2016 has been a pretty hectic year in terms of newsworthy events, but the highlight of the summer was arguably the Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro. Being the first South American nation to host the prestigious event, there was a significant amount of pressure on Brazil to deliver a Games like no other. Whilst the lead up to the Games, and the event itself, was shrouded some in controversy, Rio managed to pull off 16 straight days of sporting entertainment. There was everything from world record breakers, huge upsets, accidents and spectacular displays of athletic prowess.
Every four years the finest athletes from across the globe compete against one another for a slice of Olympic glory – and hopefully a medal or two (or six if you’re Michael Phelps). This year there were 41 sports on offer, from archery and volleyball all the way to Greco-Roman wrestling. As usual, the crowd favorites did not disappoint with football, basketball, athletics, swimming and gymnastics, all giving their share of thrills and spills. Here is Tep’s run down of the highlights you might have missed.
The Sporting Highlights
The Games began with a spectacular opening ceremony that saw fireworks redecorate the skyline above the iconic Maracana stadium, in a celebration of Brazilian heritage. There were 206 nations participating, from Olympic heavy-weights China, USA and Russia all the way to the tiny nation island of Nauru.
2016 also saw the addition of #TeamRefugee, a group of 10 athletes chosen by the International Olympic Committee to represent refugees all over the world. Yusra Mardini, a swimmer and a member of team Refugee, had a particularly remarkable story. She used her talent to rescue 20 people, after their boat started to capsize whilst crossing the sea, and was forced to swim for over 3 hours in order to steer the boat to safety. Whilst she didn’t pick up a medal in the games, she did win her heat in the Women’s 100m Butterfly and served as a beacon of hope for refugees that anything is possible.
The Olympic stars were out in force in Rio including ‘king of speed’ Usain Bolt and ‘flying fish’ Michael Phelps. Both men, who are world record holders in their respective events, managed to retain their titles and put on one last incredible show for fans. Bolt picked up gold medals in Men’s 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay and Phelps, already the most decorated Olympian in history, took his Olympic medal tally to 28 with an outstanding performance with 5 gold medals and 1 silver in Rio. The two athletes who are now both over 30 have officially retired from Olympic sports but have left a legacy, and some pretty impressive records, for the generations to come.
Team USA dominated in the Women’s gymnastics with a win for the team but the star of the show was undoubtedly Simone Biles, who racked up an amazing 4 gold medals and 1 bronze. Dubbed ‘one of the greatest gymnasts of all time’ Biles even has her own signature move named after her, which is an absolute crowd favorite.
Another impressive woman to come from Team USA was Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab whilst competing in the Olympic Games. Muhammad represented the U.S. in sabre fencing and managed to secure a bronze medal whilst also combating multiple negative stereotypes of Muslims, African Americans and women.
The Rio Games saw over 70 world records being broken with one of the most nail biting being the Men’s 400m final in which South African Wayde van Niekerk smashed Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old record by 0.15 seconds. Another impressive record breaking event came in the Men’s 100m Butterfly where 21-year-old Singaporean, Joseph Schooling, beat his idol Michael Phelps in the pool – just 8 years after they met at a training camp.
Other Highlights from the Games
Close to a third of all nations that compete in the Olympics have never won a single medal but for Fiji and Puerto Rico, Rio 2016 officially ended their medal dry spell. The Men’s Rugby Seven’s Team from the island of Fiji managed to take away gold and with it, bring home the country’s first ever medal. Likewise, Monica Puig held off Angelique Kerber of Germany in the Women’s Tennis finals to clinch the title and Puerto Rico’s first ever gold medal.
The Host nation was under a huge amount of pressure to deliver on gold medals this Olympic Games and luckily they did not disappoint in two of the country’s best-loved sports, football and volleyball. Brazil’s Men’s football team defeated Germany to take the gold medal in football – and after 2014’s spectacular 7-1 World Cup defeat to the Germans, the Brazilian team finally got their own back. The Men’s Volleyball team also sealed the deal on the final day to the delight of the local spectators and brought the country’s gold medal tally to 7.
The Rio 2016 Games will also be remembered for some exceptional displays of sportsmanship. In the Women’s 5,000-meter heat New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin tripped and fell mid-race and took down another runner, Abbey D’Agostino from Team USA. Instead of simply getting up and continuing the race, the American D’Agostino decided to help her fellow competitor up and later on when she faltered Hamblin stepped in and helped her across the finish line. Whilst neither went on to win the race, both athletes received a ‘fair play’ award for their sportsmanship.
One of the most iconic photos to come out of the Olympics was this photo between two gymnasts from North Korea and South Korea. The simple act of taking a selfie between Lee Eun Ju (S. Korea) and Hong Un Jong (N. Korea) transcended the years of political tension between their two countries and showed that the Olympics can truly bring unity to the world.
The next Olympic games are due to be held in Tokyo in September 2020. If you’re planning to head out to Japan to witness first hand the magical atmosphere that the Olympics brings, we suggest you go prepared to capture the action. Your mobile phone can be the easiest way to navigate the various venues, keep up with the latest sporting news, live stream world records being broken and hopefully even snap selfies with the Olympians themselves!
Unless you want to end up like one of Japan’s Olympic athletes this year – who racked up a $5,000 dollar bill whilst using his mobile phone playing Pokémon Go in Brazil – we suggest you arm yourself with your very own Tep Wireless device. The device works in over 80 countries worldwide and gives you seamless access to the internet without ever having to change SIM cards. The device costs a fixed amount per day ($9.95) and means you’ll never have to stress about crazy roaming charges. The device can also be used by up to 5 people simultaneously, so is a super cost effective way for you, your friends and family to feed your every data need.