Get to know ten of the world's most fabulous sports stars

Jul 26, 2012
Neil Clark

You may not know their names now, but if you see them in action in London you'll never forget them

WE ALL know to watch out for Michael Phelps in the pool and Usain Bolt on the track over the next two weeks. But there will be other great performers in action who are less well known.

The following ten are among the greatest sporting performers of all time in their disciplines - if not the greatest. And they're all competing at the London Olympics.

NATASA JANICS-DOUCHEV. Hungary. Sprint canoe.
A winner of two Olympic golds in 2004, and a gold and a silver in 2008, the brilliant sprint canoeist is the favourite to land the K1 (Kayak single) 200m event at the London Olympics. The 30-year-old has also won 18 World Championship golds and earlier this year won gold in the K1 200m at the 2012 European Championships. Originally from Yugoslavia, Janics-Douchev has twice been named Hungarian Sportswoman of the Year.

EVGENIA KANAEVA. Russia. Rhythmic gymnastics.
Undoubtedly the greatest rhythmic gymnast in history, the photogenic 22-year-old from Omsk has taken part in 29 major competitions since 2005 and won gold in 28 of them. BBC gymnastics analyst Christine Still says: "She is about as certain a gold medallist as you are going to get".

DAVID RUDISHA. Kenya. 800m athletics.
Probably the most dominant athlete at one particular distance in the world today, the 23-year-old won a junior gold at the Beijing Olympics and gold at the 2010 African Championships. He's responsible for five of the fastest ten times at 800m in history, including the current world record of 1:41.01.
QIU BO. China. Diving, 10m.
The 19-year-old world number one received a sensational 25 perfect 10s from the judges when he won last year's world championships, earning him the nickname Mr Full Mark. "The biggest challenge is from myself to beat myself," he said in an interview earlier this year. "The aim is to win everything."

SAORI YOSHIDA. Japan. Women's wrestling, 55kg.
The 29-year-old (pictured above), who took up wrestling at the age of three, has been described by the BBC as "arguably the most dominant athlete in any sport". She has won every major world and international level tournament she has entered in the past ten years, a record which includes golds at both the Athens and Beijing Olympics. Yoshida will be carrying the flag for her country at Friday's opening ceremony.

ANASTASIA DAVYDOVA. Russia. Synchronised swimming.
Her duet partner at the 2004 and 2008 Games, Anastasia Ermakova, has retired, but the 29-year-old from Moscow will be going for a fifth Olympic gold in London in the team event. Davydova won three golds at the 2011 World Championships and in 2010 was named the 'Best of the Decade' in synchronised swimming by the sport's governing body FINA.

The 24-year-old from Oregon has been described as "looking more like a comic book superhero than a track and field athlete". Only last month he broke the 11-year world decathlon record after scoring 9,039 points - finishing 656 points clear of Trey Hardee, the defending world champion. Eaton also holds the heptathlon world record, winning gold at the world indoor championships at Istanbul earlier this year.

The golden girls of Romanian sport, 'Geta and Suzi', are going for their third consecutive Olympic gold together in the coxless pairs. Andrunache (nee Damian) also won the coxless pairs at the 2000 Olympics with another partner. Altogether the two women have nine Olympic golds between them. Their world record time of 6:53.80, set in Seville in 2002, remains unbeaten to this day.

The only man in history to hold the Olympics, World and European javelin titles at the same time, the 30-year-old from Kristiansand will be going for his third successive Olympic gold in London. When winning gold in Beijing, the man described by the New York Times as 'The Nordic God of the Javelin' led the competition from his very first throw and set a new Olympic record of 90.57m.

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