The Rio-wind: A look back at the Games



The curtain has come down on another fantastic edition of the Olympic Games and while some of us are only looking forward to a full night’s sleep, we’ve taken some time to put together a list of our favourite moments from Rio 2016.

The performances below are not ranked in any particular order. If you think we’ve missed something, use the comments section below to add to the list.

RIO 2016's TOP 20

USAIN BOLT – Triple Treble (3 golds), Athletics

The Jamaican sprinter headed to Rio with one goal in mind – complete the ‘Triple Treble’ to cement his status as a sporting legend. Going into the Games, Bolt had barely raced due injury but after some intensive rehabilitation therapy he was ready to defend his titles. Speculation was rife that American Justin Gatlin had Bolt’s number in the 100m but on the night, Bolt prevailed in the slowest Olympic 100m final since 2004. The rest would be easy as he defended his 200m and 4x100m titles to successfully retain the three titles he won in Beijing and London. He became the first person to do so.

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MICHAEL PHELPS – Six medals (5 golds, 1 silver – 1 OR), Swimming

Michael Phelps was completely vindicated in his decision to come out of retirement for the Rio Olympic Games after winning five golds and one silver medal. Phelps ended the London Games disappointed after losing his prized 200m butterfly title to South African Chad le Clos. But the most-decorated Olympian in history bounced back in fine style as he regained his title in another dominant performance in Rio. He won gold in the 200m butterfly, 200m individual medley, 4x100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle, 4x100m medley relay and silver in the 100m butterfly (Olympic record). He ends his career with 28 Olympic medals across four editions of the Games – 23 of them gold.

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SIMONE BILES – Five Medals (5 golds, 1 bronze), Gymnastics

The United States debuted another star at the Olympics Games in Simone Biles, who won four gold medals and one bronze in Rio. Biles went into the Games with 10 world championships titles to her name and she lived up to the hype, taking gold in the women’s vault, team all-around, floor exercise and individual all-around. She added a bronze medal in the women’s beam. Biles also reminded everyone that she’s a superstar in her own right. “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or the next Michael Phelps, I’m the first Simone Biles,” she said after comparisons were made to the track and pool legends.

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KATIE LEDECKY – Five medals (4 golds, 1 silver – 2 WR), Swimming

American Katie Ledecky established herself as the ‘Queen of the Pool’ as she claimed four gold medals and one silver medal in the freestyle events. Ledecky won gold medals in the 200m, 400m, 800m, 4x200m and 4x100m freestyle. She set world records in the 400m and 800m freestyle. "It's been a great four years and I know I can have another great four years and I know that I will have a lot of people supporting me," the 19-year-old Ledecky said after her haul.

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KATINKA HOSSZU – Four medal (3 golds, 1 silver – 1 OR, 1 WR), Swimming

The ‘Iron Lady’ had a fantastic week in the pool as she won gold in the 100m backstroke, 400m individual medley, 200m individual medley and silver in the 200m backstroke. Hosszu smashed the world record in the 400m individual medley and set a new Olympic record in the 200m individual medley.

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BRAZIL Under-23s (Gold), Football

Event attendance had been poor as many Brazilians were priced out of the tickets, while another section of the public believed the country shouldn’t be hosting the Games at all. But on the penultimate day of the Olympics, Brazilians flocked to the Maracana stadium to watch their team take on Germany in a match billed as a revenge match after the Fifa World Cup final. The Olympic medal was the one international title the Brazilians had not won before. The stadium was packed, the atmosphere was great and the football was tense. After ending regulation and extra-time locked at 1-1, Brazil’s Neymar buried the winning penalty in the back of the net and the country erupted. Celebrations went long into the night and there were many tears as they completed their title haul. It was a special moment for the hosts.

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WAYDE VAN NIEKERK (1 gold – 1 WR), Athletics

South African Wayde van Niekerk made history as he smashed the world record in the men’s 400m to take gold and erase Michael Johnson from the record books. Van Niekerk, the defending world champion, won his gold medal from lane eight – another feat which had never been accomplished before. Van Niekerk also made history earlier this year as he became the first sprinter to go under 10 seconds in the 100, under 20 seconds in the 200m and under 44 seconds in the 400m. "I believed I could get the world record,"Van Niekerk said after his 43.03 second lap around the track. "I've dreamed of this medal since forever. I am blessed."

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MO FARAH – Double Double (2 golds), Athletics

Mo Farah successfully defended the two titles he won in London – the men’s 5000m and 10 000m – to become only the second man in history to do the ‘Double Double’. Farah had some trouble along the way as he fell during the 10 000m final and stumbled during the 5000m heats, but in both instances he got up and rejoined the race. "I can't quite believe it. I wished for just one medal as a junior. It has been a long journey but if you dream of something, have ambitions and are willing to work hard then you can get your dreams," Farah said after winning his second medal in Rio. “I didn't just fluke it in London, to do it again is incredible.”

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ELAINE THOMPSON (2 golds, 1 silver), Athletics

Jamaican Elaine Thompson claimed the women’s sprint double as she took gold in the women’s 100m and 200m sprint. The 24-year-old’s feat was even more stunning considering the fact she was recovering from a hamstring injury. Thompson became the first woman since Florence Griffith-Joyner (Flo-Jo) to do the double. "I had rough days training but I did not let that overcome me. I'm a warrior," Thompson said after her win the 200m. "My school motto was 'let the light shine' and I let my light shine tonight.”

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CASTER SEMENYA (1 gold), Athletics

Caster Semenya of South Africa overcame seven tumultuous years to win gold in the women’s 800m on the final night of track action. Semenya has been at the heart of the debate over whether hyperandrogenous women should be allowed to compete against women who don’t have the edge in testosterone. The 25-year-old has stayed out of the debate and stuck to what she knows best: running. She won the gold medal in stunning fashion, obliterating the field and breaking the South African record as she crossed the finish line. “Sport is meant to unite people. I think that's what we need to keep doing,” Semenya said after her race.

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JUSTIN ROSE (1 gold), Golf

After a string of high-profile withdrawals from the men’s golf tournament, the event was expected to be a damp squib but a final-round duel between Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson lit up the course. Rose edged it to beat Stenson by two shots with a final-round four-under par 67. While Rory McIlroy may not have thought much of the competition in Rio, Rose celebrated wildly showing just how much the gold medal meant to him. “Honestly this is a dream come true," said Rose. "I've been thinking about Rio for a long, long time. To come out of it with a medal is incredible, and to come out of it with gold, unbelievable.”

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GREAT BRITAIN (6 golds, 4 silvers, 2 bronze), Cycling

British cycling is in rude health and it showed as they scooped six golds, four silvers and two bronze medals in track and road cycling event in Rio. They also added two world records to their haul. Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Rebecca James, Jason Kenny, Laura Trott and Katie Marchant were among the many British winners. There’ve been lots of speculation about how Britain have been able to dominate. "First of all, we have outstanding athletes," said head coach Iain Dyer. "When you look at the times we have set on what is not a particularly fast track, it serves to highlight how good they were here.”

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LUVO MANYONGA (1 silver), Athletics

South African long jumper Luvo Manyonga had one of the most inspirational stories to tell at the Games after going from reformed crystal meth (tik) addict to Olympic silver medallist. Manyonga leaped a personal best to medal at the Games and he immediately recognised the magnitude of his achievement. “I rose from my demons. They’ve been trying all these years to pull me down but now I made it. I can’t even describe it – just look at my face, you can see,” an ecstatic Manyonga said after winning his medal. “My life already changed before I came here. This is a bonus.”

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FIJI (1 gold), Rugby Sevens

The Fijian Sevens team won the country’s first-ever Olympic medal when they beat Great Britain 43-7 in the final. It was a fantastic moment for the Island nation, who’ve thrilled sevens rugby fans for years. There were massive celebrations and the country declared a public holiday in honour of their heroes. "Our productivity has been nil in the last couple of days, but hopefully the GDP will go in up in the next couple of weeks (when we’re done celebrating)," said Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of his population of 900 000.

ANDY MURRAY (1 gold), Tennis

Great Britain’s Andy Murray defended his Olympic title in style as he defeated Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 7-5 4-6 6-2 7-5 for the gold medal. Murray said the match was one of the hardest he’s had to play for a big title. Both players could barely stand as they were presented with their medals. "There were so many ups and downs in the match... this has been much harder than London,” Murray said of the final. “I know the fact it has not been done before means it is very hard to do, and I am very, very proud to be the first one to have done it.”

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NICK SKELTON (1 gold), Equestrian

Great Britain’s Nick Skelton won his first individual medal at 58-years-old after seven Olympic Games. Skelton won gold in the individual show jumping event to become Britain’s oldest gold medallist since 1908. Skelton had tears in eyes as he stood atop the podium listening to his national anthem. In 2000, Skelton snapped vertebrae in his neck and was told to give up the sport. Of course, he persisted. “I'm lucky just to get this horse here," Skelton said. "This has capped my career. I've been in the sport a long, long time. To win this now at my age... it's amazing."

BROWNLEE BROTHERS (1 gold, 1 silver), Triathlon

Great Britain’s Alastair Brownlee defended his gold medal and his brother, Jonny, retained the silver medal he won in London four years ago. The pair were hot favourites going into the games and they had to dig deep on the run leg of the race to hold off the challenge from the chasing South Africa duo of Henri Schoeman and Richard Murray. The brothers held on and Schoeman got the bronze medal. "We worked so hard to get back to our best," said Jonny. "We've pushed each other and helped each other and that's why it was so emotional today," said Jonny.

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DAVID RUDISHA (1 gold), Athletics

Kenya’s David Rudisha ran a world record for gold in London and went in to the Rio Games with the weight of expectation on his shoulders. There was heavy rain on the night of his final and ‘experts’ talked down his chances, saying the big man would struggle in the wet conditions. Rudisha proved them wrong and claimed gold with a convincing victory to defend his title.

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NIGERIA (1 bronze), Football

The Nigerian Under-23 side overcame a multitude of organisational blunders make it to the tournament just six hours before their first match. According to reports, coach Samson Siasia has not been paid in months and captain John Obi Mikel had to fork out some of the money to get the team to Rio. In spite of their troubles, they finished third in the tournament to win Nigeria’s only medal at the Games.

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SUNETTE VILJOEN (1 silver), Athletics

South African Sunette Viljoen endured a hellish four years leading up to the Olympic Games after she was disowned by her family for coming out as gay, and was at odds with the national Olympics federation, Sascoc. Viljoen also came agonisingly close to the bronze medal in London but finished fourth so the second place in Rio really was a silver lining. “To win a silver – I couldn’t have asked for more after London, to keep fighting for another four years and to come back and win silver. I feel so overwhelmed,” said Viljoen.

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