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ALEX MORGAN, U.S.
Her 2008 Women's World Cup performance earned her soccer's Bronze Shoe and Silver Ball – and fans worldwide. Known for her trademark pink hair bands and ability to both score and assist, the 23-year-old Californian was the No. 1 WPS draft pick when she went pro and was up for an ESPY award for best breakthrough athlete. Off-field, she's earned even more fans when she posed in a soccer ball-themed "swimsuit" made of body paint in the 2012 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
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MARIA SHARAPOVA, RUSSIA
If you don't know who Maria Sharapova is, you've probably been living in Middle Earth. The 25-year-old Russian-born tennis champ as renowned for her looks as her four Grand Slam singles titles (the most recent at this year's French Open) is looking to add an Olympic gold to her already-crowded mantel. "It will be surreal," she said of playing in London for an Olympic medal rather than the Wimbledon Rosewater Dish. "It's just a unique opportunity for all of us, but I'm extremely thrilled that it's at Wimbledon. It's my favorite place to play tennis." Rightfully so: She earned her first Gram Slam title at age 17 at the All England Club.
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LOLO JONES, U.S.
Sport: Track and Field
Jones overcame a tough childhood to become an Olympic medal-contending track star. Still, the Iowa-born stunner – who many thought would take home gold in the 100-meter hurdle in Beijing – recently revealed that there's something even more trying than preparing for the Olympics: "If there's virgins out there, I'm going to let them know, it's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life – harder than training for the Olympics, harder than graduating from college, has been to stay a virgin before marriage," the 29-year-old told HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel in May. "I've been tempted. I've had guys tell me … 'Hey, you know, if you have sex, it'll help you run faster.'"
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NATALIE COUGHLIN, U.S.
The 11-time Olympic medalist, who made history by becoming the first woman to win six medals in a single Olympics and broke an additional record by becoming the first woman to win the gold twice in consecutive Olympics for the 100-meter backstroke, picked up a bronze in the 4x100 relay. Off the blocks, Coughlin put her hard-earned body on display on the ninth season of Dancing with the Stars and in the 2012 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, a personal highlight. "When I'm old and wrinkly and out of shape, I'll be very, very proud of that," said the 29-year-old.
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JESSICA ENNIS, U.K.
Sport: Track and Field
Considered one of Britain's best chances for a gold (and one of the top female athletes in the world), the 26-year-old heptathlete is Europe's current champion and a former world champion in the multidisciplinary event. Ennis is also one of only 10 women in history who have been able to achieve a high jump a foot over her own height – 5 ft., 5 in. Ennis, who had to sit out of the 2008 Olympics due to injury, isn't letting anything distract her from stepping onto the winner's podium, even putting her wedding on hold until after the Olympics.
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DARYA KLISHINA, RUSSIA
Sport: Track and Field
Though her looks have earned her a modeling career (she's a brand ambassador for Seiko), the blonde long jumper from Moscow is not just a pretty face. Klishina, 21, won a bevy of distinct junior European tournaments before racking up a gold medal at the 2011 European Athletics Indoor Championships, and again at the European Under-23 Championships the same year. And the statuesque stunner, who just signed with global marketer IMG Worldwide, stresses that her sport always comes first: "I would never miss a single training for a photo shoot or an interview," she said. "Athletics is a priority for me."
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ALLYSON FELIX, U.S.
Sport: Track and Field
Twice the winner of Olympic silver for the 200 meter and a gold medalist in the 4 x 400 meter relay in Beijing, Felix, 26, holds the distinction of being the only woman to win gold three times at the World Athletics Championships in the event. With the London within sight, the USC grad has made it known her goal is to win an individual gold in her signature event – the 200 meter. "I've done all this other stuff," she told Piers Morgan on July 4. "But this is the one missing thing, and it's the thing that I really want."
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ROMY TARANGUL, GERMANY
Though she only stands 5 ft., 3 in. tall, the 24-year-old German native packs a wallop, representing her country in judo in the half-lightweight class. She can boast silver and bronze medals in world and European championships, but in London she's seeking to make up for walking away from Beijing empty-handed in 2008. She came in a disappointing ninth at those Olympic Games, but still won a lot of exposure – she posed nude in German edition of Playboy afterward.
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SWIN CASH, U.S.
A five-time WNBA All-Star, this 6 ft., 1 in. forward for the Chicago Sky played on the U.S. women's basketball team that won gold at the 2004 Athens Games, but sat out of Beijing four years later due to injury. When Cash, 32, was selected for the U.S. national team in March, she heaped praise upon the team's coach, Geno Auriemma, who also coached her at UConn: "I'm looking forward to finishing off my USA Basketball career with one of the coaches who helped get me here, from pushing me in college all those years and really giving me encouragement after that," she said.
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SOPHIE POLKAMP, NETHERLANDS
Sport: Field Hockey
The Dutch team is the field-hockey juggernaut to beat in London, thanks in part to stalwart defender Polkamp, 27, who earned her share of the Netherlands' gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She was also part of the national teams that won the world championship in 2006, two golds and one silver in European championships, and two golds and a bronze in field hockey's most prestigious event, the Hockey Champions Trophy. Still, it wasn't certain she'd make the cut for London – she was plagued by injury for much of past season.
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VICTORIA PENDLETON, U.K.
A darling of the British public, Pendleton went from winning a gold medal in track cycling at the 2008 Games to appearing in the buff in magazine photo shoots a year later. She's won nine world titles and is credited with glamorizing track cycling's less-than-sexy reputation, but the London Games will be the 31-year-old's last. "I know I've done the best job possible to be in that peak shape for the Olympics. Fingers crossed, it all works out," she told SkySports in June.
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HEATHER MITTS, U.S.
London will be the final Olympics for Mitts, who earned gold twice (in 2004 and 2008) with the U.S. national team. Now 34, the defender for Atlanta Beat happens to have topped several lists of the sexiest women in sports, and has parlayed her natural beauty into the occasional modeling job. "I feel like I'm probably the fittest I've ever been, and I'm healthy and loving playing," Mitts told NBCOlympics.com of going to London. "[It's] always been my plan to hopefully play in one last Olympics and to step away from the game kind of on my own terms."
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