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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.

The Best Athletes of 2012 Athletes
  • 20 ReRanks
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  • 2 See list ranked by
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  1. 1
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    most listed
    Sherwood Content, Jamaica

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  2. 2
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    Towson, Baltimore, Maryland

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  3. 3
    + 1116
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    the people's #1
    Akron, Ohio, United States of America

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  4. 4
    + 857
    - 442


    Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States of America

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  5. 5
    + 274
    - 96


    New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

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  6. 6
    + 708
    - 294


    Palestine, Texas, United States of America

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  7. 7
    + 596
    - 370


    Washington, D.C., United States of America

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  8. 8
    + 464
    - 287


    Pasadena, California, United States of America

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  9. 9
    + 427
    - 303

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Rosario, Argentina

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  10. 10
    + 434
    - 270

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Newnan, Georgia, United States of America

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  11. 11
    + 14
    - 0

    added by Boqueman
    Katie Ledecky

  12. 12
    + 14
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    ranked low on reranks & added by Boqueman
    Paddington, London, United Kingdom

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  13. 13
    + 53
    - 3

    ranked low on reranks
    Mexico

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  14. 14
    + 415
    - 349


    San Mateo, California, United States of America

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  15. 15
    + 63
    - 8


    Columbus, Mississippi, United States of America

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  16. 16
    + 334
    - 294


    Chico, California, United States of America

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  17. 17
    + 345
    - 242


    Maracay, Venezuela

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  18. 18
    + 224
    - 192


    Laie, Hawaii, United States of America

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  19. 19
    + 384
    - 356

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Saginaw, Michigan, United States of America

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  20. 20
    + 60
    - 6

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

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  21. 21
    + 18
    - 1

    added by Boqueman
    Yerevan, Armenia

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  22. 22
    + 16
    - 1

    added by Boqueman
    's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

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  23. 23
    + 18
    - 1

    added by Boqueman
    Saint Petersburg, Russia

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  24. 24
    + 18
    - 1

    added by Boqueman
    Yuliya Zaripova

  25. 25
    + 13
    - 0

    added by Boqueman
    Boise, Idaho, United States of America

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  26. 26
    + 15
    - 1

    added by Boqueman
    King City, King, Canada

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  27. 27
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    - 15

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Croxteth, United Kingdom

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  28. 28
    + 12
    - 0

    added by Boqueman
    Fredonia, New York, United States of America

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  29. 29
    + 12
    - 0

    added by Boqueman
    Chelyabinsk, Russia

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  30. 30
    + 12
    - 0

    added by Boqueman
    Jade Jones

  31. 31
    + 12
    - 0

    added by Boqueman
    Émilie Fer

  32. 32
    + 12
    - 0

    added by Boqueman
    Elisa Di Francisca

  33. 33
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    - 23


    RGIII

  34. 34
    + 12
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    added by Boqueman
    Skövde, Sweden

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  35. 35
    + 53
    - 7


    New York City, New York, United States of America

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  36. 36
    + 40
    - 4


    Accra, Ghana

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  37. 37
    + 17
    - 2

    added by Boqueman
    Rūta Meilutytė

  38. 38
    + 16
    - 2

    added by Boqueman
    Sebastian Vettel

  39. 39
    + 17
    - 2

    added by Boqueman
    Paddington, Sydney, Australia

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  40. 40
    + 26
    - 10

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Mol, Belgium, Belgium

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  41. 41
    + 11
    - 0

    added by Boqueman
    Oskemen, Kazakhstan

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  42. 42
    + 196
    - 237

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Basel, Switzerland

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  43. 43
    + 11
    - 0

    added by Boqueman
    Winkel, Switzerland

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  44. 44
    + 11
    - 0

    ranked low on reranks & added by Boqueman
    Bílovec, Czech Republic

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  45. 45
    + 154
    - 170


    Vineland, New Jersey, United States of America

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  46. 46
    + 33
    - 12


    Tri-Cities, Richland, Washington

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  47. 47
    + 255
    - 320


    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

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  48. 48
    + 123
    - 120


    Nyagan, Russia

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  49. 49
    + 15
    - 2

    added by Boqueman
    Sebastian Brendel

  50. 50
    + 81
    - 106


    Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America

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157 +

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