By Steven Hamilton
Anticipation is building as the 2012 London Olympics draw near. While everyone has their favorite hometown heroes to root for, there are also dozens of other amazing competitors that every fan should keep an eye on. Watch out for these athletes once the Games get underway on July 27.
Michael Phelps (USA)
No list of must-see athletes would be complete without Phelps. He’s a 14-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the top athletes in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. People are expecting big things from Phelps once again this year.
Ekaterina Gamova (Russia)
Standing six foot, eight inches tall, she’s one of the tallest female athletes in the world and also one of the highest paid female volleyball players. She helped her team win gold at the 2006 and 2010 FIVB Volleyball World Championships.
Rafael Nadal (Spain)
This tennis player was dominant in 2009 and in 2008, when he became the first left-hander to finish No. 1 since 1984. He is currently ranked No. 2 in the world, and won four grand slam titles in 2010.
Kerri Walsh and Misty May Treanor (USA)
Both these amazing volleyball players took home gold at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. May-Treanor has won more tournaments than any other female player.
Venus Williams (US)
One of the best-known names in tennis, Williams is a three-time gold medalist winning in singles in 2000 and doubles with her sister in 2000 and 2008. She might add more medals to her resume this year.
Anna Meares (Australia)
She’s been breaking cycling records since age 20 and won gold at the 2004 Olympics. She set a new world record in the Women’s 500m time trial that year. Expect big things from her in 2012.
Kohei Uchimura (Japan)
He made history in 2011 as the first gymnast to win three consecutive all-around world titles. His versatility makes him a favorite to win in 2012.
Timo Boll (Germany)
A trainer realized Boll’s talent when he was only eight. Since then, he’s become No.1 in the German Table Tennis National League and No. 6 in world rankings.
Usain Bolt (Jamaica)
No one is faster than Bolt. At least not yet. He’s a five-time World and three-time Olympic gold medalist, and currently holds the record for the 100 and 200 meter races.
Lobke Berkhout (Netherlands)
He’s the most successful sailor in the two-person dinghy 470-class, with five world championships. Berkhout hopes to secure gold this year after taking home silver in 2008.
Steven Lopez (USA)
The first Taekwondo fighter to win five world championships, Lopez is also a two-time Olympic medal winner. He’s expected to be dominant in London.
Marta Vieira da Silva (Brazil) Although she has yet to win gold, the soccer star was voted FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year five years in a row.
Im Dong-Hyun (South Korea)
He’s almost legally blind but is considered by many to be one of the best archers in the world. This year he’ll be going for his third Olympic gold medal.
Christopher Hoy (Scotland)
This track cyclist has captured numerous world championships and Olympic gold medals. Fans are expecting no less from him in London.
Peter Joppich (Germany)
Considered one of the best foil fencers in the world, Joppich won his first world championship at just 21. He’ll be eyeing the gold medal this year.
About the Author:
Steven Hamilton frequently writes and reviews sports apparel, especially competitive swimwear, swim gear, and other swimming related products. When he’s not writing or working, he can often be found sharpening his own swimming skills.