The flame of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was extinguished yesterday night after stunning Japanese cultural performances from traditional taiko drumming to modern-day J-pop, marking the end of the first time the world has been able to come together since the pandemic. Below, we take a look back at some moments of perseverance, friendship and sportsmanship throughout this Summer Games that touched our hearts, even through the screen.
Edgar Cheung bringing home Hong Kong’s first Olympic gold in 25 years
The night Edgar Cheung won gold is a night that no one in Hong Kong will ever forget. Despite being up against Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalist, Italian fencer Daniele Garozzo, 24-year-old Cheung stepped on the piste with calm and confidence. Cheung brought the whole city together in a manner never seen before — people hurried from their homes or offices to the nearest mall just to gather and watch the young fencer. Breaths were held as the pair shuffled back and forth, and when Cheung finally took his 15th point, the city roared as our hearts swelled with immense pride.
Great Britain’s golden boy Tom Daley winning his first Olympic gold after 13 years
Thirteen years after his first Olympic games, Great Britain’s diving extraordinaire Tom Daley bagged his first Olympic gold medal at the Men’s Synchronised 10m Platform diving event. After receiving his medal, Daley, who came out to the public in December 2013 as a gay athlete, gave an impassioned speech to LGBTQ+ youth. “I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone and that you can achieve anything”, he said during his meeting with the press. “There is a whole lot of your chosen family out here ready to support you.” This Olympics, Daley also started a worldwide discussion surrounding gender stereotypes after being caught on camera knitting a dog sweater and commemorative Team GB cardigan in the stands.
Simone Biles winning bronze upon her return to the beam
Simone Biles’ scored a meaningful bronze medal this Olympics, bravely returning to the beam after removing herself from four out of five of her individual Olympic events due to mental health issues. The courageous athlete has been praised her for opening a much-needed conversation about the mental well-being of professional athletes, and rightfully so. Despite the scrutinising eyes of the public, Biles came back onto the balancing beam stronger than ever, completing her routine flawlessly – and doing it for herself.
Italy and Qatar sharing double gold in Men’s High Jump
During the Men’s High Jump finals on Sunday, Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim surprised the world by deciding to share an Olympic gold medal. After completing a jump at 2.37 meters, both athletes failed at 2.39 meters after three attempts each. Barshim was then caught on video asking the official whether they could have two golds, and before the official could finish explaining, the two shook hands and went wild out of pure joy. The two friends, who first met in 2010, ended the competition in a tight embrace with the flags of their respective countries wrapped around their shoulders.
Grace Lau winning the first and last Olympic bronze for Women’s Kata
Hong Kong’s only Olympic karateka Grace Lau bit her quivering lips in emotion when she won bronze in women’s individual kata. While earning an Olympic medal is a monumental milestone for every athlete, Lau’s medal means much more. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics marked both karate’s debut and its final appearance as an official Olympic sport — it will be removed at the next summer games in Paris, meaning that Lau won the first and last Olympic bronze for women’s kata to ever exist in Olympic history.
Japanese skater Misugu Okamoto carried on her competitors’ shoulders after falling
They say that friends will always pick you up after you fall. For 15-year old skater Misugu Okamoto, it was her competitors that did. Okamoto had gone into the Women’s Park finals as the top scorer, only to drop down to fourth position after missing the landing of an important trick. The young skater immediately crumbled at the bottom of the bowl and was seen holding her head, crying uncontrollably. Instead of her coach, however, her rivals from Japan, Australia and Brazil made their way towards Okamoto and hoisted her up onto their shoulders — an unexpected gesture that made Okamoto break into a tear-stained smile.
Oksana Chusovitina receiving a standing ovation at her 8th and final Olympics
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics marked the 8th and final Olympics Oksana Chusovitina has competed in. At 46 years old, Oksana Chusovitina is the oldest gymnast to ever compete in the Olympics, challenging stereotypes and making history in a sport that is traditionally dominated by youth. When she realised she did not score enough to qualify for the finals, she waved tearfully to the crowd, earning a standing ovation.
Hong Kong Swimming Team standing as one
The city went wild when Siobhan Haughey brought home a second silver medal in the Women’s 100m Freestyle. What some don’t know is that Haughey and three other Hong Kong swimmers were scheduled to compete in the Women’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay before her semi-finals, but the team decided to pull out hours before the event to give Haughey more time to rest. After Haughey came down from the podium, the whole swimming team celebrated her win as if it were their own, demonstrating what true friendship – and sportsmanship – looks like.
CreditLead Image: Photo from Siobhan Haughey @siobhanhaughey01 via Instagram