Even though the 2020 Olympic Games ended about a month ago, the captivating moments from the Games continue to remain fresh in my mind. As an avid sports fan, the Olympics are THE event for me. Combining a bunch of sports with talented athletes from all over the world into two weeks is the DREAM. I spent the entire two weeks glued to the TV watching coverage of any and every sport that was broadcasted.
My particular favorites to watch are some of the classics: gymnastics, swimming, track and field, and diving, but really, I’ll watch any sport that’s on.
Now, let’s discuss my top favorite moments from the Games, both in and out of competition:
Caeleb Dressel, Katie Ledecky, and Lydia Jacoby
Now that Michael Phelps has retired, Caeleb is USA Swimming’s new golden boy, and rightfully so. He’s a force to be reckoned with — he won a gold medal in every event that he swam in (that’s FIVE events) and captured the hearts of viewers everywhere, especially after we got to see him talk to his family after winning the men’s 100m freestyle. He’s one of those people that you can just tell is a nice guy, you know? We also got to see Katie Ledecky conquer her third Olympics and dominate in the first-ever women’s 1500m free. 1500 meters?? Casual. One of my other favorite swimmers to watch was newcomer Lydia Jacoby out of Alaska. The 17-year-old beat out veteran Olympic swimmers in the women’s 100m breaststroke to win gold, which was already amazing, but her high school’s reaction was the cherry on top. A great part of the Olympic coverage is the human interest element that they include in between events, spotlighting athletes and their backgrounds — Lydia and her Alaskan high school, Caeleb’s family, you name it. This often results in some heartwarming moments where, no, I definitely wasn’t tearing up during it all. (Yes I was.)
USA Women’s Gymnastics
The USA gymnastics team is consistently a lovable favorite from year to year at the Olympics, and this year was no different. Powerhouse Simone Biles returned with a new group of mega-talented gymnasts in tow. What stood out to me the most about USA gymnastics this year, though, was the resiliency and individuality of the women’s team. Simone Biles taking control over her mental health and stepping down when she needed to undoubtedly set an example for young athletes all over the world to prioritize their mental health and speak up about it. Her teammates supported her and proved themselves in the team final to win a silver medal, which was extremely impressive. It was beautiful to learn about Suni Lee’s family and her biggest fan — her dad, who built her a balance beam in their backyard when she was a kid. Listening to their story about their struggles with her dad’s injury and how much they’ve supported Suni’s gymnastics career made it that much sweeter when she won the women’s all-around gold medal. Jade Carey endured some disappointment early on when she placed low in her first few events, but came back to win the gold medal for women’s floor exercise. These women are amazing! Team USA gymnastics is amazing! All of the gymnasts are amazing! No shortage of talent here, folks.
Olympic Race Walking
I mean…come on, this is awesome. It looks easy, but I guarantee you there has to be an art to it that the average Joe doesn’t understand. What’s beautiful about the Olympics is that there is truly something for everyone, variety-wise. And race walking is one of those things that has to make you smile.
The Opening Ceremony sport pictograms
Every Olympiad comes with the beauty of its host country — and part of that is the opening ceremony, which beautifully demonstrates the host culture and welcomes the rest of the world to the start of the Games. One of its key segments is to introduce the pictograms created to represent each of the 50 sports represented at the Games, and Tokyo did NOT disappoint. The whimsical display set everything off on a brilliant start. I love creative things like that, so it had me laughing and entertained the entire time.
Tom Daley’s Knit-A-Palooza
Great Britain’s Tom Daley has proved himself as a fierce competitor in the men’s platform and synchronized diving events, but he’s also proved himself as a fierce knitter. That’s right, he picked up knitting as a side hobby and brought it with him to Tokyo, passing the time when he wasn’t competing knitting away in the stands. By the end of the Games, he knitted himself a festive Team Great Britain Olympic sweater and adorable pouches to hold his gold and bronze medals. Things we love to see? This. Olympic knitting.
Every Olympic athlete obviously has their sights set on a gold medal, and they’re pouring every bit of blood, sweat, and tears into the competition to get there. In the men’s high jump finals, Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi both cleared the 2.37 meter (final) checkpoint, which would usually mean a jump-off to determine gold and silver. Instead, they decided to forgo the jump-off and share the gold medal. (No, I’m not tearing up, there’s just something in my eye.) How cool is this? Either one of them could have so easily opted for a jump-off to be the standalone winner. I think this was such a demonstration of the meaning of the Olympics — while it’s true that all of the participating countries are competing against each other for medals, the Games are meant to unite the world under one commonality: a love for sports.
One of my favorite things to watch at the Olympics (and really with any sports event) is sportsmanship between opposing teams or players, because it signals to me that they acknowledge their common ground as athletes and their part in something bigger than just themselves.
I could go on all day about the awesome moments I witnessed during the Tokyo 2020 Games, but I’ll spare you for now. It was also exciting to continue to watch some amazing moments during the Paralympic Games that followed. If I were you, I’d check out the NBC Olympics social media channels for all of the highlights and moments of glory (this isn’t sponsored, they just cover it all and I love it.)
I feel like I was looking forward to Tokyo 2020 for SO long (probably because it took an extra year to get here) and now I’m sad that they’re already over! #postolympicsdepression
Luckily, we don’t have to wait for too long for the next Games to start. Beijing 2022 is slated to start in about six months! 🙂