Why a rare handful of sports stars walk away in their prime

Bjorn Borg, 26: Multiple Grand Slam-title winner who retired at the age of 26, citing mental burnout. He made a short comeback in his mid-30s.

Ian Thorpe, 24: Announced his retirement from swimming at the age of 24 in 2006. Returned in 2011 to attempt qualification for the 2012 London Olympics.

Casey Stoner, 27: A year after winning his second MotoGP world champion crown in 2011, Stoner quit the sport, saying he no longer enjoyed racing on the world circuit.

Gabriella Sabatini, 26: In a decade at the top, the US Open winner spent 508 consecutive weeks within the world’s top 10 before retiring in 1996.

Shane Gould, 16: At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Gould won three gold medals (and set new world records), and won a silver and a bronze. But she retired soon after, unwilling to handle the public and media pressure.

Mark Ella, 25: One of the famous Ella brothers, Mark played for Australia for only four years before quitting rugby. He is still routinely listed as one of the Wallabies’ greatest ever players.

Justine Henin, 26: Former world NNo.1 who elected to walk away while still at the top.

Michael Jordan, 30: Shocked the world by announcing his retirement from the NBA, and a decision to play baseball. He returned three years later and won more NBA titles.

Lorena Ochoa, 28: The Mexican golfer stunned the world in 2014 when she retired at 28, after dominating the women’s tour for the previous three years with a string of titles, including two Majors. 

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