Women leave behind men as most popular sports stars in 2012

London: Women have overtaken men as the most popular sports stars in 2012, as athlete Jessica Ennis and cyclist Victoria Pendleton were the first and third most searched-for sporting names on the net, a new research has revealed.

Tennis gold medal winner Andy Murray came second as the Olympics saw usually popular footballers pushed out of the limelight, the Daily Star reports.

Footballer Fabrice Muamba, who survived a cardiac arrest, came fourth, the paper added.

Normally popular superstars David Beckham, 37, Lionel Messi, 25, and Cristiano Ronaldo, 27, were relegated to outside the top five, it concluded.