The Olympic Games have a way of bringing people together.
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, what you’re doing – when your country is being represented on an international stage, you tune in. And together, nation to nation, around the globe, we simultaneously watch these athletes do amazing things.
The Games create unforgettable memories that you carry with you for the rest of your life.
So here’s a look back at some of our all-time favourite unforgettable Olympic moments:
Sidney Crosby’s Golden Goal – Vancouver 2010
Who could ever forget this? It was in this moment, seven minutes and 40 seconds into overtime of the Vancouver 2010 men’s hockey gold medal game against long-time rival the United States, that every Canadian across the country jumped out of their seats to cheer for Sid the Kid.
Only minutes earlier Canada was leading 2-1 in the third, a win seconds from their reach. That’s when American Zach Parise buried one past Roberto Luongo off of a Patrick Kane rebound with just 24 seconds left in the game to even the score. Canada fell silent.
The opening minutes of overtime left Canadians on the edge of their seats, until Crosby found teammate Jarome Iginla down low, who then passed it right back to Crosby as he drove towards the American goal. Crosby shoots from an impossible angle… and he scores!
The best part about this was not only that Canada beat the U.S to win the gold, but they did this at home – making it Canada’s first Olympic men’s hockey gold earned on Canadian ice.
Usain Bolt – The World’s Fastest Man
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Usain Bolt?!
The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games were a defining moment for this Jamaican sprinter, as he emerged as the fastest man alive, snatching gold and setting the world record in both the 100m and 200m races. Bolt ran the 100m final in 9.69 seconds and the 200m in a time of 19.30. If this wasn’t enough, four years later at London 2012 he picked up three gold medals in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay – improving on his initial record set in Beijing. This time around, he ran the 100m race in an Olympic record 9.63 seconds. Then to top it all off, four years after that at Rio 2016, he did it again and won another three gold medals, becoming the first athlete to three-peat in the 100m and 200m.
The Miracle on Ice – 1980 U.S. Men’s Hockey Team
Do you believe in miracles?
The 1980 U.S men’s ice hockey team was a group of young rookies taking the ice – in contrast to the elite and experienced Soviet team. These boys weren’t supposed to win much of anything, let alone this game in which the USSR was heavily favored to win.
The semi-final match up – which had the Soviets leading 3-2 by the third period – was quickly turned around when U.S. captain Mike Eruzione and forward Mark Johnson fired two shots past the Soviet goalkeeper, giving them a 4-3 lead. The Americans held onto this lead and went on to win the game – making for one of the biggest upsets in sports history. They would then move on to defeat Finland in their quest for Olympic gold.
Greg Joy’s High Jump – Montreal 1976
Canadians around the country jumped for joy when Greg Joy took home the silver medal in men’s high jump on Canadian soil at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. Joy cleared the 2.23m mark, leaving reigning American world champion Dwight Stone in the dust. Despite losing the gold to Poland’s Jacek Wzola, who cleared 2.25m, it was still a major win for Canadians. The silver medal would be the highest one earned for Canada at these Games, as they became the first country to host the Olympic Games and not win a gold medal on their turf. This gold medal drought is something that would continue until they hosted the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
Derek Redmond’s Strong Finish – Barcelona 1992
Resilience. Strength. Perseverance. Sportsmanship.
These are all words that can be used to describe British sprinter Derek Redmond’s performance in the 400m semi-final at the 1992 Olympic Games held in Barcelona. Redmond, who was favoured to win gold, tore his hamstring and fell to the ground during the race. Instead of being carried off on a stretcher by Olympic crew members, he picked himself back up to finish the race in hopes that he could catch up to the other sprinters. As he was limping across the track, Redmond’s father Jim ran down to help him – lending himself as a crutch to his son. Together, the pair finished the race despite Redmond’s clear anguish with each step he took.
Joannie Rochette’s Ode to her Mother – Vancouver 2010
Just a few short days after arriving in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games, Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette received tragic news that her mother had died suddenly from a heart attack. This took place just two days before she was set to perform her short program. Though she was heartbroken by the news, Rochette relied on her inner strength and decided to compete in her mother’s honour. During her short program, she set a personal best with a score of 71.36 that landed her in third place.
Then two days later, she not only performed her long program, but also found herself on the podium in third place – receiving a bronze medal for her emotional routine. Rochette was eventually chosen to be the flag bearer for Team Canada at the Closing Ceremony and was named a recipient of the Vancouver 2010 Terry Fox Award – something awarded to Olympians who showed determination and humility in adverse circumstances.
Alex Bilodeau and Canada’s Golden Moment – Vancouver 2010
Canada didn’t win a single gold medal on home soil at Montreal 1976 or Calgary 1988, but Canada finally got their gold at home with Alex Bilodeau’s moguls performance at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Bilodeau executed a speedy run with flawless backflips that led him to victory over defending Olympic champ Dale Begg-Smith from Australia, scoring a 26.75 to Begg-Smith’s 26.58. This top score made Bilodeau the first Canadian to win a gold medal at an Olympic Games held in Canada, but what was most memorable from this moment was Bilodeau’s post-win celebration with his older brother Frederic who suffers from cerebral palsy. The moment filled Canadians with pride and melted their hearts all at once.
Michael Phelps – The Fish
Man or fish – we’re still not sure.
Michael Phelps’ performances throughout his Olympic career has led him to be deemed one of – if not the greatest – Olympians of all time, and rightfully so. The American swimmer earned himself not one, not two… but eight gold medals at Beijing 2008. From his debut at Athens 2004 to his retirement after Rio 2016, he has taken home a whooping 28 medals – 23 of which are gold. This haul has made him the most decorated Olympian of all time – something that will likely go unchallenged in our lifetime, making him definitely unforgettable.
Canada Surprises the World with Gold – Atlanta 1996
Canada shocked the world at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta when they took home gold in the men’s 4x100m relay. The team, consisting of Carlton Chambers, Robert Esmie, Glenroy Gilbert, Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey, were the first team to ever beat the United States to the finish line. The U.S. was the heavily favoured to win, having never lost an Olympic race except by disqualification. Canada finished the relay in 37.69 seconds to the U.S.’s distant 38.05. With this time, the Canadians were just 0.29 seconds shy of a new world record, not to mention that this happened exactly a week after Bailey won the men’s 100m gold, setting a new world record in the process.
Penny Oleksiak, Canada’s Girl – Rio 2016
At only 16 years old, Penny Oleksiak won the hearts of Canadians with her performance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Oleksiak hauled in one gold, one silver and two bronze medals in her Olympic swimming debut – making her the first Canadian to win four medals at the same summer Games. She also became Canada’s youngest gold medallist when she tied for gold with American Simone Manuel in record time in the 100m freestyle. The most memorable part? She didn’t even know it. After the race, Oleksiak hung onto the touch pad to catch her breath and waited nearly half a minute before turning around to realize she won the gold medal – though everyone else knew.
This was Canada’s first gold in swimming in over two decades, having achieved their last one at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Oleksiak also became Canada’s first woman to earn a gold in swimming since Annie Ottenbrite at Los Angeles 1984.