The widely-believed story behind the Olympic rings is actually a myth. Many of us grew up thinking each of the five rings represents a different continent: Blue for Europe, yellow for Asia, black for Africa, green for Australia and red for the Americas. But it isn’t so. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who founded the modern Olympics, never had the continents in mind at all. He saw the rings as a way of showing the connection between the various parts of the world.

But just for fun, we decided to name the Olympian to watch from each continent in the London 2012 Games, which begin one year from now.

Before we begin, please keep in mind that nobody has qualified yet and some of these athletes may not even be in London. Remember that Michael Phelps sustained a severe wrist injury in the months leading up to the Beijing Games and worried he’d have to drop out. So anything can happen. We've also narrowed the field down to athletes who have already won at least one gold medal.

With the fine print out of the way, here is each continent's top Olympian to watch in the coming year:

-- For a slideshow of Olympians, click here.

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