LONDON - They've carried the Olympic load for Canada over multiple Games. For a few of them, London was their last.
Triathlete Simon Whitfield, cyclist and speedskater Clara Hughes, diver Alexandre Despatie and paddler Adam van Koeverden were prominent faces on Canada's 2012 Olympic team coming into these Games.
They're recognizable to Canadians because of their durability, performances past and present, and the profile they've built up over the years.
They spoke for the Canadian team in London, drawing on their experience to provide a window on what goes through the hearts and minds of athletes in the defining event of their careers.
This was six Olympics, both winter and summer, for Hughes. Make that four for Whitfield and Despatie and three for van Koeverden.
They're friends, judging from the way they talk about each other and the Twitter traffic between them.
"I'm just stoked to be mentioned in that group," Whitfield said. "You spend time around Alex and Clara and that group of people, that's a great group."
It was the final Games for Hughes, 39, Whitfield, 37, and 27-year-old Despatie. They have 10 Olympic medals between them, including two gold. None were able to cap their Olympic careers with one in London.
You could include swimmer Brent Hayden in that group as well, although the 28-year-old's narrative is somewhat different. The Mission, B.C., athlete captured his first Olympic medal at his third and final Games, winning bronze in the 100-metre freestyle.
"You spend some time around Brent Hayden, he's just a big, gentle, giant," Whitfield said. "A great dude."
Van Koeverden is 30 and that's young in kayak racing. The man who beat van Koeverden for gold in the 1,000 metres was 36.
The owner of four medals now, van Koeverden would continue to be the face of Canada's Olympic team should he choose to continue to 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
It sounds as though the Oakville, Ont., paddler would miss having Despatie, Hughes and Whitfield on the Canadian team with him.
Van Koeverden shed a tear while speaking of Whitfield's race in London, which ended early when the triathlete crashed out during the bike leg. Van Koeverden wanted to have Whitfield's name on his boat for the kayak final the day after the men's triathlon.
"I didn't have marker so I just wrote it with my finger on my (boat) deck," van Koeverden said. "And I thought 'This one's for the Whitfield legacy.'"
Whitfield put an exclamation point on his legacy, taking to task the coach and some of the support staff around teammate Paula Findlay in women's triathlon. Findlay, 23, finished last after dealing with a hip injury that had lingered for over a year.
Wielding the clout that comes with Olympic gold and silver medals, Whitfield issued to wake-up call to those tasked with developing a young triathlon talent who can be a medal contender in 2016.
Hughes and van Koeverden are both ambassadors for Right To Play, an organization promoting development through sport. They spent eight days in Mali last year.
After two cycling bronze and another four medals in speedskating, Hughes ended her Olympic career finishing fifth in the time trial. The Glen Sutton, Que., cyclist raced with a cracked vertebra suffered in training this spring.
"It didn't matter to me that she came fifth," van Koeverden said. "I was like 'Whatever, she's the best.' I don't care where she comes, she's amazing. I've learned so much from her."
When Whitfield asked Hughes how she felt about the result of her last Olympic race, he was inspired by the answer.
"She said, and these were her words: 'I lived the Olympic deal. I gave my everything. I'm happy.' As Clara is always able to do, she's able to verbalize exactly the way I thought," Whitfield said.
Despatie may compete at the world championships in Barcelona next year, but diving is a young man's sport because of the pounding the body takes when hitting the water.
The Laval, Que., athlete has literally grown up in front of Canada's eyes, starting in 1998 when he won Commonwealth Game gold as a 13-year-old sprite. He was the first Canadian man to win Olympic medals in diving with silver in both 2004 and 2008.
Whitfield and Despatie exchanged tweets following their events earlier this week. Despatie said it was "an honour and privilege to have been an Olympian with you."
Despatie's training for these Games took a hit because of a head injury he suffered during training in June. Fluently bilingual and an aspiring actor, Despatie's profile extended beyond his home province of Quebec.
"Alex is one of my best buddies, an amazing guy," van Koeverden said.
Christine Sinclair carried the flag for Canada and the hosts staged another star-studded show to close off the London Games.
Canada's athletes celebrate at the Olympic Closing Ceremony. (Frank Gunn/CP)
Christine Sinclair carries the flag for Canada at the Olympic Closing Ceremony. (CP/Frank Gunn)
British band 'The Spice Girls' perform during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Posh At The Games
Victoria Beckham performs as Posh Spice with British band The Spice Girls during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Strut Their Stuff
British model Naomi Campbell, fourth right, walks with other models during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Still Got It
Brian May, guitarist of the British rock band Queen, performs during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Baby, You're A Firework
Fireworks explode over the Olympic Stadium at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
The Olympic flag is handed over to the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, the host of the 2016 Olympic Games. (AP)
Soak It All In
French athletes sit and watch as the Olympic Closing Ceremony come to a close. (AP)
An athlete holds up the British flag during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
And after 16 days or winning, losing, scoring and missing, the London Games have come to an end. Canada's medal count remained at 18, while the U.S. would go on to to win a gold in men's basketball. Russia defeated Brazil in men's volleyball to take home a gold and the Italian men's water polo team fell to their Croatian counterparts to secure a silver medal.
Spain's Got Game
Spain's Sergio Llull reacts during the men's gold medal basketball game against USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Kiss The Podium
Members of the gold medallist team from Russia kiss the podium during the rhythmic gymnastics group all-around final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Alekno's In The Air
Members of team Russia lift their coach, Vladimir Alekno, into the air after defeating Brazil in a men's gold medal volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Right Jab To the Face
Russia's Egor Mekhontcev, right, fights Kazakhstan's Adilbek Niyazymbetov in a light heavyweight 81-kg gold medal boxing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. Mekhontcev won the gold and Niyazymbetov won the silver.
Gold-medalist Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, left, competes with Kenya's bronze-medalist Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich, center, and silver-medalist Abel Kirui in the men's marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Pink And In Sync
The team from Russia performs during the rhythmic gymnastics group all-around final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Cuba's Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana reacts after being declared the winner over Mongolia's Tugstsogt Nyambayar in their flyweight 52-kg gold medal boxing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Italy's Emanuele Birarelli (15) reacts following the final point of a 3-1 win over Bulgaria in the men's bronze medal volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
There's A Reason The Call Him King James
United States' LeBron James dunks during a men's gold medal basketball game against Spain at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
The Smell Of Sweet, Sweet Victory
Croatia's Ivan Buljubasic sniffs his flowers after receiving his gold medal at the men's water polo gold medal ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. Croatia beat Italy 8-6 in the gold medal game.
Canada wins yet another bronze medal in men's K1 200m kayak event, and Mexico defeats Brazil for the gold medal in men's soccer. Canada had an another Olympic upset and lost the bronze medal in the 4x100 relay due to a disqualification. Jamaica set a world record.
Tearin' Up Our Hearts
Canada's Justyn Warner is comforted after the team was disqualified from third place in the men's 4x100-meter relay.
Jamaican Us Crazy
Jamaica's Usain Bolt reacts as he finishes ahead of United States' Ryan Bailey in the men's 4 x 100-meter relay.
Britain's Mo Farah kisses the track after winning gold in the men's 5000-meter final during the athletics.
Love On Top
Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan celebrates after he beat Jaime Yusept Espinal of Puerto Rico for the gold medal during the men's 84-kg freestyle wrestling competition.
Race Walk It Out
Russia's Elena Lashmanova celebrates winning the women's 50-kilometer race walk.
United States mb Foluke Akinradewo, left, and Destinee Hooker react during the women's gold medal volleyball match against Brazil.
Hwang Woojin, of South Korea, and his horse Shearwater Oscar, fall down after the horse bucked after the starting bell sounded to start their run in the equestrian show jumping stage of the men's modern pentathlon.
From left to right Spain's Elliot 6m crew Angela Pumariega, Sofia Toro Prieto, and Tamara Echegoyen celebrate after winning the gold medal at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, in Weymouth and Portland, England. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Mexico's Hector Herrera (6) and Mexico's Oribe Peralta (9) celebrate winning the gold medal with teammates in the men's soccer final against Brazil.
Bronze medallist Belarus' Liubou Charkashyna cries after a performance during the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final.
Gold Medal Ribbon
Russia's Daria Dmitrieva performs during the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final.
Settles For Seventh
Canada's Catharine Pendrel (2) competes in the Mountain Bike Cycling women's race.
Australia's Got Talent
Australia's Jared Tallent competes in the men's 50-kilometer race walk.
Jake Herbert of the United State competes against Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan (in blue) during the men's 120-kg freestyle wrestling competition.
Amro El Geziry of Egypt, left, and Nicholas Woodbridge of Great Britain swim the 200-meter freestyle during the swimming portion of the men's modern pentathlon.
Fencing Is Modern
Britain's Samuel Weale looks up during the fencing section of the men's modern pentathlon.
Canada wins another bronze in men's open-water marathon and placed 4th in synchronized swimming. U.S. women's team set a world record in the 4 x 100 relay and Bahamas beat the men's team in the last stretch of the race.
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius competes in the men's 4x400-meter relay final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium.
Bahamas' Ramon Miller beats United States' Angelo Taylor across the line to win the men's 4 x 400-meter relay.
France's Renaud Lavillenie clears the bar in the men's pole vault final during the athletics.
Kenya's Hellen Onsando Obiri leaps over United States' Morgan Uceny during the women's 1500-meter final during the athletics.
United States' Morgan Uceny reacts after falling during the women's 1500-meter final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa De Olza)
Throw It Up
South Korea's head coach Hong Myung-bo is hoisted up by his players after the team won their men's soccer bronze medal match.
They've Got The Beat
The team from Russia performs during the rhythmic gymnastics group all-around qualifications at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Bump, Set, Boom
Bulgaria's Viktor Yosifov (12) spikes home a point against Russia during a men's volleyball semifinal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Brazil's Squel Stein is carried off the field in a stretcher during a BMX cycling women's semifinal run at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. Stein fell off her bike after she landed on the grass following a big jump in the first half of the course. The 21-year-old Stein secured her best result in a major competition earlier this year when she reached the world championships final. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
The team from Russia competes during the synchronized swimming team free routine final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. Russia won the gold medal in the event. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Swimmers dive into the Serpentine to start the men's 10-kilometer marathon swimming competition in Hyde Park at the 2012 Summer Olympics Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)