8 of the most inspiring Olympic moments of Tokyo 2020

8 of the most inspiring Olympic moments of Tokyo 2020

As the Tokyo 2020 Olympics draw to a close, it has been different from any other games before due to Covid restrictions.

Despite the year-long delay, there have been some immensely inspiring moments over the past 17 days that will no doubt have encouraged the next generation of Olympians to go on to compete in Paris 2024, Los Angeles 2028, Brisbane 2032 and beyond.

Here are some of the most inspiring moments that happened at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games.

Simone Biles - Gymnastics

Simone Biles won a bronze medal in her extraordinary return to the Tokyo Olympics after withdrawing from several finals, citing a wish to protect her mental health.

The 24-year-old fought off a spatial awareness issue known as the ‘twisties’ to take third place on the women’s beam.

She told a press conference: “I say put mental health first because if you don’t then you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to.

“So it’s OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a competitor and person that you really are, rather than just battle through it.”

The Team USA gymnast who won four golds at Rio 2016 has been candid about the pressure athletes are under and was also open and honest about her mental health during the Games.

“It means more than all the golds,” Biles said of her bronze medal on USA TODAY. “I pushed through so much over the last five years and the last week while I’ve been here. It was very emotional and I’m just proud of myself and all of these girls as well.”

“We’re not just athletes or entertainment -- we’re human, too, and we have real emotions,” Biles said.

“Sometimes they don’t realize that we have things going on behind the scenes that affects us whenever we go out and compete.”

Tom Daley - Diving

Tom Daley won his first-ever Olympic Gold after 13 years. The 27-year-old first began his Olympic journey as a 14-year-old at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

He won the gold with his diving partner Matty Lee in the men’s synchronized 10m platform.

After his historic win, Daley made an inspiring statement at his press conference, declaring: “I am proud to be a gay man and an Olympic champion.”

“When I was younger I didn’t think I’d ever achieve anything because of who I was. To be an Olympic champion now just shows that you can achieve anything.”

The Olympic champion also “hopes that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone. You can achieve anything.”

Momiji Nishiya - Skateboarding

Momiji Nishiya of Team Japan poses with her gold medal during the Women's Street Final medal ceremony on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Urban Sports Park on July 26, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.Getty Images

Japan’s Momiji Nishiya has inspired a generation of teenagers by winning the first-ever gold medal in the women’s street competition in skateboarding at just 13 years of age.

“I didn’t think I could win, but everyone around me cheered me on so I’m glad I was able to find my groove,” she said.

Nishiya told reporters: “I’m simply very, very delighted. I am so happy,” and said she felt her success had “nothing to do with her age.”

Qatar’s Mutaz-Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi - High Jump

We witnessed an act of true sportsmanship between Qatar’s Mutaz-Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi in the high jump event.

Both were able to clear jumps at 2.37m but neither were able to achieve 2.39m to clinch the lead.

As they were neck-and-neck, the pair could have taken it in turns to jump until they beat the score. But, in a lovely turn of events, Barshim asked the officials if the gold medal could be shared between them, to which Tamberi agreed.

When the judge said they could share the gold medal, the pair proceeded to embrace and ran around the stadium in excitement over sharing their win with one antoher.

Georgia Taylor-Brown - Triathlon

In a display of perseverance and determination, Team GB’s Georgia Taylor-Brown managed to win silver in the women’s triathlon event after a tyre puncture on the cycling phase of the race almost ruined her chances of an Olympic medal.

Despite being 22 seconds behind in fifth position due to the puncture, Taylor-Brown fought back and in the running phase of the race was able to bridge the gap to bronze within just one lap to go.

“I did have a panic,” she admitted, “I decided not to stop and change my wheel and just see what happens now.

“I went really hard for the first lap of the run. I suffered after that but it paid off. I was biding my time, I was five seconds off (Zaferes) for quite a while. I didn’t want to push it too soon because I was really suffering but I really wanted to move up and get the silver medal.”

Though that is not all the 27-year-old has had to overcome. A recent leg injury threw her competing prospects into doubt and luckily was able to prove her fitness just a week before she flew out to Tokyo.

Karsten Warholm - 400m hurdles

Karsten Warholm of Team Norway reacts after winning the gold medal in the Men's 400m Hurdles Final on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.Getty Images

Norway’s Karsten Warholm shocked the world by breaking the world record for the men’s 400 men hurdles with a jaw-dropping time of 45.94 seconds to clinch the gold medal.

Just for context, Warholm was astoundingly 0.76 seconds quicker than the previous world record (46.7 seconds). Even the USA’s Raj Benjamin managed to beat the world record with his time of 46.17 but could only manage silver behind Warholm’s insane pace.

“It was probably the best race in Olympic history. I don’t even think Bolt’s 9.5 can beat that,” Benjamin said.

“I just run with my life.” Warholm said, “I would die for that gold medal. When you get to the end of the race you don’t get to put on more speed, it’s all about not trying to lose speed because the lactic acid is just crazy – I couldn’t feel my legs. So I was just running hard to the line because I didn’t take anything for granted.”

Oksana Chusovitina - Gymnastics

Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina reacts after competing in the artistic gymnastics vault event of the women's qualification during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on July 25, 2021.AFP via Getty Images

Oksana Chusovitina from Uzbekistan is putting us all to shame. At 46-years-old, she is the oldest gymnast ever to compete in an Olympic Games.

This is an amazing achievement considering the fact that the median age in Olympic women’s gymnastics is just 21 years, 11 months, according to NBC Sports.

What’s even more impressive is this is the veteran athlete’s eighth consecutive Olympic Games, her first being in Barcelona in 1992.

After competing in the vault at Tokyo 2020, Chusovitina announced her retirement - she’s definitely earned it!

Botswana’s Nijel Amos and USA’s Isaiah Jewett - men’s 800m semi-final

Isaiah Jewett of Team United States and Nijel Amos of Team Botswana react after falling in the Men's 800m Semi-Final on day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 01, 2021 in Tokyo, JapanGetty Images

Disaster struck for Botswana’s Nijel Amos and USA’s Isaiah Jewett in the men’s 800m semi-finals when they fell over on the track.

Despite their medal hopes being dashed, the runners displayed wonderful sportsmanship as they shook hands, helped each other up, and finished the race together.

“He apologized, and I was like, ‘Let’s just finish the race,’” Jewett told the Los Angles Times.

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