The Olympics are where legends are made.
Unlike many of America's mainstream sports, we aren't constantly bombarded with Olympic athletes throughout the year—in fact, we only hear about them every four. That's why these Games are so important for their legacies as athletes—everything they do on the grandest stage is magnified.
Failing to live up to expectations at the Games can leave an athlete forgotten, even if they are the best in their sport any other time. Here are some of the athletes that we will always remember from the 2012 Games.
Michael Phelps didn't create a legacy as much as he cemented a previously existing one.
Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time, and although he didn't bring the same dominance that he had in the 2008 Games, he still brought home more medals than any other Olympic athlete.
Phelps came away from London with four gold medals and two silvers and played a key role in the USA's dominance of the swimming events. Phelps' impressive Olympic performance officially makes him the greatest Olympian of all time and will forever tie him to the Games.
While Americans were already familiar with Phelps, Ryan Lochte came on in the 2012 Olympics to show that he could hold his own in the pool too.
Lochte won two golds in the 2008 Games but really established himself as a name that we will always remember by taking five medals in London and besting Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley.
Lochte's great showing in the pool was another reason that the U.S. was able to gain a huge advantage in the swimming events.
Franklin was perhaps the best athlete in these Olympic Games as the 17-year-old became a celebrity overnight with her astounding performance in the pool.
Franklin was the most decorated female athlete in these Games, earning her country four gold medals and a total of five. In addition to netting the golds, Franklin set the world record for the 200-meter backstroke with a time of 2:04.06 and was on the world-record-setting 4x100-meter relay team.
Franklin definitely made a huge statement at the 2012 Games, but with her age she is well on her way to becoming an Olympic legend.
Fab Five Gymnastics Team
The USA gymnastics team of Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross and Aly Raisman made history when they won the all-around team gold medal in artistic gymnastics.
The team lived up to all of the hype coming into the Olympics to become the first team to win the gold medal in the event since 1996 in Atlanta. On their own, each member of the team had her moments, but it will be the gold in the team event that we will always remember.