22 August 2016
Athletes from across the world treated global audiences to the best of sports in the 16 days that the Rio Olympics lasted.
The athletes’ statements on many occasions inspired millions across the world.
As we look back at Rio, we put together some of the inspirational moments and quotes that added colour to the Games.
- Finnish weightlifter Milko Olavi Tokola – not bothered after images of him fainting head-first off the stage while celebrating, went viral, he said: “I know it was on TV, I don’t care! I feel no embarrassment. Hey, I’m an Olympic athlete. I’m just happy.” Morale: never let jesting get the better of you, concentrate on who you are and on the good things you are doing, will do and have done.
- Body-shamed 5ft 9in, 12.5st Ethiopian swimmer Robel Kiros Habte, reflecting on his mixed press prior to the Games said: “They have used dirty language against me and called me fat and a big man and a whale. But Ethiopia is not a swimmers’ country and I have not trained in an Olympic size pool. How could I have won gold? Anyway, now I will lose weight. When I go to Canada for the world championships, I will show them.” Morale: let people’s jesting, and negative words push you to success, don’t let it push you to failure. In the end it is what you make of the lemon the world throw at you that matter. You can either be pissed, or squeeze the lemon into a water gun and shoot back in their eyes (that’s on a light note, revenge is not good).
- Syrian teen Yusra Mardini, a member of the refugee team – winning her heat in the 100m butterfly for the Refugee Team in week one, a year after surviving the capsize of a six-man dinghy carrying 20 refugees towards Lesbos. Mardini spent three hours in the sea helping drag the boat to shore. “I just thought it would be a real shame if I drowned, because I’m a swimmer.” She called the Rio experience “really cool … there are a lot of stories about me now and a lot of people who want to take my picture. This is really good, because it’s helping to spread our message. What everyone in the Refugee Team is saying now is that this does not stop here … This is not the end.” Morale: always let the past be the past, and always work at a better future.
- Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino helping each other finish the 5,000m. Hamblin: “When I went down it was like: ‘What’s happening? Why am I on the ground?’ And suddenly there’s this hand on my shoulder, like: ‘Get up, get up, we have to finish this!’ That girl is the Olympic spirit, right there.” Moral: winning feels good, but helping someone else feels better.
- Less successful divers giving the rest of us hope: Malaysia’s Ahmad Amsyar Azman pulled off a 3m springboard belly flop for 9.75 points; Russia’s Ilya Zakharov entered the water on all fours for 0 points; and fellow Russian Nadezhda Bazhina delivered a rare 3m springboard back flop, also securing 0 points. Morale: you don’t have to attain perfection at something before you try it. Like Nike, just do it.
- Brazil’s men’s football team’s captain, Neymar on managing the pressure to win Brazil’s first Olympic gold medal in football: “I don’t take it as pressure. It is you [the press] who say it. This is one of the best things that has happened in my life. Now [the critics] will have to swallow what they said.” Morale: don’t let others’ perception influence your belief; they don’t see what you see, they don’t stand where you are.
- Nineteen-year-old Simone Biles on dominating her sports in her first Olympics appearance: “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.” Morale: as much as you want to be like the best, the best to be is yourself.
- “This medal is [a response] for all those who said I should be [a monkey] in a cage,” a tearful Rafaela Silva said after coming from the Brazilian favelas to win the host nation’s first gold medal of the 2016 Olympics. Morale: no one deserves to be written off; everyone deserves a fair chance to prove themselves.