Believe it or not, there were athletes in Rio competing for countries that aren’t Canada. Lots of them, in fact!
Some of those athletes put in performances that left an indelible mark in the memories of all who watched the Olympic Games unfold. So as we close the book on Rio 2016, here’s a look at 10 of the top stories from these Games that didn’t involve Canadian competitors.
Bolt’s Triple Triple
Usain Bolt says he’s the greatest of all time—and after his performance in Rio, who could disagree? The iconic Jamaican sprinter completed an unprecedented and perhaps unrepeatable “triple triple” at these Games, winning his third consecutive Olympic gold medals all three of the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay events.
Van Niekerk’s Run
Bolt wasn’t the only man making history on the track. Racing from lane eight in the 400m final, 24-year-old Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa sent shockwaves throughout the Olympic Stadium when he won the gold medal in a time of 43.03, breaking the world record that had been set by Michael Johnson way back in 1999.
Swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, added five more golds and a silver to his ridiculous career haul of 28 medals. Fellow American Katie Ledecky smashed a few world records (in the 400m and 800m freestyle) en route to four golds and a silver of her own, while Katinka Hosszu of Hungary dominated the early days in Rio, winning three golds and a silver.
Gymnast Simone Biles came into her first Olympic Games with plenty of hype—and she lived up to it. The 19-year-old American won gold in the team all-around, individual all-around, vault and floor exercise, plus a bronze on the balance beam. That earned her the honour of carrying the stars and stripes into the Closing Ceremony.
Triumph For Fiji
The introduction of rugby sevens to the Olympic program proved a defining moment for the small South Pacific nation of Fiji. The men’s team, which has a history of success in the sport, came through with an emotional gold medal in Rio—the first Olympic medal ever won by Fiji in any event.
Redemption for Neymar
The script couldn’t have been written any better for Neymar, the captain of Brazil’s men’s soccer team. In the final against Germany—who had humiliated Brazil 7-1 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup—Neymar scored a stunning free kick, then converted the winning penalty kick to give the host nation its first-ever Olympic gold in soccer.
More Medals for Mo
Mo Farah thrilled the hometown crowd at London 2012, winning gold in the men’s 5,000m and 10,000m for Great Britain. Four years later in Rio, the 33-year-old sealed his Olympic legacy by defending his crown in both events.
For the first time, these Olympic Games featured a team of 10 international refugees, as a response to the “worldwide refugee crisis”. Though the team did not win any medals, its members’ stories—most famously, the tale of teenaged Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini—served to inspire watchers around the world.
First time charms
Several nations experienced historic firsts in Rio. Majlinda Kelmendi (judo) won the first-ever gold medal for Kosovo, competing independently for the first time, while Sara Ahmed (weightlifting, Egypt) and Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin (Iran, taekwondo) became the first women to win Olympic medals for their respective countries.
An Olympic Shoe-in
After a mid-race collision in the semifinals of the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Etenesh Diro of Ethiopia had to abandon one of her shoes. Despite finishing the race with one bare foot, she did qualify for the final (with, it must be said, the help of a post-race appeal from her team).