41 Moments From The Rio Olympics That Will Make You Cry
It feels like 2016 Rio Olympic Games just began, but it's time for competitions to wrap up — and some athletes have already headed home for a much-deserved break. Call me a sap, but the Olympics never fail to make me emotional. And in the Rio Olympics, there were moments that definitely made everyone cry. For example, the "Final Five" gymnasts competed against each other in five out of the six events — but they're still each other's biggest cheerleaders. We also saw beautiful shows of solidarity between athletes from different countries, barriers being broken down before our eyes, and the amazing results that come from years of training and sacrifices.
There were inspiring stories, especially the formation of the Refugee Team. Other athletes brought home the first gold medals ever for their countries, and a shot putter's father was able to fly to Rio at the last minute due to the kindness of an Uber passenger who was determined to raise money for him to see his son compete. And, despite some cringeworthy media coverage, the results speak for themselves — the 2016 Olympics were great for racial diversity and gender equality.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at the tear-inducing moments of the 2016 games — because there are plenty.
1. Abbey D'Agostino & Nikki Hamblin Helping Each Other To The Finish Line
Distance runners Abbey D’Agostino of the U.S. and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand had never met each other before they competed in the 5,000m. The two women collided on the track, but D'Agostino immediately realized that Hamblin was in serious pain and she stopped to help her up. When it was clear that Hamblin couldn't run, she told D'Agostino to go on without her and she limped her way to the finish line. As Hamblin told The Los Angeles Times:
“I’m so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there. I’ve never met her before. I’ve never met this girl before, and isn’t that just so amazing? Regardless of the race and the result on the board, that’s a moment that you’re never, ever going to forget for the rest of your life, that girl shaking my shoulder like, ‘Come on, get up.’"
2. Rachele Bruni Dedicating Her Medal To Her Girlfriend
After winning a silver medal in the 10km swimming marathon, Bruni dedicated the medal to her girlfriend, Diletta Faina, referring to Faina as her "beloved."
3. "I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles."
You tell 'em, Simone! Truer words have never been spoken.
4. Phelps Showing Katie Ledecky How To Sport Multiple Medals
Katie Ledecky made history by winning five gold medals in Rio. How does one wear all those medals at once? Michael Phelps showed her the ropes and it was adorable — especially because the 19-year-old likely has many more medals in her future.
5. Zac Efron Flying To Rio To Surprise The Final Five
Zac Efron flew all the way to Rio to congratulate the Final Five — needless to say, they were beyond excited and many selfies were taken.
6. Andy Murray Giving Credit To The Women Who Deserve It
After BBC reporter John Inverdale congratulated Murray on becoming "the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals," Murray set the record straight. He told Inverdale: "Well, [first person] to defend the singles title... I think Venus and Serena have won about four each, but hadn't defended a singles title before." Props to him for making sure the facts were reported correctly.
7. Usain Bolt Proving Once Again Why He's One Of The World's Best Athletes
At this third Olympic games, Bolt added more gold medals to his collection — he has won a gold medal in all eight Olympic finals that he's competed in. He plans to retire next year and it's amazing to watch him go out on such a high note.
8. Oksana Chusovitina Proving You Can Excel At Any Age
Gymnastics is generally considered a sport for teenagers and very young women, but Oksana Chusovitina, 41, competed in her seventh Olympic games this year. Not only that, but she performed the Produnova — the most difficult vault in the world.
9. Katie Ledecky Winning All The Medals
Not only did Ledecky break her own world record in the 800m freestyle, but she had a clean sweep of the 200m, 400m, and 800m freestyle races — something a female swimmer hasn't accomplished at the Olympics since 1968. Oh, and she brought home a gold in the 800m freestyle relay and silver in the 400m freestyle relay.
10. How Darrell Hill's Father Made It To The Olympics
Although shot putter Ellis Hill didn't make it to the finals, his dad found a way to make it to Rio — one of his Uber passengers crowdfunded the pricey flight to Rio for him. Random acts of kindness are everything and this one definitely brought on the waterworks in my apartment.
11. The U.S. Women's Rowing Team Winning Gold
We don't hear quite as much about rowing as we do other Olympic sports — and that's a shame because America's eight-woman team has been called "the best team in Rio" by outlets including The Washington Post. Years of hard work paid off when the team successfully brought home a gold medal and emphasized the importance of teamwork.
12. Simone Manuel's Historic Win
Manuel made history by becoming the first black woman to win a gold medal in an individual swimming event. She shared an inspiring message with The Guardian:
“The gold medal wasn’t just for me. It was for people that came before me and inspired me to stay in the sport... For people who believe that they can’t do it. I hope I’m an inspiration to others to get out there and try swimming. You might be pretty good at it.”
13. The Simones' Selfie
Amazing women named Simone were the stars of the Olympics, so it was only fitting that they took a selfie together.
14. Simone Biles & Aly Raisman Being #BestFriendGoals
Despite the fact that they were each other's main competition at the Olympics, it certainly didn't put a wedge in their friendship — they proudly refer to themselves as #BestFriendGoals and were each other's biggest cheerleaders during the games.
15. Aly Raisman's Reaction To Her All-Around Medal
At the 2012 Olympics, Raisman was edged off the podium in the individual all-around competition due to a controversial tie-breaking procedure. The moment she finished her floor routine, Raisman knew that she'd placed second and her tears of joy made viewers everywhere cry with her.
16. When Alexa Moreno's Fans Responded To Body Shaming
Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno was body shamed by online trolls who claimed she doesn't have the "right" body for the sport. (Yeah, I don't get it either — I'm pretty sure making it to the Olympics is proof that she's one of the most talented gymnasts in the world.) Her fans weren't having it and they immediately took to Twitter to set the record straight — Moreno is an amazing athlete and her body proves that she's capable of performing superhuman feats.
17. When The Obamas Were So Proud Of Team USA
Don't you love it when you have something in common with the Obamas? Case in point — they love the Olympics just as much as we do and their pride for our country's athletes is so touching.
18. Lilly King's Shocking Win
A newcomer to the Olympics, King made a huge splash (pun intended) when she won a gold medal in in the 100m breaststroke. But, her dad made sure to tell TIME that she's really bad at cleaning her room. She'll have to make room in there to display that gold medal when she gets home.
19. When Venus & Serena Williams Were Eliminated After One Round
In one of the biggest upsets of the Rio Olympics, Venus and Serena Williams were eliminated during the first round of women's doubles. Needless to say, my tears about this moment were decidedly not the happy kind.
20. Kerri Walsh Jennings & April Ross' Volleyball Comeback
Walsh Jennings has never lost a match during her 27 competitions across four Olympic games, so it was a major upset when she and Ross lost their first big match. But, they rebounded like pros and ultimately took home the bronze medal for beach volleyball.
21. Thomas Bach's Speech
The President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, paid tribute to the 10 members of the Refugee Team. In his speech, Bach stated:
“We wanted to send a signal of hope to all refugees in the world... These great athletes will show everyone that, despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, and most important, through the strength of the human spirit.”
This newly formed team is so important and all the athletes will continue to receive support from the IOC after the games are over.
22. Obama's Tweet About Diversity
Obama's tweet about unity and welcoming refugees spoke volumes not just about the Olympics, but about the current state of our country and what we stand for.
23. When Simone Biles Was Happier For Aly Raisman Than For Herself
I'm not crying — you are.
24. ... And When She Was So Happy That Laurie Hernandez Scored Higher Than Her
Although she was favored to win the beam, an uncharacteristic mistake hurt Biles' score and pushed her to third place on the podium. She later said the medal was totally fair and she was only disappointed in herself. During the event, she lost her trademark smile for a few minutes — but when Hernandez killed it on the beam and earned a silver medal, Biles immediately began beaming with pride and repeatedly told her teammate how proud she was.
25. When Ibti Muhammed Was The First American Olympian To Wear A Hijab
It was a year of firsts in Rio — and not only did an American athlete compete in a hijab for the first time ever, but Ibti Muhammed helped secure her team's bronze medal in women’s sabre fencing.
26. When Team Fiji Won A Medal For The First Time
Fiji had never medaled at the Olympic games until the men's rugby team landed on the podium after an amazing sevens competition. Oh, and did I mention their first medal was gold?
27. Monica Puig Winning Puerto Rico's First Gold Medal
Monica Puig of Puerto Rico brought home the island's first gold medal ever. Puerto Rico is currently dealing with a debt crisis and a state of emergency due to Zika — so this win was the glimmer of hope that the island needs right now.
28. Kristin Armstrong's Moment With Her Son
Cyclist Kristin Armstrong fought hard for her well-deserved gold medal — she was clearly unwell and even suffered a nosebleed during the race. Armstrong collapsed after she reached the finish line and was examined by medical personnel before her five-year-old son Lucas rushed to her side in one of the sweetest moments of the Olympics.
29. When Adelinde Cornelissen Put Her Horse's Health First
Adelinde Cornelissen put her Olympic dreams aside when she realized her horse was unwell. After her horse was assessed by vets, she chose to skip the competition so the animal could recover. Cornelissen described him as her "buddy" and "friend" and stated that "he did not deserve this." She made the right choice and has her priorities in order, and she sent a great message to other riders.
30. Anna & Lisa Hahner Crossing The Finish Line Together
Although their home country of Germany was displeased, according to the New York Times, twin sisters Anna and Lisa Hahner held hands as they finally crossed the finish line. The sisters say that they were split up during most of the marathon, but found each other towards the end and spontaneously decided to hold hands as they completed the race.
31. Gabby Douglas Being Criticized For Totally Unfair Reasons
Yes, sometimes anger brings me to tears. After winning a gold medal in the individual all-around four years ago, Douglas became America's sweetheart. This year, she seemingly couldn't do anything right and was harshly criticized for behaviors that were very similar to plenty of other athletes. Douglas didn't put her hand on her heart during the national anthem, and she later apologized. Then she was criticized again for not appearing as enthusiastic as her teammates when they cheered each other on during the apparatus finals. She was held to a double standard and Douglas certainly didn't deserve that.
32. Sports Illustrated Got The Best Athletes Right
Let's take a moment to appreciate the fact that two of the best athletes are 19-year-old women.
33. Michael Phelps Asked Katie Ledecky For Her Autograph
When Ledecky was 9 years old, she got an autograph from her idol Michael Phelps. They recreated the photo in Rio, only this time Phelps asked for Ledecky's autograph.
34. When The U.S. Basketball Team Coach Shut Down Sexism In A Major Way
Geno Auriemmo has zero time or patience for sexism. The American women's basketball coach was asked how he felt about the dialogue that it's unfair that his team dominates the sport — but the same hasn't been said of the men's team. His response was spot-on:
"We live in that Trumpian era where it’s OK to be sexist and degrade people that are good, just because they’re the opposite sex. We are what we are. We’re never going to apologize for being that good. We’re never going to apologize for setting a standard that other people aspire to achieve. We got a guy in the pool with a USA swim cap on who nobody can beat. And if he wasn’t in swimming, there would be a lot of other guys with gold medals. So, it is what it is. The world needs times when such great, great teams or great individuals are doing great things, that other people can talk about and other people say, 'Wow, wouldn’t it be great to be at that level?' These are Olympians. They’re supposed to play at a high level.They’re professionals, they’re supposed to put on a show, they’re supposed to entertain. So, what are we supposed to do? Just go out there and win by a little?"
35. When Katie Ledecky Stayed Awake To Hug Simone Manuel
According to the Washington Post, when Manuel finally made it back to she and Ledecky's room at 2:30 a.m., she was shocked that her teammate was still awake. “I wasn’t going to fall asleep until I gave you a hug," Ledecky explained.
36. Yusra Mardini's Story
A member of the Refugee Team, 18-year-old Yusra Mardini won her heat in the women's 100m butterfly. Her backstory is even more inspiring — Mardini and her sister saved the lives of 20 people after they jumped off their sinking boat and pushed it to land.
37. Michelle Carter's Statements About Embracing The Shot Put And Her Femininity
Carter, who became the first American woman to win a gold medal in shot put, made clear that she'll always embrace her "girly" side, despite competing in a sport that's often not considered feminine. According to the Huffington Post, a make-up artist on the side, Carter stated that:
"I’m in a sport where people don’t look at us like women, they don’t look at us like being girls, or feminine... But I’ve been girly all my life and so I couldn’t separate... between the sport and being a woman... I love hair, I love make up, I love fashion and I love throwing the shot put.”
38. Santiago Lange Didn't Let Cancer Prevent Him From Being A Champ
Lange recently beat cancer, although he lost half a lung due to his illness. But that didn't stop him from returning to the Olympics and winning a gold medal in sailing.
39. Alistair and Jonny Brownlee's Embrace After The Triathalon
Alistair came in first place, followed closely by his brother, Jonny. Too exhausted to speak, they collapsed at the finish line and embraced.
40. The Selfie That Shows Sportswomanship At Its Finest
Competing for rival nations didn't stop these two young gymnasts from taking a moment to chat and (of course) grab a selfie together.
41. When Majlinda Kelmendi Won Kosovo's First Olympic Medal
In yet another example of a country bringing home its first medal, Majlinda Kelmendi of Kosovo won a gold medal for judo. She was her country's flag bearer at the opening ceremony, and Kelmendi described the win as a major victory for Kosovo.
The Olympics are an emotional roller coaster, but that's part of why we love them so much.