From Jessica Ennis-Hill to Michael Phelps: farewell to five Olympic giants

Many of the stars of who have illuminated up the Game will retire after Rio. We highlight a group we will all surely miss

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps on his route to silver during the mens 100 m butterfly final Photo: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

Whatever your opinion of Michael Phelpss enthusiasm for cupping, the Chinese therapy said to increase blood flowing, something he is doing has attained him the biggest aquatic megastar since Nemo. With 23 gold medals to tuck into his Speedos, the swimmer has ricochetted back from suspension for drinking driving and speeding offences , not to mention some party-related bong use, and is now the exemplar of wholesome American fatherhood his first retirement photo was of him and his wife in a pond with their baby son. Lasting image? Phelps inducing like Darth Maul on the poolside ,~ ATAGEND launching one of the greatest ever Olympic memes.

Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt wins the 200 m final Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

Usain Bolt is more than the worlds fastest man: he is the also the man who saved his sport from the ignominy and potential oblivion caused by permeating drug abuse. That his invincibility and his phenomenal popularity coincided with the high-water mark of athletics doping scandals was a piece of brilliant luck for the athletics governing bodies; that he will now left open to fend for themselves is an inescapable challenge. As for Bolt? Well, according to some( albeit mischievous) reports, he is off to play for Manchester United. Whatever his ball abilities, it is hard to see him being beaten for pace.

Bradley Wiggins

Sir Bradley is the poster boy for the transformative impact science, in combination with National Lottery funding, can have on a single sport. Under the guidance of guru Sir Dave Brailsford, British cycling mutated into a medal-winning machine so dominant that other countries are now threatening to withdraw from the athletic in the future. And in the midst of all that professionalism, there was Wiggo, sideburns, Mod T-shirts, geezer stance and the capacity to lead a team in both velodromes and the mountains of France. Now he can dedicate time to managing his own Team Wiggins and popping round to have a jam doughnut, and an actual jam, with Paul Weller.

Jessica Ennis-Hill

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