How tattoos of the Olympic motif has become a rite of passage among the sporting elite

If you want it, put a ring on it! How tattoos of the Olympic motif have become a rite of passage among the sporting elite

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UPDATED:

23:11 GMT, 31 July 2012

While medals carry their weight, it seems that an Olympic tattoo is now the sign of true sporting success.

At least, that seems to be the school of thought among the world's top Olympic heroes who have inked the trademark Olympic Games rings on their fit physiques.

Athletes including the record-breaking U.S. gold medalist Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and swimmer Elizabeth Beisel, who each sport tattoos of the logo on their bodies.

For life: Olympic athletes are branding themselves with tattoos of the trademark Olympic Games rings, seen above on Canadian swimmer Alexa Komarnycky. Other Olympians include Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte

For life: Olympic athletes are branding themselves with tattoos of the trademark Olympic Games rings, seen above on Canadian swimmer Alexa Komarnycky. Other Olympians include Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte

Like something of a right of passage, tattooing oneself with the instantly-recognisable rings often occurs once an athlete has competed successfully at an Olympic Games.

Michael Phelps, who today became the greatest Olympian of all time after winning his 19th medal, a gold, in the men's 2x400m, sports a tattoo on his right hipbone.

America's fellow male swimming star, Ryan Lochte, also sports a tattoo on the inside of his right arm, often seen in the pool when he performs backstroke.

Female Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel, another member of Team USA, has her own version of the rings stamped onto her upper right thigh.

Michael Phelps: The champion swimmer, above, has a colourful tattoo of the Olympic rings on his right hipbone

Michael Phelps: The champion swimmer, above, has a colourful tattoo of the Olympic rings on his right hipbone

Michael Phelps: The champion swimmer, above, has a colourful tattoo of the Olympic rings on his right hipbone

Ryan Lochte: The extremely marketable U.S. swimmer, above, has a tattoo on the inside of his right arm

Ryan Lochte: The extremely marketable U.S. swimmer, above, has a tattoo on the inside of his right arm

Ryan Lochte: The extremely marketable U.S. swimmer, above, has a tattoo on the inside of his right arm

Elizabeth Beisel: The U.S. pool star, above, branded her upper right thigh with the Olympic rings as well

Elizabeth Beisel: The U.S. pool star, above, branded her upper right thigh with the Olympic rings as well

Elizabeth Beisel: The U.S. pool star, above, branded her upper right thigh with the Olympic rings as well

U.S. Olympic gymnast Jonathan Horton, who won a silver medal in the high bar at Beijing in 2008, is yet another tattooed sportsman.

His upper back features an image of the rings as well as the letters U.S.A.

Dana Vollmer, a gold medalist, has a tattoo of the Olympic rings on the small of her back.

Several Canadians have also followed the trend, as pointed out by NY Daily News.

Long-distance swimmer Ryan Cochrane has a tattoo of the rings on the left side of his upper back.

He is an Olympics bronze medalist.

Female swimmer Julia Wilkinson has also been branded on her upper left thigh, which is noticeable when the sporting star wears high-waisted swimming costumes.

She is known for swimming backstroke, freestyle and medleys and broke the Canadian national record in 100m backstroke in 2008.

Strength: U.S. gymnast Jonathan Horton, seen in the men's team final, also has a similar tattoo on his back

Strength: U.S. gymnast Jonathan Horton, seen in the men's team final, also has a similar tattoo on his back

Variation: Mr Horton's tattoo, above, also includes the letters USA written above the popular Olympic rings

Variation: Mr Horton's tattoo, above, also includes the letters USA written above the popular Olympic rings

Following suit: Dana Vollmer, above, who is a gold medalist, has a tattoo of her own on the small of her back

Following suit: Dana Vollmer, above, who is a gold medalist, has a tattoo of her own on the small of her back

Following suit: Dana Vollmer, above, who is a gold medalist, has a tattoo of her own on the small of her back

Julia Wilkinson: The Canadian swimmer, above, has an Olympic rings tattoo on her upper left thigh

Julia Wilkinson: The Canadian swimmer, above, has an Olympic rings tattoo on her upper left thigh

Julia Wilkinson: The Canadian swimmer, above, has an Olympic rings tattoo on her upper left thigh

Australian champion swimmer Stephanie Rice has her own tattoo on the inside of her right arm.

The rings are accompanied by the words Beijing 2008, where Miss Rice won three gold medals in the pool.

French swimmer Alain Bernard has interpreted the rings his own way.

The buff star, who has won three Olympic medals in the pool, has had a further design inked on his skin that surrounds the symbolic logo.

Tamas Varga, a water polo player from Hungary, has branded his own skin with the rings as well as the words Beijing 2008.

The Games' mascot for that year is also pictured above, as is further text.

Alain Bernard: The French pool star, above, has decorated his own rings with a further design around the logo

Alain Bernard: The French pool star, above, has decorated his own rings with a further design around the logo

Alain Bernard: The French pool star, above, has decorated his own rings with a further design around the logo

Tamas Varga: The Hungarian water polo player, above, inked a 'Beijing 2008' version of the popular tattoo

Tamas Varga: The Hungarian water polo player, above, inked a 'Beijing 2008' version of the popular tattoo

Tamas Varga: The Hungarian water polo player, above, inked a 'Beijing 2008' version of the popular tattoo

German swimmer Sarah Poewe also has a rings tattoo; hers is located on her right upper thigh.

The number 2008, referring to the Beijing Games held that year, is written just beneath it.

Canadian swimmer Alexa Komarnycky also has the rings inked on the back of her neck.