The Most Inspiring Moments from the 2016 Olympics In Rio
In Honor of the Olympic Spirit
As the Rio Olympics come to a close, let's reflect back on all the moments that made this a memorable Games. Yes, there was plenty of drama—there will always be drama when it comes to the Olympics. But this isn't about the doping scandals, social media bullying, alleged crimes, Zika worries, and infrastructure disasters; it's about the athletes, and the incredibly inspirational moments that (without fail) arise during each Olympic Games. Remember: It's not always about ~slaying~ the competition (even though Team USA kicked major ass), but it's about how you play the game.
When Sportsmanship Trascended International Boundaries
In a qualifying race for the women's track and field 5000m event, a chain event led to a pileup that left American runner Abbey D'Agostino and New Zealand's Nikki Hamblin on the ground. D'Agostino stopped to help Hamblin up before continuing the race, making it the ultimate #sportsmanshipgoals moment of the Games. (Watch the touching video here.)
D'Agostino was unable to compete in the finals after the wreck left her ACL torn. But living on as an image of true Olympic spirit? (Almost) better than any medal.
When the "Iron Lady" of Hungary Crushed Records and Scored Gold
Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu left the 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing, and 2012 London Games empty-handed, despite the fact that she's an 11-time world champion. Finally, she took home an Olympic gold medal in the 400 individual medley during the Rio Games. But that's not all she nabbed; Hosszu's 400 IM finish also broke the world record for that event, and came along with a gold in the 100m backstroke and 200m IM, and silver in the 200m backstroke. Her determination and stamina in the pool has earned her the nickname the "Iron Lady," and finally scored her some well-deserved medals. We'll bet they were worth the wait.
The Woman Who Blazed a (Daring) Trail for India's Gymnasts
This year, Dipa Karmakar became the first-ever female gymnast to represent India at the Olympic Games—and she didn't do it gently. She became one of just five gymnasts to ever land the "Vault of Death," or the Produnova vault, and qualified for the event finals where she ranked fourth—less than a point away from gold-medalist Simone Biles.
To be the first athlete from your country to represent a sport? That's pretty damn inspirational. And to do it by landing this insane vault? Just, wow.
Refugees Were Given Their Own Opporuntiy to Shine
The International Olympic Committee welcomed a new team to the Olympic stage: the Refugee Olympic Team, which is the first-ever team made up of refugees from around the world who received funding to be able to train for and compete in the Rio Games.
Some of the female athletes included 1500m runner Anjaline Nadai Lohalith from South Sudan; 800m runner Rose Nathike Lokonyen from South Sudan, judo athlete Yolande Bukasa Mabika from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and 100m freestyle swimmer Yusra Mardini from Syria. While they didn't leave Rio with any medals, they made history—and received one of the biggest rounds of applause at the Opening Ceremony.
Hijabs Were Welcomed in Several Sports
Ibtihaj Muhammed was the first woman to represent Team USA while wearing a hijab—but she wasn't the only one competing in traditional clothing against a sport's norms. Egyptian beach volleyball player Doaa Elghobashy received media attention for sticking to her Muslim roots and covering her arms and head during her match with the bikini-clad Italian team.
An Ethiopian Steeplechaser Finished Her Race with Just One Shoe
Ethiopoia's Etenesh Diro was a medal contender in the 3000m steeplechase—but during her qualifying race, a collision with a fellow runner forced her to ditch one of her spikes and socks and finish the race in seventh place with one shoe. She had to lodge an appeal to the International Association of Athletics Federation to appear in the final, and though she finished in 15th place, she became a hero in steeplechase for her epic finish.
Puerto Rico Won Their First-Ever Medal
Ladies singles tennis player Monica Puig scored Puerto Rico their first-ever gold medal. She wasn't the only woman to bring home her country's first gold from the Rio games; Majlinda Kelmendi of Kosovo won gold (Kosovo's first medal) in the 52kg judo weight class. (Team USA's ladies apparently weren't the only ones showing off their #girlpower and absolutely killing it at the Games.)