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. 50
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    Paddington, London, United Kingdom

    ) open
  2. 49
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    - 222

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

    ) open
  3. 48
    + 13
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    ranked low on reranks & added by Boqueman
    Katie Ledecky

  4. 47
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    added by Boqueman
    King City, King, Canada

    ) open
  5. 46
    + 176
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Los Angeles, California, United States of America

    ) open
  6. 45
    + 123
    - 254

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Santo António, Portugal

    ) open
  7. 44
    + 175
    - 220

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

    ) open
  8. 43
    + 62
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    ranked low on reranks
    Columbus, Mississippi, United States of America

    ) open
  9. 42
    + 15
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    added by Boqueman
    Sebastian Brendel

  10. 41
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    Tri-Cities, Richland, Washington

    ) open
  11. 40
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    São Paulo, Brazil

    ) open
  12. 39
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Leytonstone, London, United Kingdom

    ) open
  13. 38
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    - 5

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

    ) open
  14. 37
    + 17
    - 2

    added by Boqueman
    Paddington, Sydney, Australia

    ) open
  15. 36
    + 17
    - 2

    added by Boqueman
    Rūta Meilutytė

  16. 35
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    Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, United States of America

    ) open
  17. 34
    + 18
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    added by Boqueman
    Yuliya Zaripova

  18. 33
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    added by Boqueman
    Sebastian Vettel

  19. 32
    + 18
    - 1

    added by Boqueman
    Saint Petersburg, Russia

    ) open
  20. 31
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    ranked low on reranks & added by Boqueman
    Yerevan, Armenia

    ) open
  21. 30
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Nyagan, Russia

    ) open
  22. 29
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Austin, Texas, United States of America

    ) open
  23. 28
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    's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

    ) open
  24. 27
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    Rochester, New York, United States of America

    ) open
  25. 26
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    Belgrade, Serbia

    ) open
  26. 25
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    New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

    ) open
  27. 24
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    - 3

    ranked low on reranks
    Mexico

    ) open
  28. 23
    + 117
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    Kibawe, Philippines

    ) open
  29. 22
    + 37
    - 14

    ranked low on reranks
    Croxteth, United Kingdom

    ) open
  30. 21
    + 148
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    Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States of America

    ) open
  31. 20
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    Manacor, Spain

    ) open
  32. 19
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    Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America

    ) open
  33. 18
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    Vineland, New Jersey, United States of America

    ) open
  34. 17
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    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

    ) open
  35. 16
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    Basel, Switzerland

    ) open
  36. 15
    + 384
    - 356

    Saginaw, Michigan, United States of America

    ) open
  37. 14
    + 344
    - 242

    Maracay, Venezuela

    ) open
  38. 13
    + 224
    - 191

    Laie, Hawaii, United States of America

    ) open
  39. 12
    + 334
    - 293

    Chico, California, United States of America

    ) open
  40. 11
    + 414
    - 348

    San Mateo, California, United States of America

    ) open
  41. 10
    + 434
    - 267

    Newnan, Georgia, United States of America

    ) open
  42. 9
    + 708
    - 293

    Palestine, Texas, United States of America

    ) open
  43. 8
    + 424
    - 301

    Rosario, Argentina

    ) open
  44. 7
    + 463
    - 286

    Pasadena, California, United States of America

    ) open
  45. 6
    + 595
    - 368

    Washington, D.C., United States of America

    ) open
  46. 5
    + 270
    - 96

    New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

    ) open
  47. 4
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  48. 3
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    the people's #1
    Akron, Ohio, United States of America

    ) open
  49. 2
    + 782
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    Towson, Baltimore, Maryland

    ) open
  50. 1
    + 880
    - 416

    most listed
    Sherwood Content, Jamaica

    ) open
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