Britain's Chris Hoy (L) reacts after winning gold over Germany's Maximilian Levy in Melbourne April 8, 2012. Winner of three gold medals in Beijing, the British track cyclist is one of the host nation's top hopes for glory in the spectacular new velodrome. The Scot was knighted Sir Chris by Queen Elizabeth II in 2009 and could become Britain's most decorated Olympian. The “Real McHoy” is expected to compete in the keirin and the team sprint, and possibly the individual sprint. With a career total of four gold medals and a silver, Hoy could eclipse rowing great Steve Redgrave's British record of five golds and a bronze.
(DANIEL MUNOZ/DANIEL MUNOZ/REUTERS)
Lin Dan of China returns a shot against Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, March 11, 2012. Widely considered the greatest badminton player of all time, China's “Super Dan” is a four-time world champion, five-time All England winner and the reigning Olympic gold medallist . Standing in the 29-year-old Lin's quest for a second Olympic title will be his main rival, Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia. The competition will be at Wembley Arena. Get ready for a dose of, you guessed it, “Lin-Danity.”
(DARREN STAPLES/DARREN STAPLES/REUTERS)
Usain Bolt of Jamaica (R) runs past Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 16, 2008. Surprise, surprise. Any talk of the Olympics has to start with the flashy Jamaican sprinter. His performance in Beijing four years ago was magical — gold medals and world records in the 100 metres, 200 metres and sprint relay. Sure, Bolt hasn't been as supernatural for the past couple of years, but expect him to peak just in time for the big show in London. There's no reason he can't win another three golds, though world records may be too much to ask. His toughest competition in the 100 and 200 is likely to come from countryman Yohan Blake.
(DYLAN MARTINEZ/DYLAN MARTINEZ/REUTERS)
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant points to crowd after a dunk in Portland, Oregon, March 27, 2012. It's hard to single out any single player from the star-studded U.S. basketball team. Kobe, LeBron and D-Wade are back from the group that won the 2008 gold medal. So this will be the chance for Oklahoma City Thunder forward Durant to show his Olympic credentials. KD led the U.S. to gold at the 2010 world championship, but the Olympic title is what really matters. Durant, a two-time NBA scoring leader, is averaging nearly 28 points per game this season and should be a key in the lineup for London.
(STEVE DIPAOLA/STEVE DIPAOLA/REUTERS)
Hiroshi Hoketsu exercises at a horse riding center in Aachen, western Germany, Tuesday, March 6, 2012.At the age of 71, the Japanese equestrian rider will be the oldest competitor in London. Hoketsu has qualified for the individual dressage, riding a 15-year-old mare called Whisper. He competed in his first Olympics in 1964 when he was 23. Hoketsu was 67 when he competed in Beijing, finishing ninth in the team event and 35th in the individual competition. He still won't break the record as the oldest Olympian ever. That distinction belongs to Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who was 72 when he won a silver medal at the 1920 Antwerp Games.
(Martin Meissner/Martin Meissner/AP)
Neymar (L) of Brazil's Santos tries to block Sandro Silva in Porto Alegre April 4, 2012. Argentina failed to qualify for the Olympic football competition, meaning Lionel Messi won't be coming. But Brazil did qualify and Neymar is the player to watch. “The Prince” is a prolific goal-scoring striker for Santos, the Brazilian club which Pele, “The King,” made famous in the 1960s. The 20-year-old Neymar has already scored nearly 100 goals for Santos in less than three seasons. Pele recently called Neymar the best player in the world — better than 3-time FIFA player of the year Messi. The Olympic title is the only significant football competition Brazil has yet to win.
Michael Phelps during the 14th FINA World Championships, in Shanghai, China, July 27, 2011. After winning a record eight gold medals in Beijing, the 26-year-old American is back for his final big splash before retirement. With a career total of 16 medals, Phelps needs just three more of any colour to become the most decorated Olympian in any sport. He's called his results over the past three years “horrendous” but he was back in top form at last month's Indianapolis meet. U.S. teammate Ryan Lochte, who won five golds at the 2011 worlds, is Phelps' top rival.
(OSports-US PRESSWIRE/US PRESSWIRE)
Oscar Pistorius is seen at the start of the men's 400 meters race in Rome's Olympic stadium, Friday, July 11, 2008. The South African double amputee, who runs on carbon-fiber blades, is looking to make history by becoming the first amputee runner to compete in an Olympics. The “Blade Runner” has already gone under the 400-meter Olympic qualifying time of 45.30 seconds and needs to do it once more at an international meet to be eligible for Olympic selection. Pistorius also plans to run in able-bodied IAAF events in Europe and the U.S. ahead of the Olympics. He'll compete in the Paralympics, too.
(ANDREW MEDICHINI/ANDREW MEDICHINI/AP)
U.S. beach volleyball players Kerri Walsh (R), 33, and her partner Misty May, 34, train for the London 2012 Olympics in Manhattan Beach, California, April 9, 2012. Beach volleyball will be one of the main attractions in London, with the competition taking place at a temporary venue in Horse Guards Parade, a stone's throw from Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. No one will be more in the spotlight than Walsh and May-Treanor, who won gold medals in Athens and Beijing and are favourites for a third title in London. And, yes, the Americans will still be wearing the standard bikini uniforms — not the more modest attire approved recently by the International Volleyball Federation.
(LUCY NICHOLSON/LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS)
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