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5 heartwarming stories from the Olympics

2020ne Olympics are off to a great start, thanks to these stories

Hidilyn Diaz celebrates on her way to a gold medal and Olympic record in women's 55kg weightlifting.
Hidilyn Diaz celebrates on her way to a gold medal and Olympic record in women's 55kg weightlifting.

The Tokyo Olympics are still just getting started, but there already have been a good collection of stories that have pulled at the heartstrings of millions around the world.

Here are five of our favorites, thus far.


5. A Tunisian swimmer goes from last to first.

Ahmed Hafnaoui, of Tunisia, celebrates after winning the final of the men's 400-meter freestyle at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Ahmed Hafnaoui entered the finals of the 400 meter freestyle as an afterthought, given he barely even qualified for the final event.

Hafnaoui had the slowest qualifying time of any of the eight finalists, so not much was expected of the 18-year-old as he entered the pool in what’s normally the obscure lane 8.

Minutes later, Hafnaoui made sure the world’s eyes were entirely on lane 8 after he stunningly out-touched every other swimmer to win the gold medal. Hafnaoui screamed and pumped his fists in jubilation as cameras circled around him.

“It’s a dream that became true,” Hafnaoui told reporters afterward.


4. A 13-year-old gold medalist.

Momiji Nishiya of Japan reacts after winning the women's street skateboarding finals at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Skateboarding is an Olympic sport for the first time this year, and it has introduced several teenage athletes who qualified for their countries.

The teenybopper who stood out the most was Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, who, at the age of 13, won the gold medal in the skateboarding street event.

Nishiya beat out another 13-year old, Rayssa Leal of Brazil, who won the silver medal.


3. An athlete makes a stand against the country she won a medal for in Rio.

Iran's Nahid Kiyani, front, attacks Kimia Alizadeh, of the Refugee Olympic Team, during the women's 57kg match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

In 2016, Kimia Alizadeh became the first woman in Iran’s history to win an Olympic medal for her country when she won a bronze medal in taekwondo at the Rio Games.

On Sunday, Alizadeh returned to the taekwondo competition in Tokyo by competing against an Iranian athlete.

Following her historic achievement in Rio, Alizadeh defected what she felt was an oppressive Iranian government, according to Sports Illustrated.

Alizadeh hoped to compete for Germany after defecting to that country in January 2020, but there wasn’t enough time to gain citizenship and eligibility there.

Alizadeh would have missed the Olympics had they been held last year, but the COVID-caused postponement allowed her enough time to join a refugee team to compete for this year.

Alizadeh won that first match against Iranian Nahid Kiyani Chandeh, fell just short of medaling, and finishing fourth after losing the bronze-medal match to Hatice Ilgun of Turkey.

But despite not medaling, Alizadeh made a statement for herself and to the world.


2. Siblings each win gold medals on the same day in same sport.

Hifumi Abe of Japan reacts after competing against Vazha Margvelashvili of Georgia in their men's -66kg gold medal judo match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Hifumi and Uta Abe entered the judo competition already a great story because they were a brother-sister duo that were competing in the Olympics on the same day for Japan.

Then, their story went from great to historic.

Uta Abe of Team Japan reacts after she defeated Amandine Buchard of Team France during the Women's Judo 52kg Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Nippon Budokan.

Hifumi and Uta each won gold medals in their respective weight classes, doing so just nine minutes apart to become the first brother-sister duo in Olympic history to win gold medals in individual sports on the same day.

The 21-year-old Uta beat France’s Amandine Buchard in the 52kg judo final, and then her older brother, 24-year-old Hifumi, followed that up by winning the 66kg judo final against Vazha Margvelashvili of Georgia.

“This has turned out to be the greatest day ever,” Hifumi said to reporters. I don’t think we, as brother and sister, couldn’t shine any brighter on this stage known as the Tokyo Olympics.”

If there were two prouder parents in Olympic history, you’d be hard-pressed to find them.


1. Historic golds are won by a weightlifter from the Philippines, a triathlete from Bermuda.

Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines celebrates as she competes and sets a new world record, winning the gold medal in the women's 55kg weightlifting event, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The tears of joy from Hidilyn Diaz and her coaches said it all.

Diaz, a weightlifter from the Philippines, did more than just win the gold medal in the 55kg category after lifting a combined 224 kilograms, an Olympic record.

Diaz became a legend in her country by winning the first gold medal ever at an Olympics for the Philippines.

For the first time ever at an Olympics, Filipinos got to hear their anthem played after an event was completed.

Obviously, Diaz was seen singing her country’s anthem out loud and looking proud during the medal ceremony.

Speaking to reporters, the 30-year-old Diaz said she was stuck in Malaysia for five months last year due to a COVID-caused travel ban, which forced her to build a gym and train with water bottles.

A year later, she’ll forever be remembered not only in the Philippines, but around the world.

The same can be said for Bermudian triathlete Flora Duffy, who, like Diaz, won the first-ever gold medal at the Olympics for her country.

Duffy won the triathlon in a time of 1:55.36, backing up two world championships by winning a gold medal for Bermuda, which, like the Philippines, got to hear its anthem play following an event at the Olympics for the first time.

Flora Duffy of Team Bermuda celebrates winning the gold medal during the Women's Individual Triathlon

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.