The most unforgettably heartwarming stories to emerge out of Rio 2016
The Rio Olympics have come to a close and with it, the daily updates on human greatness on land and in water.
From a fearless death vaulter to a woman who swims faster than the world record line, from a record number of marriage proposals to a grin on the way to a finish line – the Olympics this time have had their share of heart-stealing moments.
An exceptional games in an exceptional venue, the Rio 2016 remains unforgettable for ten of these most moving instances.
In competitive artistic gymnastics, Simone Biles’s form is as close to perfect as possible. She can entirely fall off a balance beam and still win bronze medal, her execution scores rarely slip below 9.5 out of ten, and her legs are clinically parallel to the floor whenever she is mid-layout. With five medals – four of which are gold – Biles leaves Rio the same way she came to the city – as a hero.
In swimming, it’s easy to win medals. There are more events than any other sport and the chances of a single athlete winning four medals are not slim. Unless, of course, you are swimming not just against seven others but against a painful history suffered by your ancestors. Simone Manuel has two golds and two silvers and her win in the women’s 100 meter freestyle made her the first African-American woman to win an individual swimming medal at the Olympics.
Manuel’s victory comes less than a century after white Americans were throwing acid in pools where black Americans were swimming. But for both Simones the Rio Olympics was a stage to unfurl the possibilities of holding up their status as undeniable role models, not just to black women but to the whole of womankind. The success of the Simones has not just resulted in a spike in babies named after them, but in the world taking note of two of the best athletes emerging out of a subjugated demograph..