Summer Olympic World Records: Best Performances in Each Event

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Summer Olympic World Records: Best Performances in Each Event
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Medals aren't the only prize up for grabs at the 2012 London Olympics. Every Summer Games presents an opportunity for the world's greatest athletes to measure themselves up against their predecessors by pursuing Olympic records.

During the 2008 Games in Beijing, we witnessed Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt assault the record books with all-time performances that etched their places in the pantheon of Olympic greats. More records are sure to fall in London, where the globe's elite competitors are busy hunting down gold-medal glory and a shot at Olympic immortality. 

Some records fall more frequently than others. All but one women's Olympic swimming record was bested in Beijing, while American Bob Beamon's record long jump performance at the 1968 Mexico City Games continues to serve as a benchmark in Olympic competition nearly a half-century after the legendary leap.

Olympic records provide an additional challenge for those looking to make an indelible impact on the Summer Games. From Phelps to Flo Jo, stars emerge at every Olympics.

As we wonder who might steal the spotlight in London, here's a look at heralded records that many athletes are chasing.

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