Olympics: The 16 stars of Rio 2016

Rio de Janeiro was the stage and while the curtains have come down on the 2016 Olympic Games, a host of stars will be remembered for their performances in Brazil.

The Straits Times picks out athletes that stood out in Rio.

Here is the list of 16. 


1. Usain Bolt, 30 (Jamaica)

Jamaica's Usain Bolt holds up three fingers for his third gold medal after Team Jamaica won the men's 4x100m relay final. PHOTO: AFP

Bolt cemented his status as the greatest sprinter ever by completing an unprecedented "triple treble". He has been invincible at the Olympics, winning 100m, 200m and 4x100m golds at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.

2. Wayde van Niekerk, 24 (South Africa)

Gold medallist South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk points to his new world record displayed on a board after the men's 400m final. PHOTO: AFP 

Van Niekerk achieved what many thought impossible: breaking the 400m world record. He won gold in 43.03 seconds, shattering American Michael Johnson's 17-year-old record by 0.15sec. And he did so from lane eight. No man had ever won the one-lap race from the outside lane.

3. Elaine Thompson, 24 (Jamaica)

Elaine Thompson of Jamaica celebrates her women's 200m victory. PHOTO: REUTERS 

Thompson upset the odds twice to become the first woman in 28 years to win the 100m and 200m at the same Games. Three days after winning the century sprint ahead of two-time defending champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, she took 200m gold at the expense of world champion Daphne Schippers.

4. Mo Farah, 33 (Great Britain)

Mo Farah of Britain poses after winning the gold in the men's 5,000m. PHOTO: REUTERS 

Farah won the 5,000m and 10,000m events, becoming the first man since Finland's Lasse Viren in 1976 to retain two Olympic distance titles . The Briton fell in the 10,000m race but recovered to win gold. A week later, he completed the double-double even though his rivals from Ethiopia - Dejen Gebremeskel, Muktar Edris and Hagos Gebrhiwet - all passed up the 10,000m to concentrate on the shorter distance.


5. Michael Phelps, 31 (USA)

Michael Phelps of the USA celebrates after winning the men's 200m butterfly final. PHOTO: EPA

Already the most decorated Olympian in history before his arrival in Rio, Phelps added to his legacy in his swansong. He won golds in the 200m butterfly, 200m individual medley, 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x200m freestyle relay and 4x100m medley relay, as well as a silver at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. That brought his all-time Olympic medal haul to 28 - 23 golds, three silvers and two bronzes.

6. Joseph Schooling, 21 (Singapore)

Joseph Schooling of Singapore celebrates after winning in the men's 100m butterfly final. PHOTO: EPA 

Phelps' only final loss in Rio came against Schooling in the 100m butterfly. Schooling clocked an Olympic record time of 50.39sec to win Singapore's first gold medal. His victory created ripples around the world, as many people expected Phelps to win a fourth straight gold in this event.

7. Katie Ledecky, 19 (USA)

Katie Ledecky of USA celebrates after winning in the women's 800m freestyle final. PHOTO: EPA

The teenage sensation was the only athlete to break world records in two different events in Rio. She recorded the fastest times in the 400m freestyle (3min 56.46sec) and 800m freestyle (8min 04.79sec). She also won golds in the 200m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay, and a silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay. No female athlete had a better haul from these Games.

8. Anthony Ervin, 35 (USA)

Anthony Ervin became the oldest Olympic swimming champion in the men's 50m freestyle. PHOTO: AFP 

Ervin became the oldest Olympic swimming champion when he won the 50m freestyle race on Aug 12. He last won Olympic gold in that event 16 years ago at the Sydney Games.

His return to the top step of the podium marks his career coming full circle. He battled with drugs and alcohol, and attempted suicide, after victory in his maiden Olympics in 2000. He called it quits aged 22 and stayed retired for eight years before rediscovering his passion for swimming.

9. Fu Yuanhui, 20 (China)

Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui poses with her bronze medal on the podium of the women's 100m backstroke. PHOTO: AFP 

Fu might not have won gold but she saved her best performances for her media interviews. She first won over the world with her funny facial expressions and candid nature on the second day of competition.

After the 100m backstroke semi-finals, she erupted with unbridled joy when a reporter told her she qualified in 58.95sec - a better timing than Fu had expected. She won bronze the next day and raced in another final - the 4x100m medley relay - five days later. China missed out on a podium place by just 0.17sec and Fu later revealed that she was having her period.

"My period came last night and I'm really tired right now," she told a reporter. "But this isn't an excuse, I still did not swim as well as I should have."

Many observers praised her for her openness and honesty after breaking what has long been a taboo among female athletes.

Fu has since been the shining light of a relatively disappointing campaign for China. The superpower finished third in the medal table on 26 golds behind the United States and Great Britain - their worst return since the 1996 Atlanta Games.


10. Santiago Lange, 54 (Argentina)

Santiago Lange's sons Yago, 28, and Klaus, 21, swim to the boat to celebrate with their father and his crew mate Cecilia Carranza Saroli. PHOTO: AFP 

The difference between Lange in Rio and Lange at his previous five Olympic appearances was that this time, he was racing with one lung. Last year, he was diagnosed with cancer but it did not stop him from competing as the oldest sailor in Brazil.

It did not stop him from winning his first Olympic gold medal either - 28 years after his Games debut in Seoul. He finished first in the Nacra 17 mixed catamaran class with crew mate Cecilia Carranza Saroli.


11. Simone Biles, 19 (USA)

Gymnast Simone Biles in action at the women's floor final. PHOTO: REUTERS

Biles won the team and individual all-around, vault and floor exercise titles to become the first woman to win four gymnastics gold medals in a single Olympic Games. East German swimmer Kristin Otto is the only female athlete to win more gold medals in one edition. Otto won six golds at the 1988 Seoul Games.

Biles also won a bronze in the beam event. While the teenager was not perfect in Rio, her dominance was undoubted. She won the individual all-around by 2.1 points - bigger than the margin of victory from 1980-2012 combined.

12. Oksana Chusovitina, 41 (Uzbekistan)

Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan at the women's vault final competition. PHOTO: EPA 

Chusovitina knew that it would take something special to beat Biles in the vault final. That is why she attempted the "Vault of Death".

It is a front handspring off the table and two front somersaults in the air. It is so dangerous that Biles' coach Aimee Boorman said of the routine in an interview with the New Yorker: "You land too far, you break your leg. You land too short, you break your neck. Or you die."

Chusovitina - the oldest Olympic female gymnast in history - tumbled on her head and ended up seventh in the eight-woman final.

But her bravery in a sport where most female gymnasts peak in their teens did not go unnoticed. When she made her Olympic debut at the 1992 Barcelona Games, most of her rivals in Rio were not yet born. The Rio Games represented her seventh Olympic appearance. Only two women have competed in more Olympics - Italian canoeist Josefa Idem and Georgian shooter Nino Salukvadze (both eight times).

Chusovitina has vowed to match them. "Definitely," she told reporters when asked if she would be gunning for Tokyo 2020. "I've already taken this decision… I just woke up in the morning and decided."


13. Wu Minxia, 30 (China)

Wu Minxia (top) and Shi Tingmao in action during the women's synchronised 3m springboard. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

If the Rio Games prove to be her last Olympics, Wu went out in the best way possible. She put on a show with partner Shi Tingmao in the women's 3m synchronised springboard final, beating rivals in all five dives and winning by a 31.77-point margin.

Wu's final dive - a backward two-and-a-half-somersault pike - ensured many firsts. She is the first Olympic diver to win five golds and the most decorated diver with seven medals. Having also won the 3m synchronised springboard titles at the last three Games, Wu became the first woman to win four golds in the same event at the Olympics. She is also the oldest woman to win an Olympic diving gold medal


14. Jason Kenny, 28 (Great Britain)

Britain's Jason Kenny reacts after winning the men's keirin finals track cycling event. PHOTO: AFP 

Kenny won gold in all the events he was entered in at these Games, sweeping the sprint events. Golds in the team sprint, individual sprint and keirin, took him level on six Olympic titles with Chris Hoy as Britain's most successful Olympian.


15. Jin Jong Oh, 36 (South Korea)

Jin Jong Oh of South Korea poses with his gold medal. PHOTO: REUTERS 

Jin came back from the brink of elimination to win his third consecutive 50m pistol gold. He fired a disastrous 6.6 - out of a perfect 10.9 - on his ninth shot in the final. But he remained calm, shooting a sub-10 score just once more in his final seven attempts. Not only did he win gold, but he also set a new Olympic record of 193.7.

Only Americans Al Oerter (discus), Carl Lewis (long jump), and Phelps (200m individual medley) have won more more golds (four) from a single individual event.


16. Kaori Icho, 32 (Japan)

Japan's Kaori Icho on the podium after winning in the women's 58kg freestyle wrestling event. PHOTO: AFP

Icho also turned potential defeat into victory. With five seconds left in the women's freestyle 58kg final, she was still trailing Russian Valeria Koblova Zholobova. But she staved off a tackle and countered in the dying moments to win 3-2.

Icho became the first athlete in Olympic history to win four consecutive gold medals in any women's individual event. Her previous golds came in the 63kg class.