There’s no denying that the Olympic Games bring with them a sense of unity and collaboration. Even in light of a worldwide pandemic that shocked nations and forced the games to be delayed, they are now taking place in Tokyo, Japan, and it’s safe to say they’ve arrived with a bang.
A lot looks different at the Olympics this year. For one, there are no spectators. Initially, it looked as though spectators from Japan would be allowed access to the events, however as a wave of COVID stirred across the country, medical experts advised against any crowd at all.
Athletes will stay in country-specific buildings, will have timed meals, and will not be allowed to stay in Tokyo after their particular event has taken place.
You may have noticed the teams at the opening ceremonies looked a lot smaller than in previous years. And it’s because they were. The Olympics run from the 23rd of July to the 8th of August, which means that athletes whose events will take place near the end of the games were not permitted to fly into Tokyo to be present for the opening ceremony to avoid the potential spread of the virus.
With all that said, Tokyo 2020 has not lost an ounce of its magic. Perhaps I’m not the best judge, because I cry at Disney movies and Superbowl ads; but if that sounds like you, I’m willing to bet these 10 Olympic moments will bring a tear to your eye and get you choked up.
In no particular order, here are my top 8 tear-worthy Olympic moments so far.
P.S. I put these to the personal test in doing research for this article, and every single one made me cry. Consider yourself warned!
1. Tom Daley & Matty Lee – Men’s Synchronized Diving 10m, gold
You may remember Tom Daley from what felt like his Olympic debut in London 2012, but the Great Britain diver actually began his Olympic career at the Beijing games in 2008. In 2012, Daley snagged the bronze medal for Great Britain in the men’s 10m platform event.
In 2016, at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Daley and then synchronized diving partner Daniel Goodfellow won their country a second bronze medal.
But Tokyo brought Daley and his Olympic rookie partner Matty Lee to new heights. Finally, after a 13-year career in the sport, Daley won Olympic gold in Tokyo alongside Lee in the men’s 10m synchronized diving event.
What made this moment a tear-jerker? Tom Daley’s husband and son cheering him on from home. Daley made headlines in 2013 when he came out publicly as gay to his fans and to the world.
“I feel incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion.”
If you haven’t seen the miraculous moment when Daley’s husband, Dustin Lance Black, realized his spouse has won the gold medal, be sure to check it out below.
2. Ahmed Hafnaoui – Men’s 400m Freestyle, gold
18-year-old Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunesia took the world by storm with his 3:43:36 minute 400m freestyle. His personal best at the beginning of this year was a whopping 6 seconds slower than his Olympic championship time.
Even Hafnaoui himself couldn’t believe the feat. When asked if he was surprised to win, his answer was “of course.”
If Hafnaoui’s reaction to earning an Olympic gold medal wasn’t enough, check out this clip of his family cheering him on to the finish line. Skip to 1:14 to watch them celebrate his win.
3. Momiji Nishiya & Rayssa Leal – Women’s Street Skateboarding, silver & gold
The street skateboarding event was a new addition to the Olympic roster this year, and it did not disappoint.
Momiji Nishiya of Japan and Rayssa Leal of Brazil took the gold and silver medals, respectively. The impressive part? The two are just 13 years of age.
While some sports like gymnastics and boxing have minimum age requirements in order to compete, street skateboarding does not.
The pair gleamed and giggled through happy tears as they took the podium at the world stage. Because of their young age, their mothers were allowed special access to the fan-less games.
The bronze medallist was 16-year-old Funa Nakayama of Japan, making this the youngest trio to take the podium in Olympic history.
Catch the full breakdown below.
4. Hidilyn Diaz – Women’s Weightlifting 55kg class, gold
On Monday, July 26th, 30-year-old Hidilyn Diaz made history becoming the first person to win an Olympic gold medal for the Philippines.
To snag the top spot, Diaz lifted a combined weight of 224kg – 493.83lbs.
Immediately, Diaz burst into tears and her coaches ran to her side in a roar of excitement.
The Philippines have competed at the Olympic games since 1924 and have won three silver medals and seven bronze. Diaz herself won a silver medal in 2016 making her the first woman from her country to earn an Olympic medal.
When Diaz took the podium in 2016, it was the Philippines’ first medal in 20 years. Now, 4 years later she’s made history once more.
To watch the magical moment, see below. Skip to 1:20 to catch her championship lift.
5. Flora Duffy – Women’s Triathlon, gold
Tokyo seems to be the Olympic Games defined by women setting ground-breaking records.
In their 85 years competing on the Olympic stage, Bermuda has not brought home a gold medal. Until now.
33-year-old Flora Duffy is bringing a gold medal home to Bermuda.
The women’s triathlon is divided into three legs; the first is a 1.5km swim, the second is a 40km bike ride, and the last is a 10km run. Feel lazy yet?
Duffy finished 6th after the first leg of the race finishing her 1500-meter swim in 19 minutes and 13 seconds. By the end of the cycling leg, Duffy was in a four-way fight for the lead.
But it was Duffy’s 33-minute 10km run that won her the race by a landslide, not another triathlete in sight as she crossed the finish line.
This is Bermuda’s first medal since the Montreal Olympic games in 1976.
Press play to chat with Duffy and her feelings since winning the women’s triathlon.
6. Oksana Chusovitina – Women’s vault
Oksana Chusovitina made history over this past week, becoming the oldest woman to compete in Olympic gymnastics. She is 46.
Chusovitina debuted on the Olympic stage in Barcelona, 1992 where she and her team won the gold medal in the team all-around event.
Since then, she has competed in 7 more Olympic games. Unfortunately, this year she was unable to qualify for the Olympic vault finals, but she was all smiles nonetheless.
Chusovitina was given a standing ovation as she finished her final vault pass. In a stadium void of spectators fellow teammates, competitors, coaches, and volunteers burst into a round of applause for the accomplished athlete.
Chusovitina chose to continue competing past what is considered her prime in the sport of gymnastics to pay for her son’s medical bills who was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2002.
Check out CBC’s coverage of the milestone here.
Tokyo 2020 is also the Olympic games making waves in the LGBTQ+ community, and Canadian soccer player Quinn is proud to be a part of that.
Quinn who is transgender and non-binary (they/them) became the first openly trans athlete to compete on the Olympic stage. They played for Canada’s women’s soccer team against Japan, and the game ended in a 1-1 tie.
Quinn said in an Instagram post “I feel proud seeing “Quinn” up on the lineup and on my accreditation. I feel sad knowing there were Olympians before me unable to live their truth because of the world. I feel optimistic for change. Change in legislature. Changes in rules, structures, and mindsets. Mostly, I feel aware of the realities. Trans girls being banned from sports. Trans women facing discrimination and bias while trying to pursue their Olympic dreams. The fight isn’t close to over… and I’ll celebrate when we’re all here.”
See the full post HERE.
8. Lydia Jacoby – Women’s 100m Breaststroke, gold
17-year-old Lydia Jacoby is the first Alaskan to make it to the U.S. Olympic swim team.
A senior in high school, Jacoby has had to balance exams, projects, assignments, and her time in the water.
The world anticipated the championship medal to go to fellow U.S. swimmer, returning champion, and world record holder Lilly King, but the race went differently than expected.
“I was definitely racing for a medal; I knew I had it in me. I wasn’t really expecting a gold medal, so when I looked up and saw the scoreboard it was insane.”
Jacoby’s home state of Alaska does not even have an Olympic-size swimming pool, which meant she was training in a 25m pool rather than the standard 50m pools found in the Olympic village.
The moment was made even more “electric” when footage surfaced of Jacoby’s classmates cheering her through to the finish line from their high school gymnasium.
Check out the full video on TWITTER.
What have your favorite Tokyo 2020 moments been so far? Let us know in the comments!