Shared gold, knitting and cardboard dogs: memorable moments of Tokyo Olympics

Sports Tokyo 2020

Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim (L) and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy shared gold in the men's high jump. AFP
Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim (L) and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy shared gold in the men’s high jump. AFP

Tokyo, Japan | AFP

by Neil SANDS

The pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics may have lacked crowds, but there was no shortage of memorable moments. Here are some of the Games’ memorable moments:

Golden pact

Tokyo received a welcome dose of Olympic spirit when Mutaz Barshim of Qatar and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi put friendship before individual glory in the men’s high jump.

The pair were tied after their final efforts and were offered the chance of a jump-off for victory at a spectator-free Olympic Stadium, before Barshim asked: “Can we have two golds?”

The answer was yes and the jumpers -- friends who both overcame injury setbacks to make the Games -- shared top spot on the Olympic podium.

Tamberi was overcome with emotion, writhing around on the track before congratulating compatriot Lamont Marcell Jacobs on his shock win in the 100 metres sprint.

Aussie ecstasy

Australian swimming coach Dean Boxall’s wild, hip-thrusting celebrations provided the first viral moment of the Tokyo Games.

Boxall flipped out after his swimmer Ariarne Titmus clinched gold in the 400m freestyle ahead of fierce American rival Katie Ledecky.

Roaring with delight, the shaggy-haired swim guru kicked the air, hammered his fists and ground his hips against a perspex barrier.

“I think I went outside of my body,” Boxall later said, apologising for tearing off his face mask in his excitement.

Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus (L) is congratulated by her coach Dean Boxall. AFP
Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus (L) is congratulated by her coach Dean Boxall. AFP

‘So proud!’

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz ensured her place in Philippine folklore when she became the first athlete from the sprawling archipelago to win an Olympic gold medal.

The 30-year-old produced a personal best and set an Olympic record 224kg in the women’s 55kg class to edge her highly-fancied rival Liao Qiuyun of China by a single kilo.

It was a victory celebrated around the Philippines and forged in years of sacrifice by the Rio silver medallist, who trained for almost 18 months in exile in Malaysia because of Covid-19 restrictions.

“We are so proud of you!” tweeted Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz became the first gold medallist from the Philippines. AFP
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz became the first gold medallist from the Philippines. AFP

On a roll

Japan enjoyed skateboarding supremacy as the youth-orientated sport made its debut in Tokyo, giving the home crowd something to cheer as they watched the Games on television.

Japanese skateboarders won three of the four golds on offer, as well as one silver and one bronze.

The age of the hometown medallists certainly skewed towards the demographic being chased by Olympic organisers at 22, 19, 16, 13, and 12.

Thirteen-year-old Momiji Nishiya became the nation’s youngest Olympic champion with victory in the women’s street event and Kokona Hiraki, 12, claimed silver in women’s park.

Japan's Momiji Nishiya, 13, won skateboarding gold. AFP
Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, 13, won skateboarding gold. AFP

No knitwit

Britain’s Tom Daley won hearts when he finally became an Olympic champion at his fourth Games, then celebrated by showing off his knitting skills.

Daley and Matty Lee won the synchronised 10-metre platform to give the 27-year-old a gold medal to accompany bronze from London and Rio.

In the process, the pair broke the stranglehold of a Chinese team that won every other diving gold on offer in Tokyo, with Daley also claiming a bonus individual 10m platform bronze.

Daley knitted a Union Jack pouch to protect his gold medal while cheering on his teammates in the stands, also crafting a Great Britain cardigan and a purple sweater for his friend’s French bulldog.

British diver Tom Daley was seen with his knitting poolside. AFP
British diver Tom Daley was seen with his knitting poolside. AFP

Bulldog spirit

Simone Biles had an Olympics she will not forget in a hurry, but not for the reasons she anticipated when she arrived in Tokyo.

After dropping out of five of her six finals due to the now infamous mental block condition known as the “twisties”, her return for the closing beam was greeted with great excitement.

Not least by Lilo and Rambo, her two beloved French bulldogs. At least, canine cut-outs of her pets held aloft and wagging their carboard tails in the stands, barking mutely much to the delight of their mistress. 

After coming through her comeback routine to take bronze, Biles’s face lit up when she spotted them, blowing them kisses and waving. Goodness knows what the real versions will have made of these impertinent imposters watching back home in Texas.

America's Simone Biles won beam bronze after being sidelined for most of the gymnastics competition. AFP
America’s Simone Biles won beam bronze after being sidelined for most of the gymnastics competition. AFP

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