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As the Olympic trials come to a close, elite athletes all over the world are securing their tickets to London and packing their bags for the 2012 Olympic Games.

While they undoubtedly have their sights set on taking home the medals that are safely stashed in the Tower of London's high-security vaults, many athletes are also excited to spend their summer exploring Europe's biggest city, a three-time host of the Games. In addition to London’s Olympic Village in Stratford, here is where you will likely find these eight sports stars.

Mike Dawson, New Zealand kayaker
“The Olympic course we're racing is about 30 minutes from the centre of London,” said Dawson. “[But] I've already managed to venture into the city and check things out. One of my favourite places so far is Camden Market, which has six open-air markets and a huge food court. What an unbelievable atmosphere – it's great for people watching!”

Evelyn Stevens, US road cyclist
“I studied abroad for a semester at the University of Oxford, about 90km northwest of London, while I was a student,” said Stevens. “I would love to make a trip back to the historic campus once I'm done racing. I'd specifically like to visit Keble College, where I took classes at Oxford, and grab a cider at my favourite pub, The College Bar.”

Jessica Hardy, US Swimmer
“My last trip to London was in 2010, right after swimming in the Short Course World Championships in Manchester,” said Hardy. “I went shopping at Harrods and what sticks out most in my mind was Ladurée, the Parisian tearoom located on the ground floor of the department store. It had the most beautifully crafted pastries and cakes! Another place I have to check out is a fancy bar and lounge called Vertigo 42, complete with 360-degree views of London on the 42nd floor of Tower 42 [the tallest building in London]. I would love to sip a summer cocktail there at sunset!”

Gabrielle Douglas, US gymnast
“I can't wait to see Buckingham Palace and hopefully the Queen, too!” said Douglas. “I'm also excited to see the London Eye; my mom brought me home a tiny replica of the London Eye when she visited the city a few years ago. Another item on my list is to taste fish and chips. I love seafood so I have to see what all the hype's about.”

Mike Bryan, US tennis doubles player
“My twin brother and doubles partner, Bob, and I have been coming to London for the past 15 years so we have a lot of places where we love to eat and hang out,” said Bryan. “During Wimbledon, you can usually find us at the healthy Mediterranean restaurant, Aglio Olio. We're also suckers for a good steak so Sophie's Steakhouse is where we get our red meat fix. Both of these restaurants are on Fulham Road in Chelsea. Music is also in our blood, so we're always looking for a good concert to see while we're in town. We've seen a bunch of amazing shows at Brixton's O2 Academy in southwest London.”

Amber Neben, US cyclist
“It would be fun to visit Westminster Abbey, the historic church where the nation’s kings and queens have been crowned and buried since 1066,” said Neben. “The medieval building has also seen 16 royal weddings, including William and Kate's last year. I'm into all the tourist traps, from the House of Parliament and Big Ben to Buckingham Palace. It also would be cool to visit Sheffield , a city outside of London, where my ancestors are from. And being the huge sports fan that I am, it would be awesome to see a match in one of the city's big football stadiums.”

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