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
  • See list ranked by
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Score
  1. 50
    Up 99
    Down 215

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    David Beckham

    1975 More
    42
  2. 6
    Up 415
    Down 290
    1987 More
    86
  3. 85
    Up 11
    Down 5
    1985 More
    37
  4. 84
    Up 104
    Down 169

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Rajon Rondo

    1986 More
    37
  5. 93
    Up 39
    Down 118

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Neymar

    1992 More
    36
  6. 78
    Up 109
    Down 198

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Derrick Rose

    1988 More
    38
  7. 10
    Up 247
    Down 91
    1976 More
    79
  8. 9
    Up 426
    Down 264
    1985 More
    79
  9. 25
    Up 191
    Down 206
    1983 More
    54
  10. 13
    Up 342
    Down 235
    1983 More
    66
  11. 56
    Up 3
    Down 2
    1985 More
    41
  12. 83
    Up 11
    Down 38

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Robin van Persie

    1983 More
    37
  13. 11
    Up 329
    Down 291
    1983 More
    69
  14. 17
    Up 148
    Down 168
    1991 More
    57
  15. 66
    Up 68
    Down 172

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Matt Kemp

    1984 More
    40
  16. 23
    Up 247
    Down 315
    1978 More
    55
  17. 61
    Up 2
    Down 2
    1973 More
    41
  18. 47
    Up 14
    Down 12
    1985 More
    43
  19. 115
    Up 55
    Down 118
    1985 More
    33
  20. 119
    Up 19
    Down 86

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Mike Conley, Jr.

    1987 More
    31
  21. 124
    Up 34
    Down 102
    1986 More
    29
  22. 125
    Up 23
    Down 90
    1982 More
    27
  23. 122
    Up 47
    Down 120
    1981 More
    31
  24. 3
    Up 1111
    Down 587

    the people's #1
    LeBron James

    1984 More
    96
  25. 7
    Up 703
    Down 287
    1985 More
    85
  26. 14
    Up 402
    Down 346
    1977 More
    62
  27. 21
    Up 205
    Down 252
    1979 More
    55
  28. 27
    Up 128
    Down 173
    1981 More
    51
  29. 82
    Up 1
    Down 6
    1986 More
    37
  30. 51
    Up 11
    Down 12
    1987 More
    42
  31. 19
    Up 73
    Down 102
    1974 More
    56
  32. 81
    Up 1
    Down 6
    1987 More
    37
  33. 12
    Up 221
    Down 186
    1991 More
    68
  34. 67
    Up 1
    Down 2
    No image
    40
  35. 5
    Up 593
    Down 350
    1988 More
    90
  36. 73
    Up 115
    Down 155
    1988 More
    39
  37. 58
    Up 61
    Down 177

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Dwight Howard

    1985 More
    41
  38. 28
    Up 118
    Down 228
    1985 More
    51
  39. 64
    Up 3
    Down 4
    1986 More
    40
  40. 75
    Up 55
    Down 161

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jimmer Fredette

    1989 More
    38
  41. 32
    Up 190
    Down 220

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Buster Posey

    1987 More
    49
  42. 62
    Up 4
    Down 5
    1986 More
    41
  43. 118
    Up 22
    Down 33
    1985 More
    31
  44. 41
    Up 109
    Down 192

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Josh Hamilton

    1981 More
    45
  45. 22
    Up 140
    Down 203
    1980 More
    55
  46. 30
    Up 162
    Down 216
    1992 More
    50
  47. 77
    Up 31
    Down 20
    1876 More
    38
  48. 35
    Up 79
    Down 21

    ranked low on reranks
    RGIII

    48
  49. 33
    Up 48
    Down 0

    ranked low on reranks
    Aaron Pryor

    1955 More
    49
  50. 52
    Up 22
    Down 2
    1952 More
    42
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