What to Watch: Olympics 2012

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With the 2012 Olympics fast approaching, America's fastest and strongest athletes are ready to go for gold in London. In Beijing in 2008, Team USA topped the international competition with 110 medals, the most taken home by any country in the Games. This year, returning champions and bright-eyed rising stars make up a team that will bring fierce competition to the international stage. Here are some of the men and women to look out for: Men's Swimming Fan favorite Michael Phelps returns for what may be his last Olympic cycle to compete in five events. Phelps collected eight medals in the 2004 games in Athens and another eight in Beijing, winning more individual medals than any other athlete at both games. He holds the records for most gold medals won at a single Games (eight) and highest total gold medals won by a single athlete (14). At 16 individual medals overall, Phelps is just three away from breaking Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's record for the most individual Olympic medals of any athlete in history. Women's Swimming Missy Franklin, 17, qualified for her first Olympics this year. Though she's new to the Games, Franklin has entered the swimming world with a splash; at the 2012 Olympic trials, she broke Team USA veteran Natalie Coughlin's American record in the 100-meter backstroke. She took her first five international medals home in the 2011 World Championships, competing alongside Coughlin, and broke two world records in 2011. Men's Track & Field Jamaica's Usain Bolt, five-time world champion and three-time Olympic gold medalist, is considered easily the fastest man in the world. He currently holds the international records for both the 100-meter and 200-meter races. Before Bolt, the U.S.'s own Tyson Gay held the 100-meter sprint title. Gay, with three world golds under his belt, has one of the most decorated records in running history but has yet to medal at an Olympic Games. He'll be looking to change that this summer when he faces Bolt. Women's Track & Field Carmelita Jeter, a sprinter who specializes in the 100-meter dash, is the second-fastest woman to ever compete in the event, topping Marion Jones' best time and nearing the all-time world record held by Florence Griffith-Joyner since 1987. Jeter currently holds three of the 10 best times in history run by a female athlete in the 100-meter race. At the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, Jeter finished first in the event and will head to London this summer to go for the gold. Men's Wrestling Jordan Burroughs, a freestyle wrestler from New Jersey, boasts a competition record that speaks for itself: the up-and-comer has won every tournament he has entered in the last three years. Claiming the top spot in the 2011 World Championships, the 2011 Pan American games and the 2011 NCAA Championship, Burroughs became the fourth wrestler in history to win both the world and NCAA titles in a single year. Women's Beach Volleyball Many in the sports world have deemed dynamic duo Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor the greatest beach volleyball team of all time. The pair competed together in the 2004 and 2008 summer Olympics, taking home the gold both times. May-Treanor is also the most successful current women's beach volleyball player in the world, holding 110 individual championship wins in national and international competitions. Women's Tennis Superstar sisters Serena and Venus Williams will compete alongside each other after a strong year in competition. Both women have held the title of No. 1 female tennis player in the world several times in the last 10 years and have continued to dominate international tournaments, including this month's Wimbledon. Men's Basketball The Miami Heat's LeBron James has been the center of attention in the world of men's basketball since he became the No. 1 NBA draft pick in 2003 at age 18. In 2008, the guard/forward helped lead Team USA to victory, securing the team gold in the Beijing summer Games. The American basketball legend will aim for a repeat show this year in London. Women's Soccer 31-year-old Abby Wambach led the U.S. women's soccer team to a gold medal victory in Athens 2004, but missed the opportunity to compete in Beijing four years later due to a leg injury. Having come back strong in 2011 to compete in her third FIFA Women's World Cup, scoring 13 goals to become the U.S.'s lead scorer in the tournament, Wambach will get another shot in London this summer. Read More About the Summer Olympics! [An Olympic Love Story](http://nypress.com/?p=51520) [Greg Louganis Q&A](http://nypress.com/?p=51518) [Olympic Sprinters Trained in Central Park](http://nypress.com/?p=51516)

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