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Olympics 2012: Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Yelena Isinbayeva Among Olympians To Watch In London

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Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva makes an attempt in the Women's Pole Vault final at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011.
Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva makes an attempt in the Women's Pole Vault final at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011.

Before the modern Olympic Games began in Greece in 1896, being referred to as an "Olympian" had an entirely different meaning. In Greek Mythology, the Olympians were the gods residing atop Mount Olympus.

While the mighty men and women competing at the London Olympics won't likely be hurling thunderbolts like Zeus -- although those throwing the javelin may disagree -- it's hard to argue that an astounding performance can't raise someone to mythic status.

Just ask Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt about the attention they got after the 2008 Beijing Games. Or Nadia Comaneci about that perfect 10 in 1976 or the Dream Team about that trip to Barcelona.

Who will be the "Michael Phelps"of the London Games? Swimming in seven events, Phelps certainly hopes that it's him. His teammate on the U.S. Swim Team, Ryan Lochte, has his own ideas and has proven quite capable of besting his decorated countryman. On the track, Bolt has no intention of ceding the spotlight to his speedy teammate Yohan Blake, nicknamed "the Beast." Such rivalries may very well produce some of the most compelling moments of the games but these are hardly the only dynamic athletes to keep an eye on.

From Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and Chinese badminton star Lin Dan to LeBron James and Kobe Bryant on the U.S. basketball team, the 2012 London Olympics features some of the most talented athletes in the history of these Olympic disciplines.

Here are several of the Olympians primed to deliver unbelievable performances in London. Keep an eye on this group and you'll likely catch many of the Games' most memorable moments. But what unheralded athletes will step up and join this select crowd?

Let us know which Olympians from this group you're looking most forward to watching and who you think will step forward and join them.

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CORRECTION: A previous version misstated Ryan Lochte's event information.

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