Established champions reinforced their reputations and a handful of new stars emerged in South America's first Olympics at Rio de Janeiro.
Established champions reinforced their reputations and a handful of new stars emerged in South America's first Olympics at Rio de Janeiro. They will pop up in your mind whenever you try to relive the golden moments at the Rio Games. Presented is a selection of those athletes who lifted the collective spirit of the world at the 31st Olympiad.
Usain Bolt (Jamaica) The Olympics haven’t witnessed a more entertaining athlete than the effervescent Jamaican. He can also run. A triple triple — gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m in three Games on the trot — is an insane achievement which may never be broken. In terms of athletic gold medals, he is level with Paavo Nurmi and Carl Lewis but winning the same events three times in a row puts him on a lonely pedestal. Bolt is a legend, immortal and whatever else you may like to call him.
Michael Phelps (USA) Is he even human The Baltimore Bullet had a lot more left in his tank than we had all imagined as the American put enormous strain on his already burgeoning medal cabinet by adding five more gold and a silver from Rio. At the age of 31, he is a grandpa in Olympic swimming. But then, he is Phelps. A force of nature. Two of his five golds in Rio came in individual categories including his pet event, the 200m butterfly. Not a mean feat even by Phelpsian standards. Wayde van Niekerk (South Africa) Although the South African had won the 400m gold at last year’s world championship, no one was prepared for his otherworldly run in Rio. Not only did he become the first gold medal winner in the event from lane eight, van Niekerk also smashed American Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old world record. Even Bolt was compelled to pause his interaction with reporters to congratulate the new kid on the block. Maybe the Jamaican also passed the baton on to his heir apparent.
Katie Ledecky (USA) Four gold medals and a silver with two world records to boot meant the 19-year-old was a contender for the MVP at the Rio Games. She was so far ahead of her competitors in the 800m free style that getting her and others in the same frame became quite a task for cameras. It’s mind- boggling to think of the Olympic medals Ledecky will end up with because she has at least three Games left in her. A photograph showing Ledecky getting an autograph from Phelps eight years ago went viral during the Rio Games. At the end of the swimming events in Rio, Phelps bowed to the freestyle queen.
Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia) If the track events in Rio got off to a dream start, Ayana was solely responsible. Running only her second competitive 10,000m, the Ethiopian obliterated the world record by an astonishing 14 seconds. In terms of distance, 14 seconds were equivalent to nearly 100m. Sure enough, questions were raised about Ayana’s doping habits. Unfazed, the Ethiopian said: “My doping is hard work. My doping is Jesus.”