August 11, 2021
For 17 days we watched 10,305 of the world’s greatest athletes from 206 different countries, territories, or principalities compete for 339 medals in 33 different sports.
The opening ceremony spoke to the strange time this Olympics is taking place in as it was performed to an empty crowd in a stadium that normally can hold over 80,000 people. Outside the stadium was a completely different scene, as local Tokyo citizens protested the Olympics even taking place in what is still an unsure time for many.
Nonetheless the games took place, and mostly without any extra drama that we wouldn’t find at any Olympics. Unknown athletes became national heroes, previous champions added to their legacies, individual moments will be remembered for a lifetime. Let’s reflect on a few of those most memorable moments and performances from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
During the Men’s High Jump Qatar’s Mutaz-Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi were the only two athletes able to clear 2.37 meters. They both then attempted, but failed to clear 2.39 meters. This normally results in a jump-off, wherein each athlete attempts the jump until one of them completes it.
Instead Barshim approached the Olympic judge and asked if it would be possible to share the gold medal. Before the judge could even give his complete answer of yes, the pair had already made up their mind, hugging and celebrating each other.
Barshim, though trying to keep his cool, was seen in tears finally getting gold after bronze in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. The Italian, Tamberi, was nothing short of ecstatic. He had suffered an ankle injury prior to the 2016 games and was told he might not be able to compete in this Olympics either.
The two men, great friends both on and off the track, celebrated the gold medal together. When they were atop the podium, each took the time to place the gold medal around the other’s neck.
In 1992 Kevin Young set the record for Men’s 400m Hurdles with a time 46.78, the first time the event had ever been finished in under 47 seconds. That record would stand for almost three decades until being broken by Norway’s Karsten Warholm last month. During the Olympic finals, all three men who medaled finished with a time that would have beaten the previous world record. Brazil’s Alison Do Santos won the bronze with a time of 46.72, and USA’s Benjamin Rai secured silver with a time of 46.17. Warholm set a new standard for the event by beating his own record and becoming the first to finish in under 46 seconds. He crossed the line in 45.94 seconds, something that many previously thought was impossible.
“I just ran for my life,” said Warholm after his historic performance. “I would have died for that gold medal.”
The 24 year old gold medal performance was impressive, but perhaps even more impressive was what he did in the semi-finals. The fourth seed Zverev had to play the world number one ranked player, Serbian Novak Djokovic.
The Joker had not lost a set in his first four games in Tokyo, and dominated the first set against the German winning 6-1. Something in the match changed in the second set as the German won 10 games straight, the set 6-3, then kept his dominance going into the third set. Djokovic, usually the aggressor, looked powerless in the third set and eventually lost 6-1 sending Zverev to the gold medal match.
In the final Olympic match, the young German had lost no momentum beating Russian Karen Khachanov in straight sets 6-1 6-3 to bring Germany it’s first ever gold in Men’s Tennis Singles. Khachanov said of his opponent’s performance that, “From beginning to end, he played an unbelievable match.”
Zverev has yet to win a Grand Slam, so naturally reporters asked him afterwards if he thought this tournament would give him the confidence boost he might need to make that a reality. His response, “I don’t want to talk about the next Grand Slam because I have just won the Olympic Games, . . . I want to enjoy this one for two minutes.”
To bet on future tennis and other events check out our best sports betting sites of 2021.