Fourth-Place Medal

What’s next for 10 of the biggest stars of the 2012 London Olympics?

Fourth-Place Medal

Michael Phelps says he's done with competitive swimming, but his peers aren't so sure (Getty Images)

With a dwindling number of medals left to be handed out and the Closing Ceremony just two days away, there's one obvious question many will be asking: What's next for the athletes who have thrilled us the past two weeks with their speed, strength and charisma?

Here's a look at which of the breakout stars of the London Games we can expect back in Rio in 2016 and what they'll be doing during the four years in between.

Gabrielle Douglas hopes to return in 2016 (Getty Images)

Gabby Douglas, gymnastics

What she did in London: Won gold in the all-around competition and helped lead the U.S. to a team gold
What's next: Just like the rest of the Fab Five, Douglas won't rule out the possibility of attempting to make the Olympic team in 2016 nor will she commit to it either. Dominique Dawes is the last U.S. gymnast to compete in multiple Olympics in 1996 and 2000. "I'm not going to count that out just yet, because I'm still young and still fresh and my body's still good," the 16-year-old Douglas said. "So, if all goes well, you'll be seeing more of me." In the meantime, we'll definitely be seeing more of Douglas in the coming months. She'll appear on Kellogg's cereal boxes soon, likely the first of many endorsements for one of the London Games most marketable stars.

[ Photos: USA sweetheart Gabby Douglas ]

Michael Phelps, swimming

What he did in London: Added four gold medals to his record haul, leaving him with 22 medals in his Olympic career
What's next: Michael Phelps says he's done with swimming and he intends to spend more time with his family and new girlfriend and fill his competitive itch by honing his golf game. His competitors? Well, let's just say they aren't convinced his retirement will stick. Ryan Lochte and Dara Torres are two swimmers who have said they think there's a possibility Phelps swims in Rio. Torres went so far as to ask on Twitter whether anyone would care to wager that Phelps doesn't stay retired. One of the replies came from Phelps himself. He took the bet.

Ryan Lochte, U.S. swimming

What he did in London: Won five medals including golds in the 400 IM and the 4x200 freestyle relay
What's next: Even though Lochte, 28, is a year older than Phelps, 27, he has no intention of retiring before the 2016 Rio Games. That doesn't mean that his focus will be solely on swimming the next four years though. Lochte says he wants to appear on "Dancing with the Stars" and he's open to other TV, media and endorsement opportunities that pop up. "I'm so used to being out there in a Speedo, that being on display is nothing new," Lochte told SI.com recently. "I'm looking forward to all of it."

[ Photos: Ryan Lochte's grill of victory ]

Lolo Jones, track and field

What she did in London: Fell short in her quest to win her first Olympic medal, finishing fourth in the women's 100-meter hurdles.
What's next: Even though she'll be 34 years old by the end of the Rio Games, Jones has not given up on her goal to win an Olympic medal. She told the Associated Press she intends to try to make the U.S. squad at the next two World Championships and the Olympics, noting that Gail Devers was 37 when she ran her final Olympic race. Jones also has no plans to be more cautious about accepting media requests even though her pre-Olympics marketing blitz fueled critics who claim she's more hype than substance. ''The Olympics are only once every four years so you have to take advantage of all your opportunities, both to be an inspiration to people and help support your sponsors who help you,'' she said.

[ Related: Lolo Jones breaks down in tears during 'Today' interview ]

Misty May-Treanor, beach volleyball

What she did in London: Won her third straight gold with partner Kerri Walsh Jennings
What's next: May-Treanor says Wednesday's gold-medal match was the last of her career. She intends to remain involved in beach volleyball in some capacity and to spend more time with close friend Walsh Jennings off the court, but the sport will no longer consume her life. "It's time for me to be a wife," said May, who is married to Dodgers catcher Matt Treanor. "I want to be a mom and share time with my family. All of us as athletes sacrifice more on the family end than people realize. And it's getting back to that."

Usain Bolt, track and field

What he did in London: Captured gold in the 100 and 200 meters for the second straight Olympics
What's next: Bolt cemented his legend status this week by becoming the first man to defend his 100 and 200 meters titles in back-to-back Olympics, but he says he's not ready to hang up his spikes. In a post-race interview with NBC on Thursday, Bolt acknowledged he has nothing left to prove, but insisted he will return for Rio 2016 to attempt to win a third straight gold in both events. In the meantime, Bolt has other, more unlikely goals in mind. Bolt will have the chance to fulfill one of his dreams when English Premier League juggernaut Manchester United gives him a tryout.

Allyson Felix (Getty Images)

Missy Franklin, swimming

What she did in London: Captured four gold medals including a world record in the 200 backstroke
What's next: Is it possible for a four-time gold medalist to lead a normal life in high school? Franklin, a senior-to-be at Regis Jesuit High in Centennial, Colo., insists it is. "My high school is so incredible," Franklin told reporters recently. "They all see me as Missy, and I don't think that's going to change at all. When I get back there, I'm just going to be regular old Missy again." So Franklin will enjoy prom, graduation and everything that goes with being a senior, but she'll train hard too. If London 2012 was Franklin's introduction to the world, then Rio 2016 could be her peak.

Allyson Felix, track and field

What she did in London: Took fourth in the 100 and first in the 200
What's next: When her sprinting career is over, Felix wants to follow in the footsteps of her mom Marlean Felix and become an elementary school teacher. Don't look for her to retire just yet though. "I think I have one more Games left in me," the 26-year-old told the Associated Press earlier this week. It will be interesting to see if Felix still has the same drive now that she has accomplished her lifelong goal of winning her first individual gold in the 200 meters. She's the best in the world in the 200 today, but going back-to-back at age 30 will not be easy.

[ Photos: Olympic crush Allyson Felix ]

Abby Wambach, U.S. women's soccer

What she did in London: Scored five goals to lead the U.S. to a gold medal
What's next: All the talk that this Olympics was Wambach's farewell tour may have been premature. She told ESPNW on Thursday that if she avoids serious injury and her level of play doesn't deteriorate, she intends to try to return for the 2015 World Cup and the Rio Games in 2016. "If I am welcomed by the coaches and can continue to play well for my country, my hopes are high," Wambach said. "Winning a gold here is extra incentive to come back and play for the first U.S. World Cup title since 1999."

Bradley Wiggins, Great Britain cycling

What he did in London: Validated his Tour de France title with victory in the Olympic time trial
What's next: The biggest challenge for Great Britain's most decorated Olympian may be coping with the media and public appearance demands that will eat into his training time after his incredible summer. "The challenge with a lot of guys who hit a peak, they go through all of that and while everyone else is training really, really hard, they're not," British cycling director Dave Brailsford told road.cc. "Not because they don't want to, it's just difficult to fit it all in." In the long-term future, Wiggins must decide if he's serious about returning to track cycling for the 2016 Rio Games. If so, he'll likely have to leave road cycling for at least a year to focus on the track and prove he's worthy of a spot on a British team that dominated the London Games.


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