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There’s something special about the Olympic Games.  Every two years, for 16 days, the world’s best athletes come together and captivate the globe with their athletic abilities and performances.  They have the power to render you overjoyed or heartbroken.  They have the power to hold you speechless.  And they have the power to inspire.  


Katie Ledecky image via

Whether it’s painstaking defeat, world-record achievements, or some other personal narrative of adversity, there is always a new story that emerges from each Olympic Games that manages to live on in our memories far past those of the games themselves.  The Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics were no different — here are 5 of its top moments:

5) Refugee wins swimming heat

Rio 2016 was significant — a team of ten refugees were selected to compete at the Olympics, in the context of the ‘worldwide refugee crisis,’ of which the European migrant crisis is a prominent part.  The athletes competed under the Olympic flag and were known as the Refugee Olympic Team.

Yusra Mardini, a 17-year-old Syrian swimmer who pushed a dinghy of 18 migrants to safety for over three hours in the Aegean Sea, won a 100m butterfly heat, reaffirming the purpose of the refugee delegation that sporting excellence can be accomplished when given the opportunity.

4) Usain Bolt

Despite the preliminary rumors and jibes from competitors that he would not be prepared for the games, Usain Bolt once again proved why he has earned the title of ‘fastest man in the world’ — and in history for that matter.  Bolt became the first sprinter to win the 100m in three consecutive Olympics.

3) Ibtihaj Muhammad, U.S. Fencing

Sometimes there are moments from the Games far more important than the games themselves.  Ibtihaj Muhammad, an American saber fencer, became the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in the Olympics.  Muhammad earned the bronze medal as part of Team USA.

2) Simone Biles and the Final Five

If there was ever any question over the last few years whether the United States had the best gymnastics team in the world, it was answered resoundingly in Rio.  In what will be the last 5-member Olympic competition and the coming retirement of national team coordinator Martha Karolyi, The Final Five delivered a team total of 84.897 points — 8.209 points ahead of Russia — which was the largest margin of victory since 1960 and the first back-to-back golds in U.S. women’s gymnastics history.  Meanwhile, 19 year-old Simone Biles became the first woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles, followed by an Olympic all-around, in addition to her team, vault and floor golds, and beam bronze.


The refugee delegation proved that sporting excellence can be accomplished when given the opportunity.


1) The Year of Swimming: Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps

American swimming dominated — so much so, that I couldn’t just pick one competitor.  Stand-out female swimmer Katie Ledecky cemented herself as a household name by hauling in 4 golds and 1 silver medal, while also becoming the first swimmer since 1968 to win the 200, 400, and 800 meter freestyle at the same Olympics.  And the only thing that could demand attention equal to that feat is the greatest of all time himself: Michael Phelps.  In what was his last competition and Olympics of his swimming career, Phelps won 5 golds and 1 silver medal to rewrite the record books and break a 2,168-year-old ancient Olympic record  — the record for most Olympic individual titles of all time (now 13).  Phelps retires as the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals.

Share your favorite moment from the Olympics in the comments below!


Krista is a senior at Yale University.  Just a small-town Canadian girl, her biggest passion is, of course hockey, and all sports.  Now, she is pursuing a future career in which she can incorporate her passion, as well as her love for people and the media, in to her everyday activity. Visit her blog at kristayipchuck.wordpress.com.


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