Athletes to Watch at the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games

Click through to see some of the top athletes who will appear at the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games.

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Serena Williams, 30, U.S.: Five-Time Wimbledon champ Serena Williams is on a roll and it's a safe bet that she will continue that success when she represents Team USA in the 2012 Olympic Games along with her sister Venus. Click to see more great athletes worth watching this summer.
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Kerri Walsh and Misty May Treanor, 33 and 34, USA: They have been called "the greatest beach volleyball team of all time," and took home gold at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. May-Treanor has won more tournaments than any other female player. Will they win the gold again this year?
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Michael Phelps, 26, United States of America: The 14-time Olympic gold medalist was one of the most successful athletes in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. The London 2012 Olympic Games will likely be his last.
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Jessica Ennis, 26, Great Britain: This British born track and field athlete specializes in multi-eventing disciplines and 100m hurdles. She is also a former world indoor pentathlon champion. Fun fact: Ennis writes writes a column for Great Britain's The Times, and is a patron for businessman Barrie Well’s sports foundation.
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Anna Meares, 28, Australia: Meares has been breaking cycling records since the age of 20. She started cycling at 11, following her older sister Kerrie Meares, who is also in the sport. They both participated in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, with Anna winning a gold medal and setting a new world record in the Women’s 500m time trial.
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Mariel Zagunis, 27, USA: Zagunis is a star sabre fencer, taking home gold in the individual sabre at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games. Zagunis is the second American to win a gold medal in Olympic fencing. Voted for by her teammates, she was chosen to carry the U.S. flag in this year’s Opening Ceremony.
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Kohei Uchimura, 23, Japan: Uchimura is an Olympic silver medalist who made history in October 2011 as the first gymnast to win three consecutive all-around world titles. He was ranked No. 51 in Time Magazine's “100 Olympic Athletes To Watch" in 2008, and his versatility in individual floor and high bar makes him a favorite to win.
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Timo Boll, 31, Germany: Boll is No. 1 in the German Table Tennis National League, and No. 6 in world rankings (as of March 2012). Left-handed, he has beaten China's world champion Wang Liqin and the Olympic champion Kong Linghui. He began playing the sport at 4 years old, and was discovered by a trainer when he was 8.
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Anky van Grunsven, 44, Netherlands: Grunsven has won three consecutive gold medals since the 2000 Olympic Games, and is looking to score one more this time around. She's also been the World Cup Dressage Champion eight times, and married equestrian coach Sjef Janssen.
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Marcus Ehning, 38, Germany: Currently ranked number 1 show jumper in the world, Ehning’s personal motto is “never give up.” The Olympic gold medalist won many races with the famous horse, For Pleasure, who earned 1.8 million euros at the age of 20.
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Usain Bolt, 25, Jamaica: He is without hyperbole the fastest man in the world. Bolt is a five-time World and three-time Olympic gold medalist, and currently holds the record for the 100 and 200 meter races.The last name, "Bolt," came after his world-record breaking run in NYC that was preceded by a lightning storm.
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Bradley Wiggins, 32, Britain: Wiggins, nicknamed Wiggo, is the only track and road cyclist to have won a Grand Tour and Olympic track cycling gold medal. After winning the 2012 Tour de France, Wiggins also became the first British winner in the competition’s 99 year history.
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Ekaterina Gamova, 31, Russia: At 6 feet 8 inches tall, Gamova is one of the tallest female athletes in the world. With a contract price as high as 1.5 million Euros, she is also the highest paid female volleyball player, and for good reason: she was part of the national team that won gold at the 2006 and 2010 FIVB Volleyball World Championships.
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Federica Pellegrini, 23, Italy: Pelligrini is Italy's youngest Olympic medal winner. In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games she broke her own record and won her first gold medal in the 200m freestyle.
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Du Li, 30, China: Sports shooter Du Li, along with her sports-shooter husband Pang Wei have a house full of medals. Fun fact: on opening day of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Du Li gave birth to their son. They are the first couple to enter as contenders in the Olympic Games on China’s national shooting team.
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Christopher Hoy, 35, Scotland: He's the Real McHoy! Scottish-born Chris Hoy is a track cyclist, winning multiple world championships and Olympic gold medals. He is the first Briton to win three gold medals in a single Olympic game since Henry Taylor — in 1908. And, he is actually "Sir" Christopher Hoy — he was knighted in 2009.
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Artur Beterbiev, 27, Russia: Beterbiev is a Chechen light heavyweight boxer for Russia. He was named the International Boxing Association's best amateur boxer of 2010, and at 27, he is older than many amateur boxers. Described as a very skilled heavy-handed puncher, he is at the top of the list of amateur contenders.
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Alicia Coutts, 24, Australia: Coutts swims for a special person: her father, who passed away when she was a child. The day her father died, Coutts had a swim meet planned, and despite her grief, decided to swim in his memory. She won every race she swam that day, and hasn't stopped swimming since.
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Peter Joppich, 29, Germany: A multiple winner of national and world titles, he is considered among the best foil fencers in the world. He won his first world championship when he was just 21 years old. He credits his success to former German fencer and Olympic gold medalist Uli Schreck, under whom he trained for more than 10 years.
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Yoshida Saori, 29, Japan: Don't mess with Saori! She is a wrestler who's won every world and international level tournament she has entered since her debut in 2002! She's won gold at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, and in 2006 she surpassed a 100-match winning streak.
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Tom Daley, 18, Great Britain: Daley, a diver, was the youngest competitor to participate in a final when he represented Britain at the 2008 Olympics. He started diving at 7, won the 2009 FINA World Championship at 15, and won two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
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Marta Vieira da Silva, 26, Brazil: The Brazilian star was voted FIFA Women's World Player of the Year five years in a row from 2006 to 2010, and took home Olympic silver in 2008, but has yet to win gold. Fun fact: Marta started playing football in an all-male league because there was no female team in her hometown of Dois Riachos.
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Max Hoff, 29, Germany: Hoff began as a whitewater athlete, and joined the German Canoe Sprint team after racing the fastest in the 2000m national trials. He finished fifth at the 2008 Olympics and took home three gold medals in 2010 from world championships. Fun fact: he recently graduated with a degree in Bio-Chemistry.
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Mahe Drysdale, 33, New Zealand: Drysdale began his rowing career at the age of 18, and since 2001, has become a five-time world champion in the single sculler. He also has a world championship silver medal and an Olympic bronze.
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Teddy Riner, 23, France: aka "Teddy Bear" and "Teddy Winner," is a tall (6'8'") and heavy (306 pounds) Judo champion. He is the first judoka to have won five world titles, yet not Olympic gold (though he took home bronze in 2008). He was born on the island of Guadalupe, and raised in Paris.
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Steven Lopez, 23, USA: is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in Taekwondo. He is also the first Taekwondo fighter to win 5 world championships. He learned the sport in his garage when he was 5 years old, but he was born a winner: his three siblings, Mark, Diana and Jean are all Olympians, and were on the same team at the 2008 Olympic Games.
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Tony Estanguet, 33, France: this Frenchman was the first to defend an Olympic individual whitewater canoeing title in 2004 when his long-time rival, Michal Martikan, incurred a two-second penalty after post-race review. With encouragement from his father, he started canoeing when he was five, and won World Cup gold at his debut at 18 years old.
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Lena Schoneborn, 26, Germany: Schoneborn has been a pentathlete since she was 14, but 2008 marked her first entrance to the Olympic stage. In 2011 she was crowned number one in the world after taking home her first European title and World Cup gold. Fun fact: she is currently studying Business Administration in Berlin.
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Im Dong-Hyun, 25, South Korea: Although his eyesight (20/200) is bad enough to be considered legally blind, he is widely considered the best archer in the world. He refuses to wear corrective lenses, and turned down offers for free corrective eye surgery. This year he will attempt to earn his third Olympic gold medal.
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Lin Dan, 28, China: is a four-time world champion badminton player. He is a five-time All England champion and the reigning Olympic champion. Not only that: he is widely considered to be the best badminton player of all time, being the first and only player to complete the "Super Grand Slam," having won all nine major titles in world badminton.
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Lobke Berkhout, 32, Netherlands: is the world’s most successful sailor in the 2-person dinghy 470-class, with five world championships. She has yet to win an Olympic gold, taking home a silver in the 2008 Olympic Games. Berkhout was raised in a sailing family: her grandfather captained a famous Dutch royal yacht for Queen Beatrix.
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Rani Rampal, 18, India: after scoring seven goals against the toughest teams in the world at the 2010 Women's Hockey World Cup, winning her the "Best Young Player" award, 15-year-old field hockey star Rampai had a disappointing 2011. "I was troubled by a hamstring injury and was not at my fittest." She hopes to bring the fire back this year.
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Saina Nehwal, 22, India: is the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships and is currently ranked number 5 by Badminton World Federation. Nehwal brought India glory by winning the Indonesia Open over higher-ranked Chinese Lin Wang.
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Sarah Menezes, 22, Brazil: Menezes became interested in Judo after watching a demonstration at school when she was 9 years old. Now, Sarah is third in the world for her category, and looking to show off her skills at the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games.
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Teun De Nooijer, 36, Netherlands: this field hockey champ has twice become the Olympic champion with the Dutch national squad. He was also named "Player of the Year" three times by the International Hockey Federation. Fun fact: he learned field hockey from his brothers in the backyard of their house when he was 9.
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LeBron James, 27, United States of America: The American born guard/forward for the Miami Heat has been making a name for himself as one of the NBA’s powerhouses since becoming the number one draft pick in 2003 at the age of 18. At the 2008 Olympic Games, with James’ help, the U.S. team took home the gold.
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Paula Radcliffe, 38, Great Britain: is currently the world record holder for a marathon, as well as a three-time winner of the London Marathon, two-time New York Marathon champion, and won the 2002 Chicago Marathon. However, she has yet to win a medal on the Olympic stage. She is married to her coach, Gary Lough.
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Matthew Micham, 24, Australia: Mitcham is a 2008 Olympic gold medalist and the first Australian to win a gold medal in diving since 1924. Mitcham is one of the few openly gay Olympic athletes, and Johnson & Johnson’s Athlete Family Support Program sponsored Mitcham’s boyfriend, Lachlan Fletcher, to attend the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a spectator.
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Rebecca Adlington, 23, Great Britain: is a freestyle swimmer who won two gold medals at the 2008 Olympics, beating the 19-year-old world record set by Janet Evans in the 800m race. In 2008 she was also named Sports Journalists' Association of Great Britain's Sportswoman of the Year.
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Drew Ginn, 37, Australia: Ginn is an Australian coxless and three-time gold medalist. His first Olympic gold was won in 1996, and he planned to return in 2000 but a back injury kept him out of the boat. Following two consecutive gold medal titles in Athens in 2004 and in Beijing in 2008, he decided to dabble with cycling but he'll be back in the water this year.
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Ryan Lochte, 27, U.S.: is a six-time Olympic medalist who specializes in the backstroke and individual medley. Lochte has won the World Swimmer of the Year Award and the American Swimmer of the Year Award twice.
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Carmelita Jeter, 32, USA: Carmelita Jeter is storming back after failing to qualify for the 2008 Beijing games. Known as the second fastest woman in the 100m sprint, Jeter holds three of the top 10 times for that heat. Recently, Jeter won the 100m event during the 2012 Track and Field trials and punched her ticket to London.
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Allyson Felix, 26, USA: Allyson Felix is one of the world's premiere runners right now. She won the silver medal in the 200m race at Athens when she was only 18 years old and repeated the feat in Beijing.
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Stephanie Rice, 24, Australia: Stephanie Rice has won more gold medals before the age of 24 than most Olympians. Rice struck gold in Beijing, winning in three events but hasn't won since due to a shoulder injury. Rice looks to come back to form in London.
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Tyson Gay, 30, USA: Before Usain Bolt broke the world record in the men's 100m sprint, Tyson Gay held the record. Despite being one of the most decorated runners in history, winning gold three times in the World Outdoor Championships, Gay has never won an Olympic event. He works to add the Olympic gold to his long list of accomplishments.
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Ryan Hall, 29, USA: Ryan Hall is one of the nation's most promising marathon runners. Hall is the first American runner to break the one-hour barrier in the half marathon and has posted the fastest marathon time ever by an American during the Boston Marathon. Coming in second at the 2012 U.S. trials, Hall will try to make Olympic gold a part of his resume.
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Missy Franklin, 17, USA: Not only did Missy Franklin make the Olympic team for the first time, she broke the American record during the 2012 U.S. Swim Trials.
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Rebecca Soni, 25, USA: Rebecca Soni is no stranger to success when it comes to the international stage. Soni is a three-time medalist at the Olympics and holds the world record for the 100m and the 200m breast stroke (short course).
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Terrence Jones, 25, USA: Terrence Jones made news when he defeated the reigning Olympic sliver medalist Mark Lopez during trials. This earned Jones a spot on the U.S. team.
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Sara Khoshjamal Fekri, 24, Iran : Sara Khoshjamal Fekri has a special place in Iranian history. She is the first Iranian woman to qualify and compete in the Olympics for tae kwon do. She looks to compete for a spot on the podium in London.
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