As we look back upon the year, no other event stands out as much as the Rio Olympics. Over 11,000 athletes and 205 countries were represented at the event, competing at the highest stage of their sport. In an atmosphere that left us gasping and gaping with wonder, there were moments that left an indelible impression in our minds. These are five of the greatest moments from the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Nikki Hamblin-Abbey D'Agostino
In a moment recognised as epitomising the 'Olympic spirit,' Nikki Hamblin of the USA and Abbey D'Agostino of New Zealand rose above the race for a medal in a beautiful display of empathy. The women's 5,000-meter race started out like any other when Hamblin stumbled and accidentally brought down D'Agostino with her. D'Agostino was the first to get up, offering a hand to Hamblin but the fall had injured her. She tried to carry on but collapsed again. This time, it was Hamblin who helped the US athlete to her feet. By giving up their chance to win a medal, both women earned the respect of the world and an award only given to 17 athletes before them, the International Fair Play Committee Award.
Even at the pinnacle of sports, there are athletes and then, there are legends! Michael Phelps, however, stands in a class of his own. With no other athlete having ever exceeding nine gold medals, he won his 23rd Olympic gold medal at the Rio Games. It was to be his final race, the last of a storied career and Michael Phelps ended his career in inimitable fashion. At 31 years of age, Phelps bowed out with 28 Olympic medals, including the gold he claimed in his last race, the 400-meter medley relay. It was with tears in his eyes as he saluted the world, bidding adieu to the sport that had elevated him to the position of the most decorated athlete ever.
Yusra Mardini's inspiring story continues
This year saw a new nation making its debut at the 2016 Olympic Games.It was a nation of refugees, banded together with no country to call home. One member of the team, Yusra Mardini, had a message of her own. A message of hope. The 19-year-old had fled Syria a year before in a dinghy overcrowded with other refugees. She, along with her sister, saved the lives of those aboard by pushing the boat through the Mediterranean Sea. She won the first heat but was not able to progress to the semi-finals, but her message of hope and perseverance is never more clear or timely as in the world today.
Bolt completes the triple-triple
For Usain Bolt to be known as the fastest man alive is both humbling and reassuring. Humbling because it is a reminder that here is the most decorated sprinter in Olympic history and reassuring because it lets us lesser mortals know that he is still human. This year saw him complete a triple-triple when he became the first Olympian to win three golds in three different events in three consecutive Olympics. It was also his last Olympic race as he begins to finally slow down at the age of 30. A showman till the end though, his final goodbye was one filled with laughter and his dazzling smile.
Australia's foremost swimmers, Cate and Bronte Campbell, are sisters who always harboured a dream of competing in the Olympics together. Their dream became a reality at the 2016 Rio Games as they qualified for a stunning two of the eight slots in the 100 metre freestyle finals. While they missed out on medals in their favourite event, they led their country to gold in the 4x100 metres freestyle as their team set a new world record. Their source of inspiration comes from an unlikely place, a younger brother with cerebral palsy.