Special Olympic Stories

Who else is voraciously devouring whatever limited Olympic content is available? I certainly am. It has been a colossal shame to discover the broadcasting monopoly sold away by the IOC, but the BBC has certainly tried, if frustratingly. Still, what few, magical moments do percolate from Tokyo have generated some very special Olympic stories.

I very briefly wanted to highlight the most extraordinary, alongside some honourable mentions. No doubt you’ll have equally followed these scenes, I simply wanted to reflect on them.

Special Olympic stories define the competition. Despite all the turmoil of this past year and the particular controversies encircling this iteration, the Olympics conjure the fiercest emotions and best of human sporting ability. Even better, we’re scarcely half-way through!

Special Olympic Stories (Honourable Mentions)

Fijian Triumph –

Rugby 7s is arguably one of the most dynamic Olympic formats, and certainly one of the most watchable, regardless of your knowledge going in. I’m more on the casual end of the spectrum. I know the rules, I’ll watch the Six Nations and World Cup, and I’ve loved watching the 7s here – I can’t wait to see what the Women’s draw brings.

Watching the Fiji team convincingly claim a consecutive gold was powerful. It’s so apparent how deeply the victory resonated back home, and the players themselves poured forth the significance of the win for all to plainly see. Spectating after a disappointing Team GB defeat (to an additionally storied Argentina team) was a refreshing delight.

Team GB claiming 4x200m Freestyle Gold –

I’ve probably been shown this race more than any other. It was remarkable, and surprisingly dominant. Perhaps, after Tom Dean and Duncan Scott sealed a historic Gold-Silver combination, it should have been expected. Still, after Tom Dean established an underwhelming first leg, the dogged fight back from GB’s swimmers was imperial.

It’s the emotions so keenly on display in the aftermath that reminds us of sport’s importance. After Tom Dean’s family and friends rightfully lost their minds of his victory, they were on ecstatic form once more. The poolside tears of joy from James Guy and Matthew Richards completed an overall, wonderful performance.

Simone Biles –

Have you heard that Simone Biles, face of the US Olympic Team, withdrew from the All-round Gymnastics? Shocking. The enormous uproar in the wake of her decision is brilliantly indicative of how much pressure and judgement she must have felt heading into the competition, and surely demonstrates the immense strain she’s withstood.

Were this a competitor who’d barely scraped through the qualifying stages, it would be little more than a footnote. It’s damningly revealing of the unhealthy pedestal we promote our top athletes to. Our societal values prioritise victory at all costs, when sport should fundamentally be about enjoyment. No one outside of Simone Biles or her team has any right to comment on the decision itself.

So much has already been said on the importance of mental health, and this hopefully will blossom into far-reaching conversations. My only disappointment, which is not to detract from Biles at all, is the feeble support we as a whole mustered for Naomi Osaka as she withdrew from Roland Garros. Hopefully, both names will be mentioned in conversations of strength and resolve moving forwards.

The strength of Triathletes

The triathlon is a gruelling event, requiring mastery over multiple disciplines. Not only do you have to cycle forty kilometres and then run a further ten, it’s all done in wet shoes. Without socks. The blisters must be unbearable.

Yes, there was the embarrassing false start in the Men’s, and a treacherous moment in which several athletes appeared in jeopardy from a boat’s propeller. But the characteristic shambles aside, Kristian Blummenfelt was supreme in claiming gold. Raw agony strewn across his features, he mustered something inhuman to break free in the race finale and secure uncontested victory. That was it. He could no longer walk. He could no longer move after crossing the line. Had the run been ten-thousand-and-one meters, he might well have come last.

Supported by a dramatic Women’s event, in which Flora Duffy delivered Bermuda’s first ever gold, they were a special sequence. At one stage, it appeared torrential rains would cancel the Women’s, but they soldiered through appalling conditions. Huge congratulations too, of course, to Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown for riding through a tyre puncture and still claiming silver.

The Ultimate Olympic Journey

Perhaps the most bizarre Olympic heroics were encapsulated by Hidilyn Diaz, a Philippine weightlifter. The thirty-year-old, weighing in at fifty-five kilograms, proceeded to break the world record by lifting a total two-hundred-and-twenty-four kilograms, bringing home the Philippines’ first ever Gold.

She might not have always been a source of national pride, however. Astonishingly, it was just two years ago her name was included on a list of accused plotters against President Rodrigo Duterte. Diaz denies any involvement, and I certainly not casting aspersions. Whatever the truth, there are no hard feelings, as Duterte’s spokesperson declared:

“We will carve Hidilyn Diaz’ name in the Philippines’ history”.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully you’re all looking forwards to the remainder of the Olympics as much as I am – I’m sure there’re plenty of special moments in store. If you’re looking for a change of pace, I also post short stories and travel blogs. Feature image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Whilst you’re here, why not check out the latest posts?

The ultimate victor is ‘sportswashing’ 

The 2022 men’s Football World Cup has finally drawn to a close, after several weeks of inane and underwhelming sport, where the greatest moments of excitement and controversy came off the pitch.   Yes, Argentina won the tournament, but it would be difficult to crown any true champion other than the phenomenon of ‘sportswashing’. Spoken…

Me Time – a spectacularly weak entry into the buddy comedy genre 

That pretty much summarises it all. Were it not for Kevin Hart repeatedly shouting the film’s title, you might forget which mediocre Netflix original was filling the space on your screen.  Me Time unites Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg as the two leads, though neither develop their characters beyond their existing personas. The plot, if…

Our relationship with the environment must fundamentally change 

I’ve been outside of the UK, but that hasn’t left me ignorant to the oppressive heatwave searing the country just weeks ago. Or perhaps a month ago. I actually have been distracted and have lost touch with domestic events. Anyway, historically, the heatwave was incredibly unusual. It should have been perceived as an alarming, panic-inducing,…

3 thoughts on “Special Olympic Stories

Add yours

  1. I love the Olympics. I’m constantly glued to the TV watching sports I wouldn’t otherwise pay attention to. The weighlifters amaze me. Canada’s Maude Charron lifted a total of 236 kg to win gold. When I saw her interviewed afterwards, I was amazed how tiny she looked standing next to the TV host. When she couldn’t train because of the pandemic, her dad cleared out their garage and built a training area there for her. She would train every day while her dog watched. They showed video of her training with her dog sitting watching. Such a great story.


    1. That’s absolutely adorable! Athletes battling through the pandemic has been especially impressive given how finely tuned their regimes typically are. It’s also been wonderful to see the new crop able to compete in 2021 when they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to last year

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: