Olympics 2012: Which Team USA Athletes Sport a Tattoo? (PHOTOS)

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Olympians compete for a chance to head home with a medal around their neck.

But there's a new badge of honor that many elite athletes are embracing as a symbol of Games success: A tattoo of the trademark Olympic rings.

Some of Team USA's top heroes sport the worldwide-known logo.

Record-setting swimming champ Michael Phelps, who recently became the most decorated Olympian with 19 medals after taking the fold in the men's 2x400m, sports an inking of the five interlocking Olympic rings on his right hipbone.

His rising-star teammate, Ryan Lotche, bears the same symbol on his right triceps.

Now after representing her country on the world stage, Missy Franklin is gearing up to get the rings tattoo, calling it one of her "big motivations" for making the 2012 United States Olympic swimming team in seven events, according to Reuters.

And it's not just swimmers who are jumping on the body art bandwagon.

Gymnast Jonathan Horton, who won a silver medal in the high bar at Beijing in 2008, adorned his bulging upper back with the logo, along with the letters USA. Archer Khatuna Lorig proudly wears her Olympic rings on her right forearm. Hurdler Joanna Hayes sports the symbol, along with a dove and biblical passage, on her upper right thigh.

So how did this trend come about?

It is believed to be trace back to Olympian Chris Jacobs, who won three medals at the 1988 Seoul Games.

The triumphant swimmer admired the maple leaf tattoo on the chest of the Canadian breaststroker Victor Davis, according to the New York Times. On his way home from South Korea, Jacobs stopped over in Hawaii, where he got the Olympic rings inked near his racing suit line.

Take a look at the athletes who have taken part in the body adornment ritual in our gallery above.

What do you think of this Olympics rite of passage? Sound off in comments.

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  • short story
    short story

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  • Blumizu
    Blumizu

    The "M" is for Michigan University, where he went to College and swam.