At the Centennial Olympic Games, Mohammad 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.
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.
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.
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 simply indescribable.
"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 athlete (name unavailable at the moment) 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.
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.
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 Funnywhere 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.
They did this again in 2014 in Sochi. 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 Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Winter Olympics.
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.
2012 Summer Olympics: 4 athletes are independently affiliated. 3 are from a recently dissolved country (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 three (the South Sudanese athlete wasn't able to make it to the opening ceremony because of visa issues) 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 2012 100m 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.
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.
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. Ultimately 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'.
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.
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 commenters 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.
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.
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 here (the hug starts at about 4:00 mins). Many ice-hockey teams started doing the same later at key moments of important matches. Both teams were strong but Canada was favoured. Darkhorse Victory made it all the more heartwarming.
The look on Wayne Gretzky's face (see 9:38 in the video linked above) 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 townsquares 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).
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 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 1000 M and bronze in the 1500 M.
Post-competition, Morrison has nominated Junio on social media to be Canada's flagbearer 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 him. 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 (and the pair they cam 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.” 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.
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 Dominique Pegg, Elsabeth Black, Victoria Moors, Brittany Rogers, and Kristina Vaculik 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.
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 daughter—named Jane—during his victory lap.
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!