London Olympic 2012: Top Five Olympic Athletes to Watch from France

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With the Summer Games quickly approaching (kickoff is July 27) there is so much talent we can barely scratch the surface. After losing the bidding race for the 2012 games, the French will definitely have the taste of retribution and the possibility of outstanding performances.

We realize there are many more than five talented athletes; however.

Here are our top five athletes from France competing in the 2012 London Olympics:

Teddy Tamgho, Track and Field: At only 23, Tamgho is already considered third in the world in the sport of triple jump. With his performance at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York June 2010 with a jump of 17.98m, he could easily jump into the record books by beating Johnathon Edwards' world-record of 18.29 meters. Tamgho also holds the indoor jump world-record with 17.92 meters from the 2010 European Indoor Championship. With tight competition from England's Phillips Idowu and a new legendary coach, Ivan Pedroso, it will be fun to watch the battle for the record books and for the gold.

Camille Lacourt, Swimming: Known for his dashing good looks and baby blues, Lacourt (27) will be competing in the 50m and 100m backstroke. His latest achievements include three gold medals at the European Aquatics Championships in 2010, including a new European record and second fastest time ever for the 100m (52.11). At 6 feet 6 inches, this "French Apollo" stands a strong chance during both the 100m and 50m, however, he will have dangerous opponents in three-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte (100m) and English swimmer Liam Tancock (who holds the world-record time in the 50m).

Teddy Riner, Judo:

Better known as "the giant", 23-year-old Riner will be participating in his second Olympics. Ever since his 2008 Beijing bronze performance, Riner has won gold at four World Championships. Born on the island of Guadeloupe Riner stands 6'8" and weighs more than 285 lbs. In the heavyweight division of the modern martial art, judo, make sure you are watching while he tries to go for gold in London.

Renaud Lavillenie, Pole Vault: Yes, another track and fielder, but equally talented. Lavillenie is known as the flying Frenchman and he is truly focused on gold in London. Yet hard work may not be enough when he faces Australia's Steve Hooker, who took gold in Beijing in 2008. After a snapped pole broke his hand, he underwent surgery in December and returned to the sport in February. He clears 6 meters during most competitions, and is looking to break Sergey Bubka's 6.16 meters world record. If he can do that, then Lavillenie (26) is guaranteed gold.

Tony Estanguet, Whitewater slalom: Whitewater slalom might not be something you have heard much about, but people that have surely have heard of Tony Estanguet. At 34 years old, Estanguet has participated in the last three Olympics, earning gold in both 2000 and 2004. However, in 2008 in Beijing he finished ninth in the semifinals, which eliminated his from the final. He canoes in the C-1 class and he is coming to London with a mighty thirst for this third gold. With stiff competition from Slovak Michal Martikan, and off of his 2009 and 2010 World Championship wins, he is looking at London 2012 to give him that golden ending of a great career.

Honorable Mentions:

Amélie Cazé, Modern pentathlon: Modern pentathlon (for those of you that are not sure what it is) is a sport that contains five events -- makes sense. The five events are pistol shooting, fencing, 200m freestyle swim, show jumping, and a 3km cross-county run. All that said, Caze (27) is one of the best, even if nobody knows. She has won gold three times in the World Championship (2007, 2008, and 2010), and even though her competition will be stiff with the British team, maybe it will be Caze's turn out of obscurity.

Grégory Baugé, Cycling: Even though controversy surrounded Bauge in 2011 for missing dope testing, he will be looking to continue his winning streak for himself and his cycling team. Said to be in the best shape of his life, the seven-time world champion will be hoping for another gold. He reclaimed himself with his 2012 World Championship win in Australia; however, he will have much competition from British veteran Sir Chris Hoy and his young protégé, Jason Kenny.

Alain Bernard, Fabien Gillot, Yannick Agnel, Frédérick Bousquet, Swimming: Known as the French Fantastic Four, these four men will be going for gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay. After numerous attempts at the gold, they finally earned theirs during the 2010 World Swimming Championships in Dubai. Considered to contain four of the best sprinters in the world, this team will have to face the U.S. team in London 2012, which will include fourteen-time gold medalist Michael Phelps.

With high expectations throughout the games and with the hopes of earning more than the 41 medals it did in Beijing 2008, France will be a fierce competitor. I am very excited about the London Olympics, and I am sure all the events will be great examples of endurance, teamwork, and perfection.

Ashley Hodge is an avid athletic supporter. She was a NCAA D-1 Rower and enjoys many other athletic activities. She is anxiously awaiting the Olympics in London and hope that you find time to enjoy them as well.

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