Heartwarming / Olympic Games

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    Berlin 1936 
  • At the 1936 Summer Olympics, the pole vault competition culminated with American Earle Meadows winning the gold medal, which left the competition for the silver and bronze medals between two Japanese athletes, Sueo Oe and Shuhei Nishida. The competition stretched out into the evening as neither Oe or Nishida could clear the height that would determine who would come second. In the end, Olympic officials told Nishida and Oe to decide between themselves who the medals would go to—Nishida accepted the silver medal and Oe the bronze. The two men agreed to cut their medals in half and join half the silver and half the bronze together. These medals are now known in Japan as the 'Medals of Eternal Friendship'.

    Mexico City 1968 
  • In 1968 Mexico City, after the controversial Black Power Salute that Tommie Smith, Peter Norman (the white guy) and John Carlos were a part of, they remained life-long friends. Norman, an Australian, was putting his career on the line as much as the black men were. He lost any further chance to be in the Games and faced anger and hatred in his home country all his life (those black gloves they're wearing are his, and he's got an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge — given to him by U.S. rower Paul Hoffman). Look up "White Australia Policy". He didn't salute because he thought it wasn't his place, just wanted to show he was an ally. When a statue of the salute was made, he declined to be in it because 1) the focus should be on the black men, and 2) this way anyone could stand in the empty place and participate in it. After Norman's death in 2006, Smith and Carlos traveled all the way to Australia to be his pallbearers.

    Lake Placid 1980 
  • The Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Winter Olympics.

    Barcelona 1992 
  • After winning the women's 10,000m at the 1992 Summer Games, Ethiopian athlete Derartu Tulu embraced the silver medalist, white South African Elana Meyer and ran a victory lap with her. Made special by the fact that the 1992 games were the first games South Africa were allowed to participate in after being banned from competition by the IOC for nearly 30 years because of apartheid.
  • One of the most memorable images of the Barcelona 1992 Olympics came from somebody who technically failed to finish—one of the semifinals in the men's 200m saw Derek Redmond pull up with 250m left with a torn hamstring. Rather than having his Olympic career ended on a stretcher, he got up and, with help from his father, finished the race to a standing ovation. One of the first people to console him afterwards was Linford Christie, with both men in tears; before the Games, the two had had an openly hostile relationship.

    Lillehammer 1994 
  • At the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, speed skater Dan Jansen received word just prior to the medal event that his sister Jane had died of leukemia. He had tried to talk to her on the telephone earlier that day, but she was unresponsive. Wanting badly to dedicate his medal to her memory, instead he fell and did not complete the race. The same thing happened days later in another event. 1992 in Albertville, he came up short and did not medal. When he finally won gold in Lillehammer in 1994, he carried his one-year-old daughternamed Jane—during his victory lap.

    Atlanta 1996 
  • At the Centennial Olympic Games, Muhammad Ali was the final torchbearer and part-way through the basketball finals, Ali was given an Olympic Gold Medal to replace the one he had won in Rome during the 1960 Summer Games, but which had gone missing later on in his life. Although he had lost his ability to speak to Parkinson's disease, he remained lucid and fully aware of what was going on, and released a statement of gratitude proclaiming how touched he was by the public's outpouring of love and goodwill to him.
    • Video here. The American players come up to get their photo taken with him, and he starts to leave...when the Yugoslav team approaches him for the same.
  • Abdul Baser Wasiqi of Afghanistan refused to drop out of the men's marathon despite having injured his leg two weeks prior to the Games. He was the final competitor to finish the race, nearly an hour and a half behind the second-slowest competitor. Wasiqi was so far behind, in fact, that the stadium was in the process of being prepared for the Games' closing ceremonies by the time he got there. But when he did arrive, all of the workers dropped what they were doing and lined up around the track to congratulate him, with two people even holding up a ribbon for him to cross once he reached the finish line.
  • A much smaller moment, but the brief tribute to Atlanta native Martin Luther King Jr. during the opening ceremony was pretty touching as well.

    Sydney 2000 
  • Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea was the only competitor in his 100m freestyle heat after his two opponents were disqualified for a false start. Having only learned how to swim eight months beforehand, he gained entry into the Olympics via a wildcard draw to encourage developing countries without expensive training facilities to participate. Eric had never raced for more than 50m in his life and he struggled to finish the last 50m with commentators doubting he would make it and the crowds cheering him on. He won his solo heat with 1:52.72, a personal best and an Equatoguinean national record. The man knew he was out of his league but he did his best and in 2012 is a coach for Equatorial Guinea's swimming team.

    Salt Lake City 2002 
  • The pilot who started Operation: Little Vittles, which is essentially the NATO Army dropping off candy to German children after World War II, was Gail Halvorsen, a native of Salt Lake City, Utah. During the Parade of Nations at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics, he was invited to hold the placard for the German athletes as they entered the stadium.

    Athens 2004 

    Turin 2006 
  • At the 2006 Winter Olympics, Canadian speed skater Clara Hughes, who won gold, invited her teammate, Cindy Klassen, who won bronze, on the top of the podium to join her.

    Beijing 2008 
  • During the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games, Matthias Steiner won the gold medal for weightlifting and he did it all for his wife. He was unashamed of crying when he did win and when he went up on the podium, he was carrying a picture of his late wife, whom he wanted to win for.
  • Donghua and Esperanza Li. What that article doesn't mention? He won gold in Atlanta. And from the top of the podium, he waved to Esperanza in the stands while the Swiss anthem played.
  • Eric Lamaze's gold medal in 2008 in show jumping. He was banned from previous Olympics for testing positive for cocaine and was banned for life, but after convincing the FEI and the Canadian Equestrian federation to give him another chance, he made a comeback which all culminated in his gold medal in individual show jumping and a team silver in 2008.

    Vancouver 2010 
  • At the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada wins the freestyle skiing gold medal on home soil for the first time. The winner, Alexandre Bilodeau, stated his older brother Frederic, who has cerebral palsy, was his inspiration.
  • Another 2010 Olympics thing for Canada in the men's curling gold medal match. Near the end of the game, Canadian skip Kevin Martin had to make one last shot against Norway. In the 2002 Olympics, Martin and his team took home the silver because of a miscalculated shot, costing them the gold medal. Just before he can launch the rock down the ice, the audience stands and sings the Canadian national anthem. It became so loud both teams cannot resume play until the crowd finishes singing. Even the Norwegians were in awe of such support for the Canadian men.
  • China's figure skating coach Yao Bin was considered one of the first pioneer Chinese skaters. But during the 1980 World Championships, he and his partner came last in the event, having only pictures to study from and learn moves from. They were ridiculed and laughed at for years. Guess what? Now he is the coach of Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, the first Chinese pair skaters to win a medal in the Olympics, three-time World Champions, six-time Grand Pix Final champions and as of Vancouver 2010, the first Chinese skaters to win gold in any figure skating category. The joy and pride in his face as he watched his former students finally getting the Olympic gold after all these years was just that sweet.
  • Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette, who skated the performance of her life after the death of her mother a few days before her performance. She decided to remain in competition and won bronze, against Kim Yuna, Mao Asada and Mikki Ando. To make it worse, earlier she was struggling through practice and eventually left the rink as "I'm Gonna Live Forever" was blaring.
    • She won bronze after the women's free skate. Despite it not being gold or silver, the crowds went nuts for her. And the smile on her face, as she looks upwards towards the crowds of Canadians and family who supported her and perhaps to her own mother watching her, was indescribable.
    • This triples as a Crowning Moment of Awesome, and a Tear Jerker!
  • "The Difference Makers" section from the CTV broadcast of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, where Canadian athletes talk about their special someone who changed their lives and helped them in their journey to Olympic athletes. One athletenote  talked about how he didn't have a great family life and during high school, began spiraling down a dangerous path. Fortunately for him, his best friend talked him out of it, took him into his own family and helped him get focused on what he enjoyed the best: sports.
  • In the opening of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, one of the four pillars of the indoor cauldron did not rise, leaving one of the torchbearers, Catriona Le May Doan, unable to light it with the others—Steve Nash, Nancy Greene and Wayne Gretzky. In the closing ceremonies, after a Crowning Moment of Funny where that same pillar is still down and a clown "fixes" it, Catriona comes out to finally do what she was denied in the opening ceremonies.
  • At the 2010 Olympic Games, the Canadian Women's Hockey Team won 2-0 against the American team in the gold medal game. After Team USA received their silver medals and bouquets, the entire audience, who were mostly Canadian, chanted "USA! USA!" in appreciation. The team responded to the crowd by raising their bouquets in thanks. Video here.
  • The Czech Republic ice-hockey team crossed swords with Canada in the semi-final of Ice Hockey Olympic Tournament in Nagano 1998. During the nerve-biting penalty shootouts, the bench of Czech players did a line version of Group Hug, all putting their arms around their neighbours, united as one man and emotionally supporting each other. Have a look herenote . Many ice-hockey teams started doing the same later at key moments of important matches. Both teams were strong but Canada was favored. Darkhorse Victory made it all the more heartwarming.
    • The look on Wayne Gretzky's facenote  and his later words: "It's not our game anymore" makes this a Tear Jerker as well.
    • The momentum gained by this victory carried the Czech team through the 1-0 victory over Russia in the final game of what was dubbed The Tournament of the Century. To put this in perspective, Nagano was the first ever Olympic ice-hockey tournament during which NHL was halted so that the national teams could present their very best players. The victory led to immediate celebrations in the streets and town-squares all across Czech Republic, and their arrival to Prague airport and the subsequent victory parade to Old Town Square was attended by nearly a million people in the streets and watched in TV by over four and half million others...in a country with population of ten millions.
  • At the 2010 Vancouver Games' closing ceremony, Michael J. Fox's surprise appearance was a massive relief to many of his fans who had feared, after his long disappearance from public life, that his condition had deteriorated due to his Parkinson's Disease, Fox put those fears to rest with his hilarious and brilliant speech. Hats off, Mike!

    London 2012 
  • 2012 Summer Olympics: 4 athletes are independently affiliated. 3 are from a recently dissolved country, the Netherlands Antilles. One is from South Sudan, which doesn't have a National Olympic Committee yet, and he refuses to compete for North Sudan due to the violence that happened during the civil war. And yet the first threenote  make the most memorable entrance: goofing off in front of the audience and dancing as the parade continues.
    • And for the first time women from Saudi Arabia get to compete in the Olympics, making this the first time women from all competing countries partake in the Olympics.
    • In one women's velodrome event, a young girl from Hong Kong won the bronze medal. But from her reaction, she might as well have won the gold; she was absolutely ecstatic.
    • After winning the 100m in the 2012 games, Usain Bolt was being interviewed by an American journalist when a medal ceremony started, Bolt stopped the interview to watch the American women's running winners receive their gold and silver medals, telling the interviewer he thought she'd want to pause for her nation's athletes. Crowning Moment of Good Sportsmanship, bar none!
      • During the Paralympics, Bolt tweeted that it's these games which are truly inspirational.
    • Canadian triathlete Simon Whitfield fell and took out Costarican Triathlete Leonardo Chacon. After the race, Chacon posted a message on Whitfield's Facebook wall, expressing his admiration for Whitfield, and invited Whitfield to Costa Rica.
    • One in the Closing Ceremony: the tribute to John Lennon. Beautifully done.
      • And then the video footage of Freddie Mercury doing his "Day-O" routine...and the audience doing it back. Just think how long it's been since that happened, and how his band mates must have felt hearing that for the first time in years.
    • While the whole opening ceremony was basically a love letter to Great Britain, during the brief pause in the Pandemonium segment featuring tributes to the soldiers of World Wars I and II, the whole public audience stood as a sign of respect.
  • Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney met in the gym at age five and spent the next ten years training and competing together. At age nine, Kyla whispered to her best friend McKayla, "Let's work really hard so we can go to the Olympics!" Seven years later, in London, Alexandra Raisman's floor exercise score came in, giving Team USA the gold medal...and standing right next to each other, holding hands for dear life, were Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney.
  • The joyous Medal Ceremony for women's football, as the Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal teams (USA, Japan, and Canada, respectively, came out together, dancing and holding hands. The Canadian team had rushed back to London from their Bronze Medal match in Coventry.
  • Peng Peng Lee, by far the greatest Canadian gymnast of her generation, was an absolute lock for the Canadian Olympic team in 2012...until a torn ACL forced her to scratch the rest of the season and, by extension, the Olympic Games. Lee was also noted, throughout her career, for wearing a white flower in her hair during competitions. She was named team captain anyway and joined them in London, where she watched with mingled shock and pride as Canadanote  qualified for their first-ever team final and finished in an absolutely historic fifth place, just behind the dominant "Big Four" of Russia, Romania, China, and the United States. The kicker? All throughout the Games, every female Canadian gymnast wore a white flower in her hair.
  • There was a group of Canadian runners who had placed third in the relay, and would have gotten a bronze medal, but were stripped of it because one of the athletes stepped on a line. A kid then wrote a heartwarming message to them telling them not to give up hope, and gave them his Timbits soccer medal, the only medal he'd won sports-wise, as a Consolation Prize. Said kid got a lot of publicity for this act of kindness; Tim Hortons gave out a replacement Timbits medal, and the athletes got to meet the kid, though the meeting was delayed somewhat due to a tropical storm.
  • English diver Tom Daley winning bronze at the 2012 games. Some athletes might be disappointed not to get the gold or silver, especially when competing in their home nation. We Brits are a cheerful lot underneath though. You can't fail to grin when you see Daley and his team scream for joy upon realizing he medalled, swiftly followed by them all jumping in the pool, most of them fully clothed.

    Sochi 2014 
  • In Sochi for the 2014 Olympics, Bilodeau wins gold yet again, and tells the world his brother continues to be an inspiration to him. It's just as heartwarming as the first time.
  • In the opening ceremony, five giant snowflakes were supposed to open up and form the Olympic rings, but one remained closed. At the closing ceremonies, five groups of dancers portrayed the snowflakes, with one group remaining closed. As the audience laughed and applauded, the last snowflake finally opened.
  • The specialized jackets made by Nike for any American who won a medal in 2014. Hidden inside are the messages "This is your moment" and "Land of the free."
  • Canadian speed skater Denny Morrison failed to qualify for the 1000m long-track speed skating event at 2014 Sochi. Teammate Gilmore Junio announced a day before the event he has given up his spot for Morrison, citing "how Denny is skating now, I believe it's in the best interest of the team if he races." Morrison went on to win the silver medal in the 1000m and bronze in the 1500m.
    • Post-competition, Morrison has nominated Junio on social media to be Canada's flag-bearer at the closing ceremonies.
  • At the respective ages of 8 and 9, Charlie White and Meryl Davis were paired up in ice dancing, with him annoyed at breaking in a new partner and her too shy to even look at himnote . Then the partnership went on to last 17 years and counting, climbing to the top of their sport, and culminating with becoming America's first-ever ice dancing gold medalists at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, in great part thanks to their incredibly close friendship. And their moms have been at every competition, together, for all those 17 years. Just to top it off, the silver medalists at these Games—which is the same pair that White and Davis came in second to in Vancouver—are their training partners and longtime friends, Canadians Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue.
  • Russian figure skating legend Evgeni Plushenko and Japanese gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu's mutual admiration. Yuzuru always said that he took up skating because of Plushenko, especially after watching his performance in 2002 Olympics. Plushenko replies: "I might have been his hero, but now, he's become my hero." Here's the link. And Plushy's another word to Hanyu; he wishes that Hanyu would win many more medals in the future, but most importantly, not to forget to take care of his own health too. *Sobs*. The passing-the-torch thing is bittersweet, because Plushenko himself has been plagued by lots of health problems which forced him to withdraw before facing Hanyu in the individual competition.
    • After all the controversies surrounding Vancouver 2010 gold medal, Plushenko and Lysacek seems to be in good terms now. Lysacek once called out NBC on twitter for discrediting Plushenko. He even praised Plushenko's performance in the team event. And in the TV interview after his withdrawal, Plushenko personally thanked Lysacek and Michelle Kwan for their support during the team events.
  • At the 2014 Olympics, figure skating legend Mao Asada, at what would eventually turn out to be her final Olympics, had a disastrous short program that left her in 16th going into the long program, despite being one of the challengers to win. With the pressure off, Asada skated a beautiful and flawless long program that left her in Tears of Joy at the end. Although she didn't finish on the podium like she wanted, she had her Olympic moment and skated what is still considered to be one of the greatest performances of all time.

    Rio De Janeiro 2016 
  • In 2016, Brazil picks Vanderlei de Lima to lit the Olympic Cauldron during the Opening Ceremony, a huge honor.
  • Michael Phelps' final Olympic race, which resulted in one more gold. After the race, the crowd gives him a roaring ovation, and you can tell he's getting emotional over the moment. All in all, a great way to say goodbye to one of the greatest Olympic athletes of all time.
  • The Refugee Olympic Team, team of ten athletes from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, not only being able to participate but during the opening ceremonies, they received the warmest reception of any team and the crowd went nuts.
  • Colombian weightlifter Óscar Figueroa cries Tears of Joy when he finally gets the gold medal in the 62 kg. event, in his last Olympics ever. He then takes off his sport shoesnote  and thanks the public.
  • This was spotted outside a bank not long before the men's rugby sevens finals, which would give Fiji its first ever medal no matter how the game went. Then they won. The country roared.
  • South Africa, another strong competitor in Olympic Rugby Sevens, had their star player Seabelo Senatla get a wrist injury in the quarterfinal match against Australia. When the team got the bronze, the player who substituted in, Francois Hougaard, gave his medal to Senatlanote , feeling he deserved it more.
  • In the Rio 2016 men's 100m butterfly, a young swimmer from Singapore named Joseph Schooling went up against the American Michael Phelps, South African Chad le Clos, and Hungarian Laszlo Cseh, three of the fastest and most decorated Olympians in history. To the shock of both himself and the world, Schooling beat them for the gold medal. And what makes it even better? Phelps was Schooling's idol as a child and had been his inspiration in swimming, an abstract goal that Phelps had wished to accomplish by the end of his career. In the words of several sportscasters: "The Kid Beat the King."
  • Among the many celebrations Usain Bolt had around the stadium after winning the Rio men's 100m, which made him the first man to win that event in three consecutive Olympics, he took time out to stop and congratulate Wayde van Niekerk, the winner of the 400m and new world record holder for that event.
  • In the women's 5000m race at the 2016 Olympics, runners Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand and Abbey D'Agostino of the USA were both running with about four laps to go when D'Agostino tripped and collided with Hamblin. Instead of running ahead, D'Agostino helped Hamblin up, but had injured her ankle in the collision and fell after taking a few steps. Hamblin then helped D'Agostino up, and didn't run ahead until she saw that the injured D'Agostino could run by herself. When D'Agostino eventually made it to the finish, Hamblin was waiting there to give her a hug. A protest was filed and accepted, allowing both runners to have spots in the finals if they're healthy.
    • They were not. D'Agostino was hauled away in a wheelchair that night, and found to have a torn right ACL and meniscus and a strained medial collateral ligament. She watched and cheered from the stands as Nikki Hamblin ran in the final, finishing in 17th place. Miss Hamblin said, "You can make friends in the moments that really should break your heart." Now that's Olympic spirit. There was a movement to allow Miss D'Agostino to carry the U.S. flag in the closing ceremonies. The U.S. team eventually voted for four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles, an Afro-American, to be the flag carrier.note 
  • Despite many complaints about the unsportsmanlike behavior of the Brazilian crowds, the love and support given to Cape Verde rhythmic gymnast Elyane Boal, who finished last and did not score nearly as high as her competitors, during qualifications was very heartwarming to see.
  • The Rio Opening Ceremony taking the time to show us that the environment matters and that we must take care of our planet. And then they create the Olympic Rings out of greenery.
    • Every single athlete carried in a seed into the stadium, which will be planted after the games is over to create the Athlete's Forest. There are 11,000 in total.
  • After Brazil's gold medal win against Germany in the Men's Soccer finals, the absolutely wonderful sound of the stadium singing along to the Brazilian national anthem is mesmerizing.
  • The camaraderie among the 2016 US gymnastics team. One cute moment came after Aly Raisman's semi-final floor routine: she finished in happy tears and gave Simone Biles a hug. Simone could be heard saying, "No crying"—she knew full well that it'd just make her start crying as well before her routine.
    • There's also how nice they were to gymnasts from other countries. They were incredibly friendly to their chief competitors from Brazil, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia. Aly and Simone even tried to bring over Aliya Mustafinanote  for a picture following their victories, and Aliya was the first to hug and congratulate them afterward.
  • Speaking of gymnastics, Brazil winning silver and bronze for the men's floor exercise. Both athletes were in floods of tears.
  • One moment that went viral was a selfie taken by gymnasts Lee Eun Ju of South Korea and Hong Un Jong of North Korea. A moment of friendliness that we can only hope encourages peace between the rival countries.

    Pyeongchang 2018 
  • Upon seeing Canadian bobsledders Justin Kripps and Alexander Kopacz achieve the same time as them in their final run for two-man bobsledding, awarding both teams the gold medal, German bobsledders Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis immediately went to give their competitors a hug. The elation on the German team's faces were such a sight, given the 2018 Pyeongchang Games was redemption for Friedrich, who didn't make the podium in the event at the 2014 Sochi Games.
  • Figure skating has a lot of those:
    • Canada, although has been a history maker in singles figure skating, producing its fair share of World and Grand Prix Champions, has never earned a Men Singles Olympic Gold, with most of their Olympians getting silver. It included Sochi Silver Medallist, Patrick Chan, who also decided Pyeong Chang is going to be his last competition in the career. So, what does Team Canada do? (For extra heart-warming, knowing that Chan was putting pressure on himself not to let the team down, teammates Eric Radford and Scott Moir went out their way to help boost his confidence They put out one of their best performances in the Team Event, finishing ahead of Olympic Athletes from Russia and USA just to make sure that Chan will retire with at least one Olympic gold.
    • Yuzuru Hanyu makes history with being first man to win back-to-back golds in 66 years and only fourth in history of Men singles skating, doing so on a still injured ankle, so it's understandable that he shed tears after the scores came up. However, as he explains later, there was one more reason to them: bronze medallist, Spain's Javier Fernandez was Yuzuru's longtime training partner. He missed out on Sochi podium due to jumping mistake, and Hanyu admitted that he saw how hard it actually was for Spaniard, so he was doubly happy to share podium with him.
    • At the victory ceremony, right after the event, Hanyu had to gesture several times for his fellow medallists (Shoma Uno and Javier Fernandez) to join him on the top step. When they finally realized that he wanted them to step up, Hanyu pulled them both closer for a hug. Awwww...
    • Actually, the whole friendship between Brian Orser's pupils. They have been training for six years together, went through their highs and downs, and never have anything but good words to say about each other.
    • Pairs Bruno Massot admitting that he didn't want his partner, Aliona Savchenko, come from her fifth Olympics with another bronze. They won gold. Many of their fellow competitors were thrilled for Savchenko.
  • Dutch-born Canadian speedskater Ted-Jan Bloemen had originally grown up and trained in the Netherlands, known for a heavily saturated pool of Olympic speedskating champions. After years of inconsistent support (sometimes, they wouldn't even allocate him a coach), Bloemen made a difficult decision to accept an offer from Canada, where his father had been born, to join their speedskating team and received the support and resources he lacked. The change turned out for the best for Bloemen and Canada - Bloemen won a silver medal in the 5000m and then beat Sven Kramer for the gold medal in the 10000m, while becoming the first non-Dutch skater to win a speed-skating event at the 2018 Games and also setting the new Olympic Record for that distance, breaking the record that had been set minutes earlier by Dutch skater Jorrit Bergsma.