10 best moments from the Rio Olympics

From Bolt’s finish line grin to #PhelpsFace.

Meryl D'Souza August 22, 2016

At every turn the now concluded Rio Olympics showed us how a lifetime committed to an athletic craft comes to a head in the pool, on the mat or around the track. Here, relive the best moments of the Games.

Say cheese

Yes, it’s great that Usain Bolt picked up his third straight gold medal in 100m finals, but the way he did it was way better. While the rest of the field looked like they might burst a blood vessel during a fiercely competitive semi-final, Bolt eased off and looked straight at the camera to his left with a wide grin! This man is from another planet. 

Heyyy Maracaña

Like he did at the World Cup in 2014, Neymar carried Brazil’s hopes for this Olympics. At that World Cup, Germany humiliated Brazil with a 7-1 score line. On the night of the Olympics final, the two teams fought to a 1-1 draw after regulation time and with Brazil's keeper, Weverton having saved a German penalty, Neymar stepped up to give his country the gold. The win not only healed the injuring loss to Germany at the 2014 World Cup, it also eased the heartbreak of Brazil’s loss to Uruguay at the 1950 World Cup. 


One of the biggest memes to come out of the Olympics was Michael Phelp’s death stare. During the semi final of the men’s 200-meter butterfly, South Africa’s Chad le Clos tried to get under Phelp’s skin by shadowboxing right in front of the now 23-time gold medallist. Needless to say it didn’t work too well for le Clos, as the South African had to make do with a fourth place finish.

Impressing Usain Bolt

Starting at the dreaded lane eight, South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk was quick out of the blocks and never looked back. Had he though, he would probably have eased off and never beaten Michael Johnson’s towering mark of 43.18sec that’s stood since 1999 with a 43.03 finish. Van Niekerk even impressed Usain Bolt who said he’d like to challenge the 400m gold medallist to a 300m race someday.

Cinderella story

Ethiopia’s Etenesh Diro was leading her 3000m steeplechase heat semi final when her right shoe came loose leading her to collide with other runners. She tried to put it back on, but eventually ripped it off chased the pack down with just one shoe on. Diro finished seventh, but was allowed to appear for the final after review from the Jury of Appeal.

Black people can swim

12 years after Martiza Correia McClendon became the first black woman to ever be part of the US swim team, Simone Manuel became the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold in an individual swimming event. The win is significant because many black people over the course of America’s history have been unable to learn to swim because they have had to contend with a lack of access to safe places to swim, the stigma of swimming being a so-called “white” sport, and generations of older black people passing on their fear of the water to younger generations.

In a league of her own

Katie Ledecky smashed the 800m freestyle world record with a time of eight minutes and 4.79 seconds. She did it with an incredible 11 seconds to spare before the second-best swimmer finished. She essentially made the best 800m swimmers on the planet look like amateurs.

Girl on fire

22-year-old Monica Puig had never even made it to a Grand Slam quarterfinal in her young career, let alone win. She never let any of that faze her though as she tore through Germany’s Angelique Kerber – who won the Australian Open – to become Puerto Rico’s first Olympic individual gold medallist.

Diving for gold

Leading for much of the race, Bahamas' Shaunae Miller slowed down towards the last 100m with USA’s Allyson Felix fast approaching. Desperate, Miller threw herself forward and finished horizontally. The photo finish clearly showed Miller finishing first. The dive was the subject of much debate on social media, but it’s not against the rules and has happened before.

Gold for Fiji

Going into the Rugby competition of the Olympics tournament, Fiji were heavy favourites to win. The Pacific island nation did not disappoint and picked up its first-ever Olympic medal in a sport that is followed with near-religious fervour among its 900,000 people.