By Olivia Miltner, ’13

Excellence. Respect. Friendship. These are the three principles that provide the foundation for the Olympic Games. Since the 1890s, the games have withstood wars and boycotts and have succeeded in bringing together countries from around the world for friendly competition.The 2012 summer games, set to take place in London, occur July 27 through Aug. 12. Once they begin, the best of the best athletes from almost every country on Earth will compete for the gold.

China’s divers Jingjing Guo and Minxia Wu won gold at the 2008 Olympic Games. Courtesy David Eulitt/ Kansas City Star/MCT
China took gold in seven out of eight diving events in 2008.This year, they have the potential to pass the U.S. in the total overall medal count.

 Ryan Lochte competes at the Charlotte UltraSwim Grand Prix. Courtesy Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register/MCT

U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte beat competitor Michael Phelps in two races at the 2011 swiming world championships, bringing in a total of five gold medals.

 U.S. gymnasts Nastia Liukin, silver medal, left, and Shawn Johnson, gold medal, center, during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Courtesy Paul Kitagaki Jr./Sacramento Bee/MCT

The U.S. gymnastics team must choose between the 2008 Olympics champion team, including Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin, and the girls who won the 2012 world championship.

 Spain’s national soccer team celebrates after winning the 2010 World Cup. Courtesy Anthony StanleyFIFA ranked Spain’s soccer team the best in the world. Spain also won the 2010 World Cup; it will be a strong contender during the Olympic Games.

Usain Bolt runs down his competitors at the 2009 World Championships. Courtesy  André ZehetbauerUsain Bolt recently won the 100m dash at the Jamaica International Invitational with his fastest individual season opener time of 9.82 seconds.

Novak Djokovic takes a swing at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in 2011. Courtesy John Mahoney/Canwest News Service/MCT

According to the ATP World Tour, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic is ranked number one in the world. He recently won the 2011 Wimbledon, beating Rafael Nadal.