Amidst all the adrenaline-fuelled drama that ensued winning a medal at the Rio Olympics, there have been moments of sheer hilarity, and some that bordered on the bizarre. With the stakes so high, one leap of faith is sometimes the difference between winning and losing, as Shaunae Miller proved.
There are the rest who emerge victorious by finding an abstract middle ground between eccentric and extraordinary. Of course, like any sport, consistency and perfection are the key here, and that abstract line could have not been drawn any better than the pint-sized American gymnast, Simone Biles. With four gold medals already in her kitty, the 19-year-old American is already on her way to etching her name in the pantheon of greats who revolutionised their respective disciplines.
With the smallest decimal points separating winners and losers, not everyone is fortunate with how events unfold at the biggest stage. French gymnast Samir Ait Said's leg snapped as he was landing. Armenian weightlifter Andranik Karapetyan, who was one of the favourites to win a medal in the 77 kg division, had a nightmarish hyperextension of his left elbow while performing the clean and jerk. It may have potentially ended his career.
David Katoatau's dance
In the 1968 Berlin Olympics, the "Black Power" salute by American athletes Tommy Smith and John Carlos on the podium took its roots from a human rights context. There was no podium, no medals, and not even close to what would qualify as a win but weightlifter David Katoatau, from the minuscule island of Kiribati, danced his way to create awareness about climate change.
Robel Kiros Habte – Body-shaming and the aftermath
Social media went berserk after a tubby Ethiopian swimmer, Robel Kiros Habte, stepped up to participate in the 100 m heats. The 24-year-old, quite disgracefully, was dubbed as the "whale" with a "dad bod" by body-shamers on social media. At the arena, there were sections who broke into ironic cheers; it didn't help that Habte finished a comfortable third in the three-man heat in the 100 m freestyle event.
There were Twitterattis who stood up for Habte too, slamming some of the vitriol that was spewed.
Michael Phelps's 'death stare'
The spotlight simply refused evade the legendary Phelps. First, it was the marks on his body, a result of cupping therapy that set tongues wagging. Here, the cameras had just panned into the dugout before the 200 m butterfly semi-final. Phelps sat in a corner, contemplating. Perhaps, he was wondering where he would hang all his gold medals after the games. Chad le Clos, the South African swimmer was doing his own pre-match routine: part-dancing, part shadow-boxing.
The camera pointed to the American, who, looking at his opponent twitched with a menacing look, now popularly known as the "death stare". This went on to become another running gag on social media, with memes popping up in droves. The 28-time medal winner cleared the air. He told Today, “I just had music going on in my head. I had thoughts going on in my head, spitting water a little bit all over the place, so I was in my own zone,”
Laurine van Riessen vs gravity
Dutch cyclist Laurine van Riessen left onlookers gasping for breath as she tried to avoid a nasty crash in the final lap of the women's keirin race by climbing on the advertising hoardings to stay on track. New Zealand’s Olivia Podmore, France’s Virginie Cueff and Spain’s Tania Calvo were already involved in a nasty crash seconds earlier. Van Riessen's daredevil act kept her in the race, where she finished fourth.
Shaunae Miller's leap of glory
Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas clinched the gold medal in the women's 400 m race, finishing just 0.07 seconds ahead of the United States' Allyson Felix, who was tipped to walk away with the gold. It was the manner in which she won the event – diving forward full length with her arms outstretched – that went on to be a subject of intense discussion.
The legitimacy of the act by Miller also came into question. She was quoted as saying by The Guardian, “I’ve never done it before. I have cuts and bruises, a few burns. It hurts,”
Hello, Mr Enzo Lefort! It's the Olympics calling
In what could easily win the award for the most embarrassing moment of the Summer Games, France's foil fencer Enzo Lefort 's phone popped out his pocket as he was trying to defend during his bout against Germany's Peter Joppich. Lefort, who won a silver medal, casually picked the phone up and handed it to an official on the sidelines.
The Brazilian public didn't take it too kindly, booing Lefort when he bent down to grab his phone.
Lefort saw the funny side of it too, tweeting about the turn of events:
The new age protest
Mongolian wrestler Ganzorigiin Mandakhnaran lost his quarter-final bout to Uzbekistan’s Ikhtiyor Navruzo after the judges awarded a penalty point at the end of the match. In what was an unexpected turn of events, Mandakhnaran's coaches, Tserenbaatar Tsogtbayar and Byambarenchin Bayaraa, took off their clothes in protest.
Twitter did not let the incident go lightly: