Rio 2016, the games of the XXXI Olympiad have been run, swum and won. Adhering to the Olympic tradition construction ran well behind schedule, seats were vacant at major events, controversies abounded and large sections of the population were displaced for giant stadiums. Nevertheless Rio has provided us with the best Olympics since London 2012 and many moments to remember.
In the year when ‘The Greatest’ left us, many Olympians used Rio to lay their claims to the now vacant position. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt became the first sprinter to complete a triple treble by winning Gold in the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay at 3 consecutive Olympics. While he has proclaimed himself the current ‘Greatest,’ American swimmer Michael Phelps may have something to say about that, as he became the most decorated Olympian in history, collecting his 28th medal, of which 23 are gold and 16 of those individual. Fellow American Simone Biles leaves Brasil with a record equalling 4 gold medals and the admiration of the gymnastics world after dominating Rio. Finally, British runner Mo Farah, a favourite from the London Olympics successfully defended his 5,000m and 10,000m runs and became only the second athlete to do so.
The dreams of countries large and small were realised at Rio 2016 with many walking away with the first Olympic medals. Fiji, competing at their 14th Olympic games, have never come close to winning a medal. However with the introduction of Rugby 7’s, which just happens to be their national sport, the time was right and the Fijians celebrated their victory over Great Britain in true pacific island style. Monica Puig is a name that even the most diehard tennis fans would struggle to recognise. The Puerto Rican, with has only 2 WTA titles to her name, now boasts an Olympic gold after defeating world no. 2 Angelique Kerber in the final. One of the most unconventional gold medal wins was Bahaman runner Shaunae Miller, whose desperate dive at the finish line in the 400m saw her win her first ever Olympic medal and the first for a Bahaman woman since 2004. Another controversial victory was that of South African Caster Semenya, who bettered her silver at London, with gold in the 800m. Semenya famously underwent gender testing in 2009 and has never been far from the headlines since.
Finally, host country Brasil were surprisingly chasing their first ever football gold at Rio. After a humiliating 7-1 defeat by Germany in their home World Cup only 2 years ago, Brasil came face to face with their nemesis in the gold medal match. A crowd of 78,000 packed into Maracana stadium. At full time scores were tied at 1-1, but this time around the Brasilians were crying tears of joy when Neymar scored the winning penalty for Brasil to win 5-4 and the gold.
Known colloquially as the ‘fourth medal,’ the Pierre de Coubertin medal is awarded to the athlete who best embodies the Olympic spirit and has been awarded only 17 times since its introduction in 1964. New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin is the favourite to win, after she stopped mid-race to assist American Abbey D’Agostino who fell after locking feet with Hamblin. Unsurprisingly neither Hamblin nor D’Agostino came close to winning the race, but did win the admiration of the Rio crowd. The Chinese swim team finally won the hearts of the public at Rio, when Qin Kai proposed to his girlfriend He Zi. Qin left Rio with a bronze medal, while Zi gained a silver and a diamond. David Katoatau finished 6th in the men’s weightlifting, however may shift to dancing at the next Olympics. Katoatau celebrated his lift with a dance in an attempt to raise the awareness of climate change on his home nation Kirabati.
The American swimmer will won’t be returning to Brasil anytime soon after falsely alleging he was mugged after a drunken night out. Channelling golfer Robert Allenby’s Hawaiian antics of 2015, Lochte and friends vandalised a bathroom at a petrol station and were then forced at gunpoint to hand over money to pay for the damages. The group initially claimed they were mugged and that Lochte had a gun pointed at his head, however police soon established the truth, though not before Lochte was safe back in the USA.
No, it wasn’t the consequence of a Chinese swimmer peeing in the pool, rather 80 litres of hydrogen peroxide which turned the Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre green and the Olympic organisers’ faces red.
Someone needs to tell Ukranian Bohdan Bondarenko that the key to winning the high jump at the Olympics involves jumping – the clue is in the name. Bondarenko’s failure to leave the ground helped him in winning a respectable bronze, but not the gold he was after. Click here for many other Rio Olympic fails.
Samir Ait Said
The first major injury of the Olympics came on day one, a hideous broken leg to the Frenchman in the qualifying rounds of the men’s all-round gymnastics. Said snapped his leg after a double backflip off the vault.
The Armenian weightlifter was attempting to lift 195kg when his left elbow gave way.
Robel Kiros Habte
Swimming and landlocked countries are rarely a good combination and the 24 year old Ethiopian did nothing to alter tradition, finishing in 59th place (also known as last) in the men’s 100m freestyle.
The final word
Let’s be honest The Olympics (and Brasil) are all about beautiful bodies and none received more attention than Pita Taufatofua, better known as the Tongan flag bearer. His oiled chest set hearts aflutter – and also sparked an unintentional tourism boom for the tiny pacific kingdom – following his performance in the opening ceremony. For the record, Taufatofua competed in the taekwondo, however failed to place. If his Olympic career is over after Rio, surely there will be a place for him atop a horse, as the next Old Spice guy.
So long Rio, see you in Tokyo in 2020!