With the 2016 Summer Olympics coming to a close about a month or so, it is the perfect time to reflect on the event. Billions and billions of people from around the world had their eyes on Rio for a few weeks in early to mid-August. Thousands of athletes from hundreds of countries were competing for medals in over 300 events. And while many medals were won, sometimes the amazing stories from the Games take precedent over who won the events. And with that in mind, let’s take a look at 18 of the most medal-worthy stories from Rio 2016, and beware, number 10 will pull at your heart strings.
#18 Penny Dominates the Pool
Rio 2016 was a pretty solid one for Canada. But there was one Canadian that stuck out above the rest and that was Penny Oleksiak. She took home 4 total medals at Rio. And did I mention that she is only 16 years old? And while Penny dominated the pool during her events, there was another amazing swimmer that had an amazing story too, and you’ll read about her at number 12.
#17 Oksana Chusovitina Becomes Oldest Woman To Compete in Gymnastics
If you look at most of the gymnast’s at the Olympics, you will see the majority of them are in their teens or early 20s. And anything past 30 is nearly unheard of. But Oksana Chusovitina throws all those numbers out of the window. Oksana is 41 years old and this is her 7th Olympics, which makes her the only female gymnast to compete in that many.
#16 Simone Manuel Makes History in the Pool
This woman was truly something special and competed directly, and got 4 medals of her own. And in the process, she became the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in swimming. And despite Simone not being an overly popular name, Manuel was not the only Simon to hit the front pages during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which you will see in number 14.
#15 Husband and Coach?
In a strange story out of the Olympics, Katina Hozzsu and her husband made some headlines. He also acts as her coach and gets very animated on the sidelines. He is extremely happy when she wins and extremely unhappy when she loses. It was very strange to see him getting so animated and actually had some officials worried there was some abuse going on, which Hozzsu and her husband both deny.
#14 Kosovo Picks Up First Ever Medal at the Olympics
If you don’t know the country of Kosovo, I don’t blame you. Kosovo is a tiny nation that became independent from Serbia in 2008 and has under 2 million people living there. They got their first ever medal at Rio and it was gold, which Majlinda Kalmendi won in Judo. And Kosovo also wasn’t the only country to secure their first gold medal at Rio, so did our next entry.
#13 Fiji Wins First Ever Gold
Fiji is an island country located in the south Pacific Ocean and has a population of barely 900,000. Not shockingly, the team doesn’t have an outstanding record at the Olympics. But at Rio 2016, they put themselves on the map. Fiji won its first ever gold medal in rugby and the little island nation could not be prouder.
#12 Usain Bolt Stops the Show
If you are looking for the most exciting event in the Olympics, it is probably the 100M dash. And that event is almost always won by the most exciting Olympia, Usain Bolt. This will likely be Bolt’s last Olympics, and he will retire with 9 medals, all gold. And Bolt isn’t the only legendary Olympian to be retiring after Rio, check out our final entry to see the other.
#11 Joseph Schooling Beats His Inspiration
This is perhaps the craziest story in the entire Rio Olympics. Not only did Joseph Schooling give Singapore its first ever gold medal, he also beat Michael Phelps to do so. But their history goes way back to 2008; when a young Schooling met his idol, Michael Phelps. He also credits Phelps with increasing his interest in swimming.
#10 The US Womens Track and Field Medal Sweep
In the Olympics, it is extremely rare for three people from the same country to sweep the medals. In all the years that the Olympics have been around and all the events that have happened, there have only been 61 medal sweeps. But the Team USA 100M women’s hurdles team added another as they dominated the competition.
#9 Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin
This was among the best “feel good” stories in the entire Olympics. During the 5000 M race, Abbey D’Agostino tripped over Nikki Hamblin and both fell to the ground. But instead of running back into the race, D’Agostino helped Hamblin up to her feet. And later, when D’Agostino fell down, Hamblin returned the favor. Both showed amazing sportsmanship throughout the race.
#8 Caster Semenya Returns to Glory
After Semenya’s victory at the 2009 World Championships, it was announced that Semenya would be going under gender testing as many believed she was a man. The test revealed she was a woman, but she was hurt by the accusations. She returned in 2012, but in 2016, she finally won her Olympic gold medal and returned to glory.
#7 Katie Ledecky Solidifies Herself as Legendary
And other than Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky might have been the best athlete in the pool in Rio. She is only 19 years old and still won four gold medals. In addition to taking home the hardware, she also set some world records in the process. The future is bright for team USA with her in the pool.
#6 Lilly King vs. Yulia Efimova
In the Olympics, it is very rare that we ever get a true and real rivalry with real animosity. But these two swimmers definitely have one. King and Efimova traded insults back and forth before even getting in the pool, surrounding a past suspension of Efimova for steroids. The who ultimately had a very close race, which King ended up winning.
#5 Simone Biles Becomes a Household Name
Simone Biles basically went from an unknown gymnast to America’s sweetheart in a matter of three weeks. Biles is a gymnast and took home 4 gold medals and a bronze for team USA. Pair this with 15 World Championship medals, she is the most decorated gymnast in U.S history, despite only being 19 years old.
#4 Ashton Eaton Defends His Gold
One of the most difficult events to ever do in the Olympics is the Decathalon. It includes a variety of different events that really test a variety of skills the athlete has. Ashton Eaton was tasked with the difficult task of repeating as Olympic champion but pulled it off on the last lap of the 1500M race. Eaton is also featured in our next entry, which is one of the coolest in the article.
#3 The Relationship Between Brianne Theisen-Eaton and Ashton Eaton
This story made many headlines, as it is rare that two elite Olympians not only are a couple but from different countries too. And despite the colors they wore on their chests, they supported each other in their events. This led to some backlash from people calling them traitors, but those accusations and harsh words weren’t needed as it makes sense for a couple to cheer for one another.
#2 Shaunae Miller With the Gold Medal Winning Dive
This was easily the best finish to an event at Rio, and possibly in the history of the Olympic Games. Shaunae Miller was neck and neck in a race with Allyson Felix for the gold medal in the 400 M final. With only meters to go, Miller dove ahead and the dive was enough for her to win the medal for the Bahamas.
#1 Michael Phelps Goes Out on Top
While Usain Bolt might be the fastest person on land, Michael Phelps is the fastest in the pool. He is not only the single most decorated Olympian in history by a mile, but he is among the most dominant athletes in history, period. This Olympic Games will surely be his last and he will retire with an amazing 23 gold medals.
As you can see, there were dozens of amazing stories that emerged from the Rio Olympics. Each year the Olympics come around, they dominate the headlines for weeks because of the great performances and stories, and this year was no different. Household names were made, historic events took place, world records were broken and legends called it quits. These stories you just read show you the grit and determination that it takes to not only make it to the Olympics; but also to be able to come out on top and try to make a name for yourself in the process.