Usain Bolt, Serena Williams and Bradley Wiggins among the big names looking for a big performance in their last Games
The Olympic Games are always packed with emotional stories and for those athletes saying goodbye to the famous rings, the sentiment is even stronger. The Rio 2016 Games will see a host of great performers striving to ensure they shine during their last appearance on the Olympic stage.
We’ve listed 10 of the athletes for whom Rio 2016 is likely to be their final Olympic Games. The stage is set… and with ticket sales starting in March this year, click here to ensure you don’t miss out.
The Jamaican sprint superstar 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, Bolt will have a strong claim to be being the greatest track athlete of all time, which would be a nice way to celebrate his 30th birthday on the day of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games closing ceremony. He recently said he intends to retire from athletics in 2017.
The 33-year-old American tennis legend has won 19 grand slam titles, putting her ahead of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in the all-time list, with only Steffi Graf further in front on 22. Serena is also the joint top Olympic gold medallist – she has four, along with her sister Venus – and she will defend the women’s singles title at Rio 2016, then look towards retirement.
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.
Brazil’s most successful Olympian – with two gold, two silvers and one bronze medal in sailing – the 41-year-old has already said that he will hang up his sails after competing on the waters of Guanabara Bay in 2016.
The 35-year-old Catchings stood on the top of the podium at the last three Olympic Games, as part of the all-conquering USA women’s basketball team. The WNBA star has confirmed that she plans retire after going for a fourth gold at the Rio 2016 Games.
The Russian, widely considered the greatest female pole vaulter of all time, 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, Lina Dan become the first Olympic champion to defend his title, when he beat Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei in an epic 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.
Despite being only 26 years old, the Italian swimmer has confirmed she will retreat from the pool after Rio 2016 to focus on her family life. The first female Olympic champion from her country, Pellegrini will be competing in her fourth Games.
A world champion in 2007, the Brazilian judoka has two Olympic medals (silver at Sydney 2000 and bronze at Beijing 2008) and hopes to finally grab a gold in front of his home fans at Rio 2016, after which his kimono will go into the wardrobe.
With three silver and two bronze Olympic medals, the 33-year-old Australian basketball star has already declared that Rio 2016 will make the “perfect farewell” to the sport.