Every four years, the United States brings together its best and brightest to represent America on the world's biggest stage, the Olympics.
This year for the London Games, the U.S. will once again be well represented. While the majority of its athletes come from the swimming and track and field events, the U.S. is also represented in all team sports with the exception of men's soccer.
Over 500 athletes will be representing the U.S. in most of the various Olympic disciplines. Out of those athletes, the U.S. is expecting around 100 to medal, not including all of the athletes to receive medals if the U.S. wins in, say, basketball or women's soccer.
Out of these athletes, each sport boasts favorites. Not every U.S. athlete will win the gold, but there are top competitors to watch in all of the sports, even if a podium finish is not in the immediate future.
Out of these 500-plus athletes, here are the top competitors to follow in every event, in every discipline, both male and female. Some are medal hopefuls, others are locks to be on the podium and some still are just the best the U.S. has to offer. Regardless, they will all be wearing the red, white and blue, and that alone gives us reason to cheer them on.
Time to get to know just a handful of what Team USA has to offer in London!
The 23-year-old Brady Ellison will be making his second Olympic team. In 2008, he lost to Canadian Jay Lyon in the second round.
Ellison is the best archer from the U.S. and is the current bronze medalist from the 2011 World Championships. He is also the current gold medalist from the Pan American Games and World Indoor Archery Championships and the three-time defending champion of the Archery World Cup.
Coming into the London Games, Ellison is the No. 1-ranked archer in the world, a title he has held since the summer of 2010. He will be representing the U.S. in both the individual and team events.
When the London Olympics begin, Khatuna Lorig will be 38 years old and participating in her fifth Olympic Games, second for the U.S. She will also be her country's best-ranked female archer.
Lorig, who spent the offseason teaching Jennifer Lawrence archery in preparation for her role in The Hunger Games, is in current possession of one Olympic team medal, a bronze. Her best individual result is fifth.
In addition to helping lead the U.S. team to a silver at the 2011 Pan American Games, Lorig is also a two-time National Target Champion. She will be representing the U.S. in both the team and individual events.
Tony Gunawan is one of the most versatile men's doubles players of all time.
Formerly playing for Indonesia, he won the 2000 Olympic gold medal as well as the 2001 and 2005 World Championships, all with different partners. In 2005, Gunawan represented the U.S. with partner Howard Bach, and they became the first team to ever win a world championship gold for the U.S. in badminton.
Gunawan became a U.S. citizen in 2011, making him eligible to represent the U.S. in the Olympics, where he will once again team with Bach in hopes of bringing the U.S. its first Olympic gold in badminton.
Twenty-year-old Rena Wang will be making her Olympic debut and will be the lone female representing the U.S. qualified to participate in the singles competition, Wang is coming off a strong performance at the 2011 Peru International Badminton Championships where she won the gold in the women's singles event.
Although she will not be participating in women's doubles, Wang and her sister Iris, who is her doubles partner, took home the silver medal at the Pan American Games.
Representing the U.S. for his third consecutive Olympics, LeBron James will have an increased role on this team as he hopes to captain it to another gold medal.
In Beijing, James was one of three captains posed with the challenge of avenging the bronze-medal finish in 2004. Up to the task, he led the "Redeem Team" to the gold medal.
So far in the exhibition games against the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Great Britain and Argentina, James has once again been looked to for minutes, scoring and leadership. The 2012 NBA champion and NBA Finals MVP has given the U.S. a much-needed boost during these games.
With a bit of an injury-plagued roster, James will be looked to during the Games to come in and help the U.S. if it ever falls into trouble.
He is an eight-time NBA All-Star, three-time MVP and 2008 scoring champion. He was the No. 1 pick out of high school, and on a team of superstars, he truly is the best player on the squad.
An alum of the best women's college basketball team of all time at UConn, Maya Moore, now a WNBA champion, has her sights set on yet another accolade: an Olympic gold medal.
The 23-year-old Moore has already accomplished so much in her young career. A star at UConn, Moore helped the team win back-to-back national championships in the midst of their record-breaking undefeated run of 90 straight wins.
In 2009 Moore was the Big East Player of the Year, and in 2010 she was an instrumental part of UConn's second national championship. As a result she was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
In her first season in the WNBA, Moore, the first overall pick, helped lead the Minnesota Lynx to their first-ever championship, making her the first No. 1 pick to do so. As a result of her strong season, she was named Rookie of the Year, along with making the All-Star team earlier in the campaign.
Although Moore will only be making her Olympic debut, she has already shown that she can mature in a short amount of time. Reunited with her college coach Geno Auriemma, Moore will no doubt have a successful Olympic run and help her team to its fifth consecutive Olympic gold and seventh in eight tries.
Even though this is about the best U.S. athlete from each sport, it was kind of hard to separate this dynamic duo. After all, what is one without the other?
Before their partnership in 2006, Dalhausser and Rogers were just two mediocre beach volleyball players. Since then, however, they have been one of the most dominant duos beach volleyball has ever seen.
In 2007, they became the first-ever U.S. men's beach volleyball team to win the FIVB World Championships, and in 2008 they joined fellow Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh atop the podium in Beijing, making it the first time any country won gold in both events at one Olympics.
Both players have earned multiple awards and accolades over the years, and they have formed one of the top beach volleyball teams ever since their partnership. Entering into the London Olympics, they will be looking to repeat as gold medalists, doing something that no men's beach volleyball team has ever done.
When the 2004 Athens Olympics began, Misty May and Kerri Walsh were four years into a partnership that began shortly after the 2000 Sydney Olympics. May finished fifth in the beach volleyball competition, and Walsh was a member of the U.S. team that finished in fourth in the indoor volleyball competition.
Both had the Olympic experience, and both were looking to defend their 2003 World Championships gold medal.
Four years later in Beijing, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings were defending their gold medal and were in the midst of one of the most dominant winning streaks in all of sports. They cruised through the Olympics, not dropping a single set, and became the first beach volleyball team, men or women, to win back-to-back gold medals.
In London, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings will be looking for an unprecedented third gold medal in a sport that they helped to put on the map. For the U.S., they are the second-ranked team, but that doesn't mean they will go down without a fight.
This year, the U.S. is sending nine men to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games, second only to Australia's 10. Of all of these boxers, one name, Rau'shee Warren, stands out as the best hope for America to take home the gold medal.
Warren is the first U.S. male boxer to compete in three Olympics. In 2004, he was the youngest male athlete for Team USA at just 17 years old. He is the 2007 World Champion, four-time national champion and 2012 Olympic Trials champion. He will be representing the U.S. in the men's flyweight division.
Marlen Esparza began boxing in 2002 and has always had incredible speed and smarts in the ring. She is the current national champion, a title she has held for six consecutive years. She was also the bronze medalist at the 2006 World Championships and gold medalist at the 2008 Pan American Games.
Making her Olympic debut, Esparza will represent the U.S. in the women's flyweight division.
Entering his third Olympic Games, Scott Parsons is hoping that the third time is the charm. Parsons finished in sixth in Athens in 2004 and then in Beijing was in line to win a medal. It was a crucial error, however, that knocked him from medal contention, making it yet another near miss.
He finished seventh in the 2007 World Championships the year prior and in 2004 was named the men's Canoe/Kayak Athlete of the Year. In a competitive discipline in the U.S., Parsons won the U.S. Olympic Trials and will head into London in search of a much-coveted medal. He will represent the U.S. in men's K-1.
A sophomore in college, Queen will be just 20 years old when the Olympics begin. She is making her Olympic debut and is the sole competitor for the U.S. in women's kayak.
Her career highlights include second in the 2010 national championships, first in the 2011 national championships and second in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. She will be representing the U.S. in women's K-1.
Taylor Phinney, the son of two Olympic medalists, will be participating in his second Olympics. After finishing seventh on the track at Beijing, Phinney will now be contesting the road race. After a strong season that included wearing the pink leader's jersey for the prologue stage of the Giro d'Italia, Phinney is the best U.S. cyclist on the road.
At only 22 years old, Phinney's rise has just begun, and in London he will look to make a name for himself. He will be representing the U.S. in both the mass start road race and the time trial.
David Herman burst onto the BMX scene in 2007. Narrowly missing out on qualifying for the 2008 Olympics, Herman has had solid results ever since. He is considered one of the fastest starters in the world, which has often helped him get the hole shot.
After a disappointing 22nd-place finish at the 2011 World Championships, Herman had a fifth-place finish at an Olympic test event, a third-place finish at a World Cup event and a fifth-place finish at the 2012 World Championships.
Ready to make his Olympic debut, Herman is coming off his best season and is primed to reach the podium. Herman will be representing the U.S. in the BMX event.
Kristin Armstrong will be headed to her third Olympics in 2012. She is the defending gold medalist from the road event in Beijing and looks poised to defend her title.
Armstrong is one of only two U.S. cyclists to medal three times at the UCI Road World Championships. This season she has been absolutely dominant, winning all eight of the time trials she has entered. She will be representing the U.S. in both the mass road race and individual time trial.
Sarah Hammer is part of a U.S. team that will try to medal in the team pursuit on the track. She is preparing for her second Olympics and looking to best her fifth-place finish from the Beijing Games.
Hammer is a four-time champion at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships, the most recent of which came in 2011. She is also the world record holder in the 3000-meter individual pursuit. She will be representing the U.S. in both the women's omnium and team pursuit track events.
Although David Boudia is only 23 years old, he has already been a U.S. national champion 16 times, including the 2010 National Championships and three times the Winter National Championships.
Internationally, Boudia has also seen success, as he was the silver medalist in the synchronized event at the 2009 World Championships and silver medalist in the 10M Platform at the 2011 World Championships, making him the first American to land on the podium since 1986.
Winner of the 2012 Olympic Trials, Boudia is America's best hope for a diving medal in a sport that is dominated by the Chinese. He will be representing the U.S. in both the men's 10-meter platform and synchronized 10-meter platform event with partner Nick McCrory.
After winning the 2008 U.S. Diving Team Trials, Christina Loukas took a disappointing ninth place at the 2008 Summer Olympics in the women's springboard. Now, however, Loukas has upped her game for London.
Currently she ranks No. 4 in the world for the springboard and has been on the U.S. national diving squad every year except one since 2005 (2010). At age 26 Loukas certainly has time to make a few more Olympic appearances, so this time around don't expect her to feel the pressure.
The Beijing Games did get the best of her, but she has since become a lot more consistent on both the national and international level. Therefore, anticipate Loukas competing not just for a medal, but the gold medal in 2012.
Coming into the Olympics, the U.S. Equestrian Team is very strong and is expected to contend for medals in all three events. In the team show-jumping event, they will be going for a third consecutive medal after winning in both Athens and Beijing.
Leading the team will once again be McLain Ward. Ward, who recently recovered from a broken kneecap, is one of the most decorated riders in the U.S. He will be seeking his third gold in 2012 and representing the U.S. in both the individual and team show-jumping events.
Coming off a strong 2011 season in which she had three Grand Prix victories, Adrienne Lyle offers the U.S. a strong shot at medaling in the dressage event. She is making her Olympic debut and is coached by one of the winners of the 2004 Olympic bronze medal in dressage.
Lyle and her horse Wizard will be representing the U.S. in the individual dressage event.
Men's Foil Team
Although the U.S. boasts a handful of strong athletes as the only country to qualify a full 16 participants, there is no individual athlete with a chance to win a gold medal as strong as the men's foil team.
On the team is 17-year-old Alexander Massialas, a Division I National Champion and two-time bronze medalist in Senior World Cups; 19-year-old Race Imboden, who finished eighth in the Senior World Championships; and Miles Chamley-Watson, a former world No. 2. All of these athletes have placed in the top five on the world senior circuit and look poised to take home a medal in London.
Ever since women's sabre fencing made its Olympic debut in 2004, Mariel Zagunis has won each gold medal. After somewhat of an improbable defense of her gold medal in Beijing, Zagunis will be looking to three-peat in London.
Winner of the 2009 and 2010 World Championship, Zagunis has also placed atop the podium for the team event five times. Currently, Zagunis is the No. 1 women's fencer in the world, having medaled in all but one event she participated in this year.
Although there will be no women's team event in sabre this year, Zagunis will be representing the U.S. in the women's individual sabre event in search of her third gold medal.
Lauren Crandall is one of seven athletes on the women's team that is a returning participant. After finishing a disappointing seventh in the 2008 Beijing Games, Crandall and her teammates will be striving for a medal.
As captain, Crandall has a great responsibility as a leader to this team. So far, her captaining has paid off as the U.S. mounted a titanic upset over No. 1 Argentina to win the Pan American Games, qualifying them for the 2012 Olympics. A former college standout, Crandall is now focused on bringing the U.S. an Olympic medal.
John Orozco is a true rags-to-riches story. Born and raised in the South Bronx, Orozco saw his gymnastics dream fulfilled as he won the all-around gold medal at the 2012 National Championships and finished second at the U.S. Trials, earning him an automatic bid to the Olympic Games.
Orozco will be leading a men's team that is determined to make it on the podium. After he helped the team to a bronze-medal finish at the World Championships, Orozco also finished fifth in the all-around.
Coming into the Olympics, he is one of the top U.S. gymnasts and one of its medal favorites. Orozco will be representing the U.S. in both the team competition and the individual disciplines.
Jordyn Wieber is one of the top gymnasts on the U.S. squad and one that could medal in the individual all-around. She was selected to the team after a stellar Olympic Trials performance and after a strong season around the circuit.
She helped lead the U.S. team to a first-place victory at worlds and will lead them into the Olympics as the gold-medal favorites. Wieber's individual accolades include two all-around national championships and the 2011 all-around world championship. She will be representing the U.S. in both the team competition and the individual disciplines.
After a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Beijing Games, Travis Stevens is hoping to place on the podium this time around. His first breakthrough win came in 2006 when he recorded an upset win to take the U.S. Open, a prestigious event in the sport. He continued to have success, including a bronze at the British Open.
Since the 2008 Olympics, Stevens has become an international player to watch, netting multiple international and Pan Am medals. In 2010 he won his first national championship, and in 2011 he received the silver medal at the Pan American Games.
Stevens will be representing the U.S. in the men's half middleweight division.
Kayla Harrison has been a name to follow in the U.S. ever since 2008. Despite America not qualifying for her division, Harrison continued to make a name for herself, eventually winning competitions on the international circuit.
In 2010, Harrison had a breakthrough year. She won her first U.S. national championship and later that year also won her first world championship.
Preparing to make her Olympic debut, Harrison is poised to make a strong run at a medal. She is currently the No. 1-ranked U.S. female judoka and No. 4 female judoka in the world. Harrison will be representing the U.S. in the women's half heavyweight division.
Dennis Bowsher is the lone qualifier for the men in the pentathlon. He is currently ranked in the top 50 in the world and finished the 2011 season as the second-ranked athlete from the U.S. He is the four-time defending gold medalist in the National Championships and came in fourth at the 2011 Pan Am Games.
Other career accomplishments include a World Cup silver medal a U.S. Open gold medal and a bronze at the Pan Am Championships.
Just like Bowsher, Margaux Isaksen will be the lone representative from the U.S. on the women's side. She is currently ranked 25th in the world.
At just 21 years old, Isaksen quickly made a name for herself on the national stage. She was the 2011 No. 1 nationally ranked player and finished the 2011 season as 24th in the World Cup rankings. She represented the U.S. at the Beijing Games and has won several world events since then.
In 2010 she received a silver medal at the Pan Am Championships, and in 2011 she earned the gold at the Pan Am Games.
Having attended Yale for his undergrad education and Oxford for his graduate degree, Charlie Cole knows what it is like to be part of a great rowing tradition. A member of the National Team now for three years, Cole will be making his Olympic debut as he leads the boat of the men's four.
His career accomplishments include fourth at the 2011 World Rowing Championships, gold at the 2008 U-23 World Rowing Championships and medal finishes at several World Cup events. He was also named the 2011 Rower of the Year for the U.S.
Mary Whipple is one of the best rowers on the women's team. Currently rowing in the eights, Whipple goes into London seeking to defend the gold that she helped anchor her team to in Beijing. This gold came after a silver at the Athens Games.
With her team, Whipple has had several international podium finishes, including back-to-back golds in the 2006 and 2007 World Championships. She was also the U.S. national champion in 2007.
Zach Railey is one of the members of the U.S. team with Olympic experience. In 2008, he won the silver medal in the Finn event.
Qualifying again for the London Games, Railey gives the U.S. a great chance for a medal. He has been named U.S. Sailing's Sportsman of the year three times. In London, Railey will look to defend his silver and, with a strong race, could perhaps even take home a gold. Railey will be representing the U.S. in the Men's Finn event.
A former Olympian, Anna Tunnicliffe has been the face of U.S. sailing ever since 2008. She made her debut at the Beijing Games and won the gold medal in the Laser Radial event. She is currently the No. 1-ranked Laser Radial sailor in the world and has won several championships and medals from this position.
For the London Games, however, Tunnicliffe will be representing the U.S. in match racing in the Elliott six-meter event. She is the skipper of her team, which won gold at the 2011 World Sailing Championships.
She was the first woman to win U.S. Sailing's Yachtswoman of the Year Award in consecutive years and is also a two-time World Sailor of the Year.
On a U.S. team that boasts a handful of medal hopefuls, Matt Emmons is the clear favorite to take home another gold. The two-time Olympian will be in his third Games and looking for his third medal. He won gold in Athens in 2004 and then had a disappointing finish to net him silver at the Beijing Games.
He was a four-time NCAA national champion and in 2007 was named USA Shooting's Male Athlete of the Year. Despite his Olympic success, Emmons has also had a number of close misses, costing him medals in the 50-meter rifled event.
He will be in position to take home a handful of medals at the London Games as long as he does not let the pressure get to him. Emmons will be representing the U.S. in the men's 10-meter air rifle and the 50-meter rifle 3 position.
Kim Rhode has no shortage of Olympic experience and Olympic medals. She has participated in the last four games and has medaled in each of them. She was the 1996 and 2004 gold-medal winner in the double trap event and is currently defending a silver from Beijing.
In addition to her Olympic success, Rhode is also a three-time national champion and USA Shooting Female Athlete of the Year. Internationally, she has gold medals from the 2010 World Championships and 2011 Pan American Games.
Looking to medal again, Rhode would become the first U.S. athlete to ever medal in five consecutive Olympic Games. She will be representing the U.S. in both skeet and trap shooting.
Alex Morgan broke onto the U.S. stage after a stellar performance in the 2011 World Cup. Coming off the bench in five of six games, Morgan netted key goals in the semifinals and finals to get the U.S. to penalty kicks against Japan.
Despite losing the match, Morgan made a name for herself and became an international player to watch. A former WPS and 2008 FIFA U-20 World Cup Champion, Morgan will be making her Olympic debut in 2012.
Once again, she will be looked to for clutch goal scoring. The U.S. has a legitimate shot to win the gold medal, but in order to do so, Morgan will have to once again show up on the world's biggest stage.
Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte, Ryan Lochte or Michael Phelps. Picking just one of these as the best U.S. athlete in his sport was not easy. Ultimately, however, the edge just barely had to go to Phelps, who will be defending not one, not two, but seven of his eight gold medals at the London Olympics.
Phelps has already said that London will be his last Olympics, so there is no doubt that he wants to go out with a bang. Although he qualified to swim in the same eight events he medaled in at Beijing, Phelps dropped one from his program to focus on the relays.
Going into the Games, Phelps will be looking for just three medals of any color to establish himself as the all-time winningest Olympian in the history of the Games. He only has to face rival Ryan Lochte in two, and as he proved at the U.S. Trials, he can beat Lochte, or anyone else for that matter.
On top of the Olympic medals, Phelps set eight Olympic and seven world records in the Beijing Games. With seven golds at the 2007 World Championships, he also became the winningest athlete at the World Championships.
When the chips fall, Phelps will get at least those three medals and likely will win another seven. They might not all be gold, but there is no doubt that Michael Phelps, with all of his success and anticipation, is the most exciting and best athlete on not just the swim team, but the entire U.S. squad. Everyone will be watching to see him make history.
There is no athlete whose Olympic debut is more anticipated than that of teen sensation Missy Franklin. Franklin, who just turned 17, made her U.S. debut at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. At only 13 years old, she fell just short of making the Olympic team. After that, she vowed to come back, and come back she did.
Franklin burst onto the international scene, winning Grand Prix events and national competitions. In 2011, she was named FINA's Swimmer of the Year after winning two national titles and several World Championship medals.
In her short career, Franklin has already won seven medals at worlds, three of which are gold. She is currently the record holder in the 200-meter backstroke and 4x100-meter medley relay.
In London, Franklin will be swimming in four individual events and three team relays. She is one of the best swimmers in the world and, at only 17, has a legitimate chance to medal in all seven of her events.
Timothy Wang is one of a handful of players that serves to represent the next generation of USA table tennis. For the London Games, he is the only male representative and the most experienced of the crop of youngsters.
Before 2010, Wang was a relative unknown, but recently he has begun to make a name for himself nationally. He won the 2010 Nationals and received the bronze in the 2011 Nationals. He also won the gold at the 2011 Nationals as part of a doubles team.
Although he has a long way to go to make his name known internationally, making his Olympic debut will get him some of the needed experience to face off against the world's best. Wang will be representing the U.S. in the men's singles competition.
At just 16 years old, Ariel Hsing is the veteran of the three American women headed to London. Of the three, she has the most experience both nationally and internationally.
She became the youngest-ever national champion when she won in 2010. She then defended her title in 2011, a year that also saw her win the bronze in both the doubles and individual competition at the Pan Am Games.
A true competitor, Hsing will no doubt gain experience from the Olympics, and at only 16, it is very likely she will participating in the Games for years to come. Hsing will be representing the U.S. in both the women's individual and team competitions.
Steven Lopez is looking to become the most decorated taekwondo athlete in the history of the sport, and he needs just one medal to do so. Since taekwondo became a medal sport at the 2000 Olympics, Lopez has won a gold medal in Sydney, a gold medal in Athens and a bronze at Beijing. He is also a five-time world champion.
Along with these titles, Lopez has won many other meets and events both nationally and internally. At the 2005 World Championships and then again at the 2008 Olympics, he and siblings Diana and Mark made history, as they were the first trio of siblings to medal at the same event.
In 2005 he was named USA Taekwondo's Male Athlete of the Year along with brother Mark. Steven will be representing the U.S. in the men's welterweight division.
On the women's side, it is Steven's little sister Diana who represents the best chance for a medal. Lopez will be entering the London Games as the defending bronze medalist.
Just like her brother, she was the 2005 World Champion. In 2005 and 2006 she was USA Taekwondo's Female Athlete of the Year, an award she again garnered in 2008. She has won several international and national meets and will be headed into the Olympics in search of another medal.
Lopez will be representing the U.S. in the women's featherweight division.
When the rankings were set and the final draw came out prior to the Beijing Games, John Isner was the odd man out. For a country that could only qualify a maximum two players, Isner placed third, just missing out on making the team.
After this near miss, Isner became a new tennis player. He began to rise in the ranks and in 2008 earned the right to play in his first Australian and French Opens and second U.S. Open. After losing in the first round of each of these tournaments and then again at the 2009 Australian Open, Isner switched coaches, and his results began to change.
He defeated Gael Monfils in 2009, marking the first time he was able to defeat a top-10 opponent. Shortly after, he continued to beat top-10 opponents, including a victory over the then-No. 5 Andy Roddick at the U.S. Open. This win advanced him to the third round of a major for the first time.
Since then, Isner continued to climb up the U.S. rankings. He cracked the top 30, received his first seed in a Grand Slam tournament, got his first invitation to play in the Davis Cup, continued to appear in and even win national and international circuit tournaments and, eventually, attained the No. 9 ranking in the world.
Although he did not perform well at Wimbledon 2012, Isner is considered a dark horse to find his way onto the podium. He is a great grass-court player on most days, and if he is on his game, he could even match the silver medal Mardy Fish earned for the U.S. in Athens.
Isner will be representing the U.S. in men's singles, doubles with Andy Roddick and potentially even mixed doubles (teams yet to be decided).
Coming off a renaissance performance at Wimbledon, Serena Williams is in the perfect position to repeat as Olympic gold medalist in doubles, which would be her third gold medal overall (2000, 2008).
The winner of 29 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, Williams has had many ups and downs throughout her career. Initially a top-two player, Williams fell in the rankings as a series of injuries and inconsistencies had her bottoming out at No. 95 in the world during the 2006 season.
Beginning in 2007, Williams had a renewed sense of confidence that led to her winning several majors and another Olympic gold medal. Her best year was in 2009 when she won the singles and doubles titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, along with doubles at the U.S. Open, catapulting her to the No. 1 ranking.
After this, Williams again had ups and downs, but so far in 2012 she has been in the midst of a great season. After winning Wimbledon singles and doubles, Williams went on to win her next tournament at Stanford as part of the U.S. Open Series.
Headed into London, she will be in search of her third, fourth and perhaps fifth Olympic medals. After her performance at Wimbledon, she is one of the favorites to take home the Olympic gold and represents USA's best chance to medal in the singles event.
Andrew Wheating (1500)
Wheating will be returning for his second Olympics to represent the U.S. in the 1500-meter race. The former junior champion is searching for his first medal after finishing poorly in Beijing. He is currently the fourth-fastest person in U.S. history with a 3:30:90 in the 1500.
Galen Rupp (10,000 and 5,000)
A former college standout at the University of Oregon, Rupp will be making his return to the Olympic Games in London. Winner of both the 10,000 and 5,000 meters at the U.S. Trials, he is also the American record holder in the 10,000-meter distance. He is a three-time U.S. champion and trains with legendary runner Mo Farah.
Angelo Taylor (400 Hurdles)
Taylor is the defending gold medalist in this event and once again looks to contend for a medal. He has finished in the top three at key Diamond League events and was second at the U.S. Trials. If he medals, it will be his third in this event and fourth overall, adding to gold from the 2000 and 2008 Olympic Games.
LaShawn Merritt (Men's 400)
Merrit is the defending gold medalist in this event. He also won the gold at the 2009 World Championships. After a 21-month ban because he was accused of doping, Merritt came back to win the U.S. Trials, running the best time in the world in 2012.
Nick Symmonds (Men's 800)
Another college standout, Symmonds figures to be in contention for a medal when he makes his Olympic return in London. He won the U.S. Trials and is a four-time national champion.
Wallace Spearmon (Men's 200)
After having an unsuccessful Olympic debut, Spearmon came back to win bronze at the 2009 World Championships. After qualifying with his performance in the U.S. Trials, Spearmon will likely be in contention to take home a medal.
Aries Merritt (110 Hurdles)
Merritt has slowly been emerging as someone to watch. After a stellar performance at the U.S. Trials, he is headed to his first Olympics, putting up numbers so far this season that put him on track to medal.
Justin Gatlin (Men's 100)
After a four-year doping ban, Gatlin is back to defend the gold medal he won at the 2004 Olympic Games. He ran a 9.80 to win the U.S. Olympic Trials and figures to at least contend for a medal in London.
Ashton Eaton (Decathlon)
After a record-setting performance at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, Eaton clearly emerged as the favorite to win the event in London. He will be making his Olympic debut and is currently the holder of the best decathlon score ever.
Christian Cantwell (Shot Put)
Cantwell is coming off a memorable Olympic performance that saw him record a comeback victory to take the silver medal. He was the first man to ever win three indoor shot put titles and looks to contend for a medal in London.
Jason Young (Discus)
A 30-year-old rookie, Young did not make his first national team until 2011. At the Olympic Trials, he finished in first, earning the spot to represent the U.S. in the Olympics.
A.G. Kruger (Hammer Throw)
Still searching for his first medal, Kruger will be making his third trip to the Olympic Games. He has won 11 national titles, four of which came in the hammer throw.
Brad Walker (Pole Vault)
After a career-best 2012, Walker is finally healthy again as he returns for his second Olympics Games. He won a bronze at the 2011 Indoor Championships and finished first at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Will Claye (Triple Jump and Long Jump)
Claye will be making his Olympic debut in 2012 as he attempts to tackle both the triple and long jump. He placed second in both events at the Olympic Trials.
Jesse Williams (High Jump)
Williams will look to avenge his poor performance at the Beijing Games as he makes his second team in London. He is currently the 2011 world champion in the event and figures to contend for a medal in 2012.
Amy Hastings (10,000)
Hastings is making her Olympic debut in London. She is coming off winning the Olympic Trials and has placed well in Diamond League meets.
Shalane Flanagan (Marathon)
Flanagan, a two-time Olympian, will be tackling the marathon for the first time in her Olympic career. A former bronze medalist in the 10,000 distance, Flanagan was the winner of the marathon at the U.S. Trials.
Alysia Montano (800)
Montano is the three-time and current U.S. champion in this distance. She had had good showings this season and is expected to contend for a medal in her Olympic debut.
Jenny Simpson (1500)
Simpson, a former Olympian, holds the American record in the steeplechase. Switching to the 1500-meter, she is currently the 2011 world champion, making her the first American woman to hold this title since 1983. She is expected to contend for a medal.
Lashinda Demus (400 Hurdles)
Demus will be back to represent the U.S. after a four-year layoff. In 2011 she became the world champion and set the American record in the process. She is expected to contend for a medal.
Lolo Jones (100 Hurdles)
After a devastating final lap at the Beijing Olympics in which Jones clipped the last hurdle, keeping her off the podium, she returns in hopes of avenging that loss. Despite failures after the Games, Jones is now in the best shape of her life and is expected to challenge for the gold medal.
Sanya Richards-Ross (400)
Richards-Ross is not only a two-time Olympian but a three-time medalist as well, as she took gold in the 400 in 2004 and 2008 and individual bronze in 2008. She won gold at the 2009 World Championships and is entering the London Games as a favorite to take home the gold.
Allyson Felix (200)
After dropping the 400 from her program, Felix is focused on finally winning the Olympic gold. She is a two-time Olympic silver medalist in the event and has been a world champion multiple times. In London, she is expected to contend for the gold with Jamaican rival Veronica Campbell-Brown.
Carmelita Jeter (100)
Another U.S. track veteran, Jeter currently holds the second-fastest 100 time in history. She is the defending gold medalist from the 2011 World Championships and figures to once again be in contention for a gold medal at the Olympics.
Hyleas Fountain (Heptathlon)
After winning a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics, Fountain, a five-time national champion, is prepared to medal in London. With strong recent performances and finally being recovered from injury, Fountain is expected to be one of the gold medal contenders in this event.
Brittney Reese (Long Jump)
Reese will be a force to be reckoned with as she makes her second Olympic appearance. After completing a 2011 that saw her win the world, national and Diamond League titles, Reese is one of the gold-medal favorites.
Chaunte Lowe (High Jump)
Lowe will be making her third Olympic appearance. After finishing sixth in Beijing, she has put together a handful of personal bests, including an American record. She is the 2012 World Indoor Champion.
Michelle Carter (Shot Put)
Carter has been among the top two shot-putters in the country for several years now. She is now a two-time Olympian and holds three of the last five U.S. titles in shot put. She looks to be a contender for a medal in the Olympics.
Jenn Suhr (Pole Vault)
After winning a silver medal in 2008, Suhr was forced to take time off due to injury. She rebounded and managed to win several U.S. Championships and Diamond League meets to get the the No. 1 ranking in the world.
Aretha Thurmond (Discus)
Thurmond will be making her fourth Olympic appearance. She has been a strong contender and could challenge for a medal in London.
Brittany Borman (Javelin)
Needing to meet the Olympic A standard to make the Olympics, Borman recorded a final throw that was good enough for her to make the team. She is the lone javelin representative for the women's team and will be making her Olympic debut.
The 22-year-old Gluckstein will be making his Olympic debut at the London Games. He is a three-time national champion and will be the U.S.'s lone male representative.
After winning the Olympic Trials, Gluckstein earned the right to represent the U.S. He will be hoping to medal in the event, making him the first American to do so since trampoline was added to the Olympics in 2000.
At only 19 years old, Vinsant is looking to bring the U.S. a medal, something she is more than capable of doing. Vinsant, just like Gluckstein, earned the lone spot on the team by a strong performance at the Olympic Trials. She also won all three events leading up to the trials, not leaving much of a doubt that she would make the team.
Vinsant won the 2009 World Championship and medaled in both the 2008 and 2009 National Championships.
Jarrod Shoemaker made his Olympic debut at Beijing when he finished in 18th at the 2008 Olympics. Since then, he has posted solid results on the triathlon world series circuit.
He was also named the 2009 USA Elite Athlete of the Year after becoming the ITU Duathlon World Champion. He was the 2010 and 2011 Elite National Champion, earning a return trip to the Olympics.
He is among the top 20 triathletes in the world and should put up solid numbers worthy of a top-15 finish at the Olympics.
When Gwen Jorgensen attended the University of Wisconsin, she never thought she would be representing the U.S. in the Olympics. A track and field and swimming athlete in college, Jorgensen didn't participate in her first triathlon until 2010. She was recruited out of college by a USA National Team that was seeking to end the medal drought in this sport.
In 2010 she was named the Rookie of the Year, and in 2011 she won her USA Elite Triathlon. In that year she also came in fourth at the Pan American Games. Recording a runner-up finish at a London test event, Jorgensen qualified for her first Olympic Games.
Although Clay Stanley and Reid Priddy still lead this U.S. team, it was obvious after the 2011 season that Matt Anderson is being groomed as the star of the future. Anderson led the team in sets played and was their leading scorer throughout all national and international tournaments. He also posted a respectable kill and efficiency percentage in the FIVB World Cup.
Despite sixth- and seventh-place finishes in the World Cup and World League, Anderson was a bright spot on a U.S. team that was beginning to see some turnover from previous championship teams. The former Penn State standout will be looking to help the U.S. defend its Olympic gold medal as he makes his Olympic debut in London.
Another Olympic rookie, Destinee Hooker has been absolutely explosive for the women's team that is still seeking its first gold medal. Hooker, a college track and field athlete, joined the national team in 2010.
Since then, the team has seen a tremendous change of events, as they have gone on to finish with back-to-back golds in the 2010 and 2011 FIVB Grand Prix. The team came in fourth at the FIVB World Championship in 2010 and second in the FIVB World Cup in 2011.
During her time with the team, Hooker has earned several individual honors as well, including the MVP of the 2011 FIVB Grand Prix. Heading into London, she gives the U.S. a great chance to contend for a medal.
When the London Olympics begin, Tony Azevedo, captain of the U.S. Water Polo Team, will be making his fourth Olympic appearance. After a sixth-place finish in 2000 and a seventh-place finish in 2004, Azevedo's squad finally had a shot to win a gold medal. Although they ultimately fell short, it only made the team's desire to win stronger.
Anchored once again by Azevedo, who is considered one of the best all-around water polo athletes in the world, the team will have a shot to contend for a gold medal. They recently had a sixth-place finish at the 2011 World Championships, a fourth-place finish at the FINA World Super League and a gold-medal finish at the Pan American Games.
For the U.S. to win gold, Azevedo will be looked to for his offense and playmaking abilities.
A three-time Olympian, Brenda Villa hopes that this is the year that her team can finally bring the U.S. a gold medal in women's water polo. The team has won silver, bronze and silver in the last three Olympics.
Villa, the most decorated female water polo player in history, captained the 2008 team and watched with heartbreak as they fell just short of the gold medal. Now in her fourth Olympics, she will once again be captaining the team in her last year with them.
Villa has stated she will retire after these Olympics. Her attack is undoubtedly important to Team USA, and she will be a vital part of the team if they hope to have her go out on top as the Olympic champion.
Kendrick Farris will be making his second Olympic appearance at the London Games and is considered to be in the mix for a medal.
Farris, a four-time national champion, finished eighth in his first games, setting an American record in the process. He was the gold medalist at the 2010 Pan American Games and the bronze medalist at the same event in 2011.
Farris has stated his desire to set a clean and jerk world record, something he has spent hours training for. Expected to have a stellar performance and land on the podium for the first time at the Olympics, Farris might be ready to set the record in London. He will be representing the U.S. in the men's 85kg division.
The 24-year-old Sarah Robles will be making her Olympic debut at the London Games. She is the three-time defending U.S. champion and continued her success by beating out her fellow Olympic teammate by three kg in her final lift at the Olympic Trials. She also medaled in the 2010 Pan American Games. Robles will be representing the U.S. in the women's over-75kg division.
Ben Provisor is one of a handful of U.S. Olympic wrestlers that will be making their Olympic debuts in London. He finished second in the Olympic Trials and won the 2011 U.S. Open a year prior.
He is a true rookie on Team USA, having only been a member of the national team since the 2011-12 season. Provisor will be representing the U.S. in the Men's Greco-Roman 74kg Division.
Kelsey Campbell is another rookie for the U.S. She is one of four women that were chosen to represent Team USA.
After winning at the Olympic Trials her first major victory, Campbell is prepared for London. She wrestled in college for Arizona State and was the only female on the team. That didn't stop her, however, as she managed to place in six of seven tournaments she entered. She will be representing the U.S. in the women's freestyle 55kg division.