Extraordinary Olympic moments that outshined the competition

·8 min read

With no fans in the stands due to the pandemic, the Olympics look a little different this year — but the lack of spectators does not mean a lack of enthusiasm. Here are some of the inspiring moments that outshined the competition.

1. 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby wins gold — and her Alaska hometown goes wild

Lydia Jacoby was the first American woman to win a gold medal in the swimming events in Tokyo. The high school student dominated the women's 100-meter breaststroke, completing it in 1 minute, 4.95 seconds — and when she did, her hometown went wild.

Footage from a watch party in Seward, Alaska shows friends and family jumping for joy after Jacoby, the first Alaskan to make the U.S. swim team, earned gold. 

The scene back home in Seward, Alaska as 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby won the gold medal 👏👏👏🎥 @NBCOlympicspic.twitter.com/hdMkEi1cx9

— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) July 27, 2021 2. Coach Dean Boxall can't contain his excitement after swimmer Ariarne Titmus beats reigning champ

Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus beat Team USA's Katie Ledecky in the 400-meter freestyle by two-thirds of a second Monday.

Titmus' coach Dean Boxall went wild after she won. Cameras caught Boxall — hard to miss in a neon yellow shirt — punching the air, shouting and pacing back and forth in sheer excitement. His celebration quickly went viral on social media.

when the preworkout kicks in #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/xkU7zyF0gG

— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 26, 2021 3. Athletes show off Olympic Village — including their cardboard beds

Upon arriving in Tokyo, several athletes began posting "tours" of the Olympic Village on social media — some, including Team USA skateboarder Nyjah Huston and Team USA track and field runner Paul Chelimo, showed off the odd cardboard beds.

The cardboard beds are made sustainably, out of "highly durable cardboard materials," according to the Tokyo Organizing Committee's pre-game report. "These will be turned into recycled paper after the Games."

Still, many athletes seized the opportunity to use the beds in fun social media posts, with the Team USA rugby women posting a tongue-in-cheek TikTok video about the seemingly stiff beds that has gone viral.

4. Tom Daley's mom and husband celebrate his first gold medal

British diver Tom Daley made his Olympics debut at the 2008 Beijing games — when he was just 14 years old. Fast forward to 2021, Daley is now a father and husband, and after years of trying, he finally brought home the gold.

Daley's husband Dustin Lance Black, and mom, Debbie, were watching together at home — and their ecstatic reaction to the win melted hearts on social media.

This is special ❤️Just look at the reaction from Tom Daley's husband and mum after they see Tom win gold alongside Matty Lee 🥰#bbcolympics #tokyo2020 #teamgb

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 26, 2021 5. 46-year-old Oksana Chusovitina receives standing ovation at final Olympics

Ukrainian gymnast Oksana Chusovitina has competed in eight Olympic games and recently announced that at 46 years old, Tokyo would be her last.

Chusovitina competed in the vault event on Sunday and after competing, the stadium gave her a standing ovation, honoring the history-making gymnast for decades of work in the sport.

Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina has officially competed at her EIGHTH Olympic Games.At 46 years old, she competed for one last time and received a standing ovation from her competitors. #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/qJgPTWICAD

— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 26, 2021 6. Swimmer Caeleb Dressel tosses his first Olympic medal to his teammate in the stands

Caeleb Dressel won a gold medal for Team USA in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay on Monday, and immediately tossed the medal to Brooks Curry, his teammate seated in the bleachers.

Curry helped Dressel earn the medal, as he was the swimmer who competed in the preliminary round. Dressel swam for the final and shared his win with the teammate who helped get him there. 

Class. 🥇Caeleb Dressel gave his gold medal to Brooks Curry, who swam for Dressel in the prelims. Dressel replaced Curry for the final. #TokyoOlympics x @USASwimming pic.twitter.com/u9wcbU8kHH

— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 26, 2021 7. Suni Lee's friends and family react to her historic win

Suni Lee became the fifth straight American woman to win gold in the women's Olympic gymnastics all-around at the Olympics on Thursday.

When Lee, the first Hmong-American Olympian, cinched the gold, 18-year-old's friends and family watching at home in Minnesota erupted in cheers – including her dad, John Lee, who was paralyzed in an accident in 2019. "All the hard work all the broken bones, all the time you missed vacationing with us, it paid off," he said after his daughter's win. 

Golden reaction for a golden moment! 🥇@sunisalee_'s family witnessing her historic win!#TokyoOlympics | #OlympicHERstory | @OnHerTurf pic.twitter.com/WcrZv3llaB

— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 29, 2021 8. Fellow swimmers embrace Tatjana Schoenmaker after she wins gold

South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker looked astonished after she won gold in the 200m breaststroke, breaking a world record. Not only did her teammate Kaylene Corbett embrace her, so did Team USA's Lilly King and Annie Lazor. 

Despite being on opposing teams, all four women had a group hug the pool, celebrating Schoenmaker's win. 

What a wonderful moment! Tatjana Schoenmaker wins gold for South Africa and breaks the world record while Lilly King and Annie Lazor pick up silver and bronze. The embrace afterwards is just awesome. pic.twitter.com/eJLSWfp8hZ

— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) July 30, 2021 9. Melissa González's husband — David Blough — cheers her on

As Team Colombia's Melissa Gonzalez ran in the qualifying race for the 400-meter hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics, she had a fan watching in the U.S.

Her husband, David Blough, a quarterback for the Detroit Lions, looked on with bated breath at a watch party with some of his teammates. The Lions set up a camera to catch the supportive husband's reaction. 

10. Tom Daley knits in the stands

About a week after Tom Daley won a gold medal for diving at the Tokyo Olympics – and knit his medal a little homemade cozy – he was seen watching other events in the stands, knitting.

Oh this? Just Olympic champ @TomDaley1994 knitting in the stands while watching the diving. 🧶 pic.twitter.com/o17i6vsG2j

— Olympics (@Olympics) August 1, 2021 11. High jumpers who tied agree to share medal

Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi proved to be the top high jumpers at the Tokyo Olympics. The two tied in the event, and instead of having a jump-off to decide who scored higher, they agreed to share the gold medal. 

Their epic celebration together after both winning gold went viral, showing the world what sportsmanship is all about.

Olympic high jumpers from Italy and Qatar tied. Instead of having a jump off, the friends decided to share the gold medal – showing what true sportsmanship really is ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ZEvECyrHgB

— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 2, 2021 12. Surfer translates for opponent

Japanese-American surfer Kanoa Igarashi, who competed for Japan, lost to Brazilian Italo Ferreira in the sport's first Olympic appearance. He lost his shot at gold, but not his sportsmanship.

Igarashi, who knows Portuguese, translated a press conference question for Ferreira, who is learning English, the Associated Press reports. "Yes, thank you, Kanoa," Ferreira said in English after the silver medalist helped him.

13. Runners get tangled and fall during race – then help each other finish

Team USA's Isaiah Jewett and Botswana's Nijel Amos were competing in the 800-meter semifinals when they got tangled up and fell. The runners didn't get angry at the ruined race. Instead, they got up, wrapped their arms around each other and walked to the finish line together. 

After having their races cut short, Isaiah Jewett and Nijel Amos showed the ultimate sportsmanship. #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/71lwSbY0x5

— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 1, 2021 14. Ryan Crouser holds up message for grandfather after winning gold

Team USA's Ryan Crouser won his second gold medal in the shot put competition at the Olympics on Wednesday. After breaking his own previous record, Crouser became emotional as he held up a piece of paper with a message on it.

"Grandpa, we did it," the sign read. "2020 Olympic champion." Crouser cried as he held the sign up for cameras to capture while family members watched from home. 

15. Teammates and "supermommies" compete together

Team USA's Allyson Felix and Quanera Hayes are fierce competitors in the 400-meter hurdles. In fact, Hayes – who has called Felix her "idol" – defeated her earlier this year at the Olympic trials. But there didn't seem to be bad blood between the competitors.

The two ended the trials by introducing their children, Demetrius and Camryn, both 2, on the track. The adorable moment of the toddlers hugging was shared during Olympics coverage as their moms competed together again. 

"SUPERMOMMIES! YEAH!"Quanera Hayes' son and @allysonfelix's daughter met after their moms qualified for the #TokyoOlympics. The moment speaks for itself.@usatf | #TokyoOlympics x #TrackFieldTrials21 pic.twitter.com/MCrlvJ7G9e

— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 21, 2021

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