    Louisville, Kentucky, United States of America

    ) open
  6. 107
    + 40
    - 121

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil

    ) open
  7. 106
    + 111
    - 199

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

    ) open
  8. 5
    + 269
    - 96


    New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

    ) open
  9. 10
    + 433
    - 267


    Newnan, Georgia, United States of America

    ) open
  10. 35
    + 194
    - 207


    Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, United States of America

    ) open
  11. 14
    + 344
    - 242


    Maracay, Venezuela

    ) open
  12. 90
    + 3
    - 5


    Stevenage, United Kingdom

    ) open
  13. 74
    + 13
    - 38

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Rotterdam, Netherlands

    ) open
  14. 12
    + 333
    - 293


    Chico, California, United States of America

    ) open
  15. 18
    + 154
    - 170


    Vineland, New Jersey, United States of America

    ) open
  16. 85
    + 69
    - 173

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Midwest City, Oklahoma, United States of America

    ) open
  17. 17
    + 255
    - 320


    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

    ) open
  18. 82
    + 3
    - 2


    Cardiff, United Kingdom

    ) open
  19. 23
    + 37
    - 14

    ranked low on reranks
    Croxteth, United Kingdom

    ) open
  20. 135
    + 56
    - 119


    Barcelona, Spain

    ) open
  21. 141
    + 20
    - 87

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States of America

    ) open
  22. 149
    + 35
    - 102


    Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America

    ) open
  23. 151
    + 23
    - 90


    Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

    ) open
  24. 146
    + 47
    - 123


    Marion, Indiana, United States of America

    ) open
  25. 3
    + 1115
    - 610

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

    ) open
  26. 9
    + 708
    - 293


    Palestine, Texas, United States of America

    ) open
  27. 11
    + 414
    - 348


    San Mateo, California, United States of America

    ) open
  28. 29
    + 208
    - 255

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Austin, Texas, United States of America

    ) open
  29. 25
    + 136
    - 178


    New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

    ) open
  30. 91
    + 2
    - 7


    Long Beach, California, United States of America

    ) open
  31. 81
    + 12
    - 15


    Makati, Philippines

    ) open
  32. 19
    + 81
    - 106


    Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America

    ) open
  33. 89
    + 2
    - 6


    Edina, Minnesota, United States of America

    ) open
  34. 13
    + 224
    - 191


    Laie, Hawaii, United States of America

    ) open
  35. 88
    + 1
    - 2
    No image
    ) open
  36. 6
    + 595
    - 368


    Washington, D.C., United States of America

    ) open
  37. 101
    + 117
    - 157


    Long Beach, California, United States of America

    ) open
  38. 79
    + 63
    - 180

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America

    ) open
  39. 45
    + 123
    - 254

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Santo António, Portugal

    ) open
  40. 86
    + 3
    - 4


    Praia, Cape Verde

    ) open
  41. 98
    + 55
    - 163

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Glens Falls, New York, United States of America

    ) open
  42. 48
    + 207
    - 222

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Leesburg, Georgia, United States of America

    ) open
  43. 80
    + 5
    - 5


    Long Beach, California, United States of America

    ) open
  44. 143
    + 23
    - 33


    Murfreesboro, Tennessee, United States of America

    ) open
  45. 65
    + 127
    - 193

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Raleigh, North Carolina, United States of America

    ) open
  46. 27
    + 144
    - 207


    Rochester, New York, United States of America

    ) open
  47. 44
    + 175
    - 220


    Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America

    ) open
  48. 109
    + 31
    - 23


    West Hartlepool, United Kingdom

    ) open
  49. 58
    + 94
    - 23


    RGIII

  50. 38
    + 60
    - 5

    ranked low on reranks
    Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America

    ) open
154 +

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