As the pinnacle of sporting competition, the Olympic Games often see the emergence of bright new talents, or provide crowning moments for established athletes, but for many veterans of the competition, they serve as the swansong on which to finish their careers on a high.
The Rio 2016 Games will see a host of great performers striving to ensure they shine during their last appearance on the Olympic stage. Champions Olympic Speakers picks five athletes for whom the upcoming Games are expected to be their last.
The Jamaican sprinter, who intends to retire from athletics in 2017, will go for an unprecedented ‘triple triple’ in Rio, where he will attempt to defend the 100m, 200m 4x100m relay titles he won at the Beijing 2008 Games and retained at London 2012. If he does it, he will have a strong claim to be being the greatest track athlete of all time, just in time to celebrate his 30th birthday on the day of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games closing ceremony.
The 33-year-old American tennis legend has won 19 Grand Slams, putting her ahead of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in the all-time list, with only Steffi Graf further in front on 22. She is also the joint top Olympic gold medallist, with four golds alongside her sister Venus – and she will defend the women’s singles title at Rio 2016, which could very well be her last Games.
Sir Bradley Wiggins CBE
The 34-year-old cyclist – the first Briton to win the Tour de France – has won four Olympic gold medals, plus one silver and two bronzes, on both the track and the road. After starting in the velodrome, Wiggins mastered the road, and now plans to return to the track for Rio. If he wins an eighth medal, he will become the most decorated British Olympian of all time.
Widely considered the greatest female pole vaulter of all time, the Russian icon has just returned to training after having a baby and intends to compete for a third gold medal at the Rio 2016 Games, when she will be 34 years old. The Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 champion is determined to return to the top of the podium after finishing third at London 2012.
Considered by many the best singles badminton player of all time, Lin become the first Olympic champion to defend his title, when he beat Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei in the London 2012 final. The Chinese player then denied rumours he was set to retire and confirmed he would go for a third straight gold in Rio, soon after which he will turn 33.
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