After more than two week’s of unbelievable entertainment, the Rio Olympics have come to a close. We’ve looked back at 10 magical moments from an Olympics to remember.
Hoang Xuan Vinh begins with a bang
Vietnam had gone 64 years without winning a gold but had to wait just one day of the Rio Olympics for their country’s first ever gold medal to be secured.
Hoang Xuan Vinh’s near-perfect final shot in the men’s 10m air pistol saw Vietnam get off to a dream start in Rio.
The 41-year-old Vinh would add silver in 50m pistol competition, making him the first Vietnamese athlete to win two Olympic medals.
Fiji strike gold
Watching Fiji win gold in the men’s Rugby Sevens was simply magical. Ben Ryan’s team obliterated Great Britain in the final with play of the highest order; it was ‘poetry in motion’.
What made the achievement even more poignant was that it wasn’t just a first gold medal for Fiji, but a medal of any colour for the small Pacific island nation.
The legend of Phelps only grows
A swimmer aged 31 is considered to be somewhat passed it – unless you’re Michael Phelps that is. The American returned from retirement to set Rio alight.
Phelps added a further five golds and one silver to his incredible record haul of 28 Olympic medals as he continued his dominance of the pool.
We also saw another side of Phelps, Phelps the father. With his young son Boomer in the crowd, Phelps swam like the legend he is and left in an emotional farewell befitting of his greatness.
Simone, the name written in gold
Don’t be surprised to see a boom in the number of babies named ‘Simone’, particularly in the USA, following the Rio Olympics.
Simone Manuel became the first African American woman to win a swimming gold medal in an individual event when she won the 100m freestyle, while Simone Biles set the world of gymnastics alight on her way to claiming four golds and a bronze.
Schooling’s magical moment
After the disappointment of failing to progress from his heat in London four years ago, Joseph Schooling made his mark in Rio.
The Singapore swimming sensation out-swam a field that contained the legendary Michael Phelps and world champion Chad le Clos on his way to taking gold in the men’s 100m butterfly.
At just 21, Schooling should be delighting his fans across the world, from Singapore to his base in Texas, for many years to come.
Golf excites despite absentees
All the talk leading up to the Olympics was those who would be absent from the men’s field on golf’s return to the Olympics. With the curtain now drawn on the event, the likes of Jason Day and Rory McIlroy couldn’t be less relevant.
Justin Rose won gold in the men’s event, just pipping Henrik Stenson in an action-packed finale, while Inbee Park put on a show of excellence to win the women’s gold.
Only time will tell whether enough was done to repair golf’s image ahead of the 2020 Olympics, but even if this was one fleeting moment of Olympic golf action, it was one to remember.
“Get up, get up, we have to finish this”
Perhaps the moment that exemplified the Olympic spirit the most in Rio was when Abbey D’Agostino of the United States and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin helped each other from the floor after the pair had collided during the 5000m heats.
Both women would go on to finish, with D’Agostino incredibly doing so despite a torn ACL, sprained MCL and torn meniscus.
Not surprisingly, the pair were presented with the Pierre de Coubertin medal, awarded to those who exemplify the Olympic spirit.
Neymar and Brazil find redemption
Brazilian football had its cathartic moment on Saturday when Neymar scored the winning penalty to secure gold for the host nation in front of 80,000 fans at the Maracana.
Two years ago at the World Cup, Brazil had left the Belo Horizonte humiliated after being thumped 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals. Those wounds were still very much open heading into the Olympics, but Neymar and his men rose to the occasion after an inauspicious start to claim gold.
Bolt finishes on top
There has never been one quite like him, and there won’t be another one anytime soon. Usain Bolt completed the ‘triple triple’ in Rio, winning the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m, as he had done in Beijing and London previously.
But with Bolt it’s not just what he does, but how he does it. The ease with which the Jamaican appeared to leave his rivals in his dust makes for unbelievable viewing.
Bolt’s speed and swagger will certainly be missed.
Rio comes through
The Rio Olympics was not without its fair share of controversy; from green pools to suspect boxing judges to crime (real and imagined) and poor attendances, the Olympics were far from perfect. But they were brilliant too.
Perhaps it’s the very makeup of the Olympics that inspires and excites regardless of the setting, but Rio will not be remembered for Zika or for half-empty stadiums, it will be remembered for Bolt, for Phelps, for Ledecky, for Biles, for Schooling, for the eight countries that won gold for the first time, and for the countless acts of bravery, excellence, and entertainment.