Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony
Stunning special effects, breathtaking fireworks and the famous Brazilian dancing spirit all combined to provide the perfect “Welcome to Rio” party. With thousands at the heart of the ceremony inside the iconic Maracanã Stadium and millions watching across the world, the Olympic Games Rio 2016 were declared open in truly spectacular fashion.
Yusra Mardini (Swimming, Refugee Olympic Team)
One year ago, Mardini was swimming across the Aegean Sea with a boat packed full of asylum seekers in tow, eventually reaching the shores of Lesbos and saving the lives of everyone on board. Last week, she swam at the Olympic Games, winning her 100m butterfly heat under the banner of the Refugee Olympic Team. The 18-year-old Syrian has inspired the world with her extraordinary story.
Majlinda Kelmendi (Judo, Kosovo)
Kosovo were officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) two years ago, and it did not take long for the eastern European country to secure its first-ever medal, with judoka Kelmendi clinching an historic and highly emotional gold in the women’s 52kg.
Juan Martin Del Potro (Tennis, Argentina)
Del Potro upset the odds in London four years ago by beating Novak Djokovic to bronze in the men’s tennis singles, his first career victory over the Serbian. That he repeated the feat in Rio was arguably even more impressive given the dominance that Djokovic has enjoyed in the men’s game in recent years.
Isadora Cerullo (Rugby sevens, Brazil)
Cerullo’s disappointment at being eliminated from the women’s rugby sevens event at her home Games was quickly forgotten when her girlfriend, Marjorie Enya, proposed to her on the rugby field – an unprecedented Olympic moment that melted hearts the world over.
Ibtihaj Muhammad (Fencing, USA)
The 30-year-old fencer made history as the first American Olympian to compete for her country wearing a hijab in the women’s individual sabre event. “It’s been a truly rewarding experience to not just be a member of Team USA but also to represent so many different people around the world,” she said.
Zahra Nemati (Archery, Iran)
A talented taekwondo athlete in her youth, Nemati suffered spinal injuries in a car accident in 2003, losing the use of both of her legs. Unperturbed, she took up archery, and took to the range to compete at her first Olympic Games, having won two medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Although Nemati exited at the round of 32 stage in Rio, hers is a remarkable story – and one that is set to continue at the Paralympic Games next month.
Jack Laugher/Chris Mears (Diving, Great Britain)
Another landmark moment, this time for Team GB in the diving pool. Laugher and Mears earned the country’s first-ever diving gold in the men’s synchronised 3m springboard final, beating a China team that was aiming for a clean sweep of the Olympic diving gold medals.
Eric Murray/Hamish Bond (Rowing, New Zealand)
What do Murray and Bond have in common with Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt? They all utterly dominate their respective sports. The New Zealand duo cruised to gold in the men’s coxless pair – their 69th consecutive win on the water, a streak that stretches back to 2009. Peerless.
Ma Long (Table Tennis, China)
When it comes to table tennis at the Games, an all-Chinese final has almost become something of a formality. Yet the way in which world no.1 Ma Long crushed compatriot Zhang Jike in the men’s singles final with a 4-0 victory was nevertheless astonishing. The 27-year-old can now add Olympic gold to his World Championship and World Cup titles.