We revelled at the Summer Games in Tokyo, witnessing historic moments of grit, determination, passion, hard work and spirit of sportsmanship. A few endearing moments made a mark and will be remembered as the true testament to what Olympics mean and entail.
From US gymnast Simone Biles speaking out and prioritising her mental health, the German women’s gymnastic team taking a stand against the sexualisation of their bodies to a 12-year-old becoming the youngest gold medallist in a skateboarding event, the Tokyo Games gave us some of the most inspiring moments that we will cherish for a long time.
With the Games declared closed, here are some of the moments that will be remembered for a long time coming.
Pep talk from one athlete to another
Triathlete Lotte Miller, who finished 24th, was seen giving a words of encourgament to a defeated rival Claire Michel, who finished last with a time of 2 hours, 11 minutes and 5 seconds.
“You’re a f—ing fighter. This is Olympic spirit, and you’ve got it 100%,” Miller told Michel.
Wedding bells ahoy
At least two athletes got engaged during this year’s Summer Games. Argentine fencer Maria Belen Perez Maurice was proposed to by her coach and long-term partner, Lucas Saucedo. With a sign behind her, he proposed: “Te queres casar conmigo??? Po favo” – which translates to “Will you marry me??? Please.”
“I said yes, of course,” Perez Maurice said.
The other athlete was a Canadian diver, Jennifer Abel, who got engaged upon her return to Montreal on August 2. She took home the silver medal in the women’s three-metre synchronised springboard event. On arrival, she was greeted at the airport by David Lemieux, who is her partner.
Jennifer nodded her heart in affirmative and the couple embraced each other in a hug shortly after.
Olympic diver Tom Daley, an LGBTQ icon
Olympic diver Tom Daley, along with his teammate Matty Lee won the men’s synchronized 10-meter competition. Addressing a press conference, he said that he is hopeful that his Olympic win will be a message to young LGBTQ people that “you can achieve anything.
“I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone and that you can achieve anything,” he said.
His knitting sessions, too, was a huge hit among fans.
A spontaneous standing ovation
Oksana Chusovitina, a 46-year-old gymnast from Uzbekistan, received a standing ovation after competing in vault during the women’s artistic gymnastics qualifications.
Oksana scored 14.166 and failed to qualify for the final. Even though, the International Federation of Gymnastics tweeted that there was “not a dry eye in the house” as she bowed out after the qualifications.
The legend of Simone Biles
“I say put mental health first because if you don’t then you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to,” Biles said.
“So it’s okay sometimes to even sit out the big competitions…rather than just battle through it,” she added.
The USA finished in second place as they marked its first loss since 2010; Russian won the event. But Simone went over to the Russian camp and congratulated them on their gold medal-winning performance.
“I even wrote her a message of support. Because I think it’s such a pity and I really hope that she will get better because I admire her gymnastics,” Angelina Melkinova told Washington Post.
One event, one friendship, two golds
High jumpers Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy agreed to share a gold medal after both of them cleared a jump of 2.37 meters but failed to clear the next bar.
“I still can’t believe it happened. Sharing with a friend is even more beautiful. … It was just magical,” Associated Press quoted Tamberi as saying.
“I know for a fact that… I deserve that gold… I know he deserved that gold. This is beyond sport. This is the message we deliver to the young generation,” Barshim said.
Sportmanship at its very best
Misugu Okamoto, a 15-year-old skateboarder, who was leading the charts, failed on her final run and dropped to the fourth place.
However, the other competitors rushed to her, consoled her and carried her on their shoulders. Okamoto said she was “grateful” for the gesture.
Athletes in arms
When Tatjana Schoenmaker, a swimmer from South Africa, stormed her way to a historic win in the women’s 200m breaststroke, she threw her arms up in the air in celebration. What made her world record-breaking time memorable is when her rivals crossed their own lanes and hugged Schoenmaker in celebration.