sports

12 moments from the Rio Olympics that restored our faith in humanity.

The 2016 Rio Olympics has been an emotional roller coaster that – I think we can all agree – we were in no way prepared for.

As I sat there, a few nights in, watching the synchronised diving with my sister, I exclaimed “I CAN’T HANDLE HOW MUCH I LOVE THE OLYMPICS. HOW CAN ONE THING BE SO MUCH FUN?”

And more than a week later, I firmly stand by my outburst.

But on top of being unbelievably exciting and entertaining, the Rio Olympics has given us all of the feelings. In a world where 40 million people are displaced by war, where terror attacks have become a customary part of the news cycle, and where hate, violence, poverty and climate change seem to be an inevitable and terrifying feature of our futures, the Rio Olympics might just be what we all needed.

1. The introduction of the Refugee Olympic Team, and the incredible athletes within it.

The image of Ibrahim Al-Hussein, a Syrian refugee, carrying the Olympic flame through the Eleonas refugee and migrant camp as part of the 2016 torch relay, was a powerful and symbolic act performed upon the world stage.

The team was introduced by the United Nations Refugee Agency as an effort “to show solidarity with the world’s refugees”.

The Refugee Olympic Team at the Opening Ceremony. Image via Getty.

Before the Olympics even began, we heard the story of 18-year-old Yusra Mardini, who fled war torn Syria by boat less than a year ago. When the motor of the boat stopped working, Mardini and her sister, both strong swimmers, pushed the boat for over three hours until they reached Lesbos.

ADVERTISEMENT
Yusra Mardini less than a year after fleeing Syria. Image via Getty.

  2. The brotherhood between nations in conflict. 

Russia and the Ukraine have been engaged in conflict since 2014.

But that meant nothing to Russia's Davit Chakvetadze and the Ukraine's Zhan Beleniuk, who competed in the final of the men's 85kg Greco Roman wrestling.

A Ukrainian official said "The war is between politicians. The people, we are friends."

Davit Chakvetadze and Zhan Beleniuk shake hands. Image via Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

Chakvetadze insisted "Politics should not be mixed with sport" before embracing his competitor in an act of incredible brotherhood.

      3. Two Olympic runners epitomised the Olympic spirit. 

New Zealand's Nikki Hamblin tripped during the women's 5000 metre heat, clipping USA's Abbey D'Agostino in the process. As a result, they both fell to the ground. 

D'Agostino was the first to her feet, but instead of running ahead, she placed a hand on Hamblin's shoulder and said "Get up, get up, we have to finish this."

When D'Agostino fell only moments later, Hamblin helped her up, and waited before setting off again.

Hamblin said upon finishing the race, “I’m so impressed and inspired that she did that. I’ve never met her before. Like, I’ve never met this girl before. And isn’t that just so amazing? That’s an amazing moment."

    4. All the Olympians who kissed their kids after a win. 

After Australia won the Rugby Sevens (another incredible moment, obviously), Nicole Beck celebrated with her three-year-old daughter Sophie.

Nicole Beck with her daughter Sophie. Image via Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT
Michael Phelps ran over to kiss his 12-week-old baby

      5. German twins cross the finish line of the women's marathon holding hands. 

Lisa and Anna Hahner shared a once-in-a-lifetime moment, crossing the finish line of the 42km marathon hand in hand.

The twins did not run their best time, coming in 81st and 82nd place. But they describe the moment of finishing an Olympic race together as one of their "greatest sporting moments".

ADVERTISEMENT

      6. Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win a swimming event at the Olympics. 

Simone Manuel, USA, won a gold medal 100m freestyle, making her the first black woman to ever win an Olympic medal in an individual swimming event.

Manuel said "...it means a lot. I mean, this medal’s not just for me, it’s for a whole bunch of people who have come before me and have been an inspiration to me… and for all the people after me who believe they can’t do it. And I just want to be an inspiration to others that you can do it.”

ADVERTISEMENT

What an absolute legend.

      7. Fu. Just Fu. 

Everyone has fallen in love with Fu Yuanhui, the hilarious Chinese swimmer who discovered during a post swim interview that she had won a bronze medal.

 Fu said to the reporter, "What I want to share is that even though I did not win a medal...", to which she responded "But you got a medal. You are third."

The look on Fu's face had the whole world in stitches. She was absolutely blown away by how fast she'd swam.

Then, after placing fourth in the women's medley, Fu told the reporter "...my period came yesterday, I’m feeling a bit tired, but this is not an excuse." With one comment, she addressed an enormous taboo in women's sport, and introduced the tampon as a talking point in Chinese culture.

     8. The new beach volleyball outfits.

 

Just before the London 2012 Olympics, the uniform rules for beach volleyball were changed.

In Rio, members of the Egyptian women's team have competed in leggings, matching tops and a hijab. And this image perfectly represents the coming together of two different cultures.

Competitor Doaa Elghobashy said "I have worn the hijab for 10 years. It doesn't keep me away from the things I love to do, and beach volleyball is one of them."

The Egyptian beach volleyball team. Image via Getty.

9. Kyle Chalmers' grandparents reacting to his gold medal win. 

The video of Kyle Chalmers' grandmother and grandfather watching his 100m freestyle win is one of the best things that has happened not only in the Rio Olympics, but potentially in the history of the world.

    10. Fiji and Puerto Rico won their first gold medals. 

After Fiji won their first ever medal, which also happened to be gold, in the men's rugby sevens, celebrations erupted all over the country.

More than 4000 fans packed into the ANZ stadium in Suva, where flares were set off and people danced in the streets.

In addition, this bank took a necessary 30 minute break.

Monica Puig also won Puerto Rico's first gold medal in the women's singles tennis.

      11. Andelinde Cornelissen bowed out mid event to protect her horse. 

Andelinde Cornelissen of the Netherlands saluted the arena and took herself out of the dressage event, after her horse fell ill.

In a Facebook post she wrote: "My buddy, my friend, the horse that has given everything for me his whole life does not deserve this…"

12. Simone Biles being a goddamn Olympic hero.

Okay, so I'm definitely cheating with number 12 given that Simone Biles literally represents about two million incredible Olympic moments, but it is impossible to write a list about the 2016 Rio Olympics and not include THE Simone Biles.

On top of being the world's best gymnast, this week an NBC anchor suggested that her adoptive parents (her grandparents adopted her in 2001) were "NOT her parents” to which Biles simply responded "...my parents are my parents, and that’s it.”

Simone Biles' flawless floor routine. Video continues after post. 

Video by USA Gymnastics

The Rio Olympics have not only brought more than 11,000 athletes from 206 different countries together, but also millions upon millions of spectators.

The games have shown us that human beings are strong, resilient and empathetic. We can do such incredible things.

It does not matter the colour of one's skin, or their class, or the nation they come from, because on the sporting field, all are equal.

These are but a few Olympic moments that have absolutely restored our faith in humanity.

Featured image: Getty.

00:00 / ???