Year in Review 2016: Rio Olympics' 10 top moments that will be etched in people's memory

The Olympics is arguably the biggest sporting stage, offering athletes a chance to showcase their wares for the world to see. The Olympics are also a celebration of passion, will and fortitude, of the triumph of humankind over all odds. The Rio Olympics was no different and had its share of stories and moments that will endure for generations. Here's a recollection of some of the top moments from Rio 2016:

Refugee Olympic team

 Year in Review 2016: Rio Olympics 10 top moments that will be etched in peoples memory

The Refugee Olympic Athletes' team arrives for the opening ceremony. REUTERS

A major highlight of the 2016 Rio Olympics was the Refugee Olympic Team, which represented the people fleeing their homes from around the world. In a year that refugees and people feeling from war-ravaged zones were subjected to widespread suspicion and persecution, this team was an embodiment of the Olympics motto of 'Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger). The 10-member team may not have won any medals, but their very presence at the Games was a symbol of hope. They featured some athletes who went on to become icons in their own right – Congo's Popole Misenga who won over the judo arena by making the second round where it took a world champion to beat him; Yusra Mardini, a teenage swimmer from Syria who braved a Mediterranean crossing and helped drag the dinghy to safety for three hours, and compatriot Rami Anis who fled the war-ravaged nation in 2011 to avoid being enlisted into the army. It is these stories of sport triumphing all odds that makes them stand out among the medals and records of Rio 2016. – Zenia D'Cunha

Fiji winning rugby gold

2016 Rio Olympics - Rugby -  Men's Victory Ceremony  - Deodoro Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 11/08/2016. Team Fiji pose for photos with their gold medals. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRAZIL  - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS SPORT RUGBY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.

Team Fiji pose for photos with their gold medals. REUTERS

Imagine waiting anxiously for more than half a century for your country’s maiden Olympic medal, only for it to finally be won in the most popular sport of the country, that too a gold. That was the story of the Fiji Rugby Sevens side, the most revered team in the South Pacific nation of 9,00,000, that beat all odds in the Rio Olympics to clinch their country’s first-ever medal, thrashing former colonisers Great Britain 43-7 in the summit clash to send their fans back home into a state of frenzy. They beat some of the stronger sides such as the All Blacks Sevens (New Zealand) along the way to ultimately pull off one of the greatest heists in the sports history. Such was the fervour back home that a public holiday was declared as part of the celebrations, with the team getting welcomed like heroes. – Amit Banerjee

India at the Olympics

Dec 23, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;  Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) controls the ball as Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) defends during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports - RTX2WCKQ

File photos of Dipa Karmakar, PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik. Agencies 

The biggest moments for India in the quadrennial mega event came late and from completely unexpected quarters. When the nation had almost given up hope for a medal, Sakshi Malik won the bronze in a dramatic wrestling bout in the 58kg category. It ended India's agonising 11-day wait for a medal. PV Sindhu then sent the country into delirium with a silver medal in badminton. The nation started to believe once Sindhu pipped the highly fancied Wang Yihan in the quarterfinal and breezed through in the semis. Her final against Carolina Marin held the country in thrall and her silver put a balm on the disappointment of seeing top medal hope Saina Nehwal's campaign getting derailed due to injury. Before that though, gymnast Dipa Karmakar vaulted her way into the hearts of the Indians. She had narrowly missed a medal, but her execution of the 'death vault' Produnova left everyone awe-struck. Lalita Babar in steeplechase and Aditi Ashok in golf put up strong performances too. Women athletes saved India the blushes at Rio – the biggest takeaway for India from the Olympics. However, there were controversies too, the biggest of them being wrestler Narsingh Yadav getting banned for doping, and marathoner OP Jaisha fainting after reaching the finish line and later complaining that she was not given water and energy drinks by Indian officials. – Debdutta Bhattacharjee

Usain Bolt's triple triple

Usain Bolt of Jamaica turns to look at Andre De Grasse of Canada as they compete in the Men's 100m Semifinals at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Reuters

Usain Bolt of Jamaica turns to look at Andre De Grasse of Canada as they compete in the Men's 100m Semifinals at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Reuters

Usain bolt, the greatest sprinter of all time and arguably the greatest Olympian ever, signed off in the perfect fashion. He blasted his way through the sprints, and stood out as the only man among the boys (who, by the way, are all world class sprinters) and secured a triple-triple of gold medals, taking his tally to a staggering nine gold medals in three consecutive Olympics. His 2016 campaign gave many memorable moments but Bolt produced what is sure to be one of the most iconic photos in sporting history during his 100m semi-final victory. With the race already won, Bolt cheekily turned and smiled for the cameras, thus forever preserving his superiority over his competitors. – Nitish Rampal

Joseph 'Schooling' Phelps

Singapore's Joseph Schooling (R) being congratulated by his 'idol' Michael Phelps after winning gold at the Rio Olympics. Reuters

Singapore's Joseph Schooling (R) being congratulated by his 'idol' Michael Phelps after winning gold at the Rio Olympics. Reuters

Twenty one-year-old Joseph Schooling set the world alight when he delivered Singapore its first ever Olympic gold medal, and he did so in the most unfathomable way. Schooling denied Michael Phelps his 24th Olympic gold by beating him in the 100m Butterfly final, setting an Olympic record in the process. The win came eight years after a 13-year-old Schooling met his ‘idol’ Phelps when the superstar visited Singapore as part of his 2008 Beijing Olympics preparations. The Singaporean’s next aim is to shatter the world record currently held by Phelps, and after his performance at Rio, he’s definitely amongst the frontrunners for that honour. – Derrek Chundelikkatt

Brazil wins football gold

Neymar Jr. Getty

File photo of Neymar Jr. Getty

In 2014, an injured Neymar missed Brazil's World Cup semi-final against Germany, a match the hosts went on to lose 7-1. Two years later, he scored the winning penalty as the Selecao clinched their first ever Olympic gold medal in football, defeating Germany on penalties, capping off one of the greatest stories of the Rio Olympics. Hosts Brazil had surpassed everybody's expectations by winning a glut of medals at Rio 2016, but for the football-mad country, there was only one that would truly matter. If Neymar and Co failed to win a football gold, the other 18 medals the country had won at their home Olympics would count for little. Thankfully for 200 million Brazilians, it wasn't to be  – Aashray Hariharan

Sprinters touch hearts with exemplary sportsman spirit

2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Preliminary - Women's 5000m Round 1 - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 16/08/2016. Nikki Hamblin (NZL) of New Zealand stops to help Abbey D'Agostino (USA) of USA.     REUTERS/Dylan Martinez   FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.

Nikki Hamblin (NZL) of New Zealand stops to help Abbey D'Agostino (USA) of USA. REUTERS

One of the most heart-warming moments of the Rio Olympics came during the women's 5,000m Heats. New Zealand's Nikki Hamblin had an unfortunate fall during the race that led to a collision with Abbey D'Agostino of the US, who was running right behind her. What followed went down as the most touching moment of the Games. D'Agostino, concerned seeing her fellow sprinter lying on the track, waited, lifted her up and resumed the race. Later, she felt the after effects of the clash and collapsed holding her knee. She had ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament. Then, Hamblin returned the favour by stopping in her tracks and comforting the troubled D'Agostino. The US athlete fought the pain and completed her Heat, before being welcomed by Hamblin at the finish line with a warm hug. Both the sprinters were awarded places in the final, but D'Agostino couldn't participate due to her injury. That piece of sportsmanship highlighted the spirit of the Olympic Games and showed by it's not always about winning – Kaushal Shukla

Monica Puig becomes first Puerto Rican woman to win an Olympic medal

Tennis - Pan Pacific Open Women's Singles Quarterfinal match - Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, Japan - 23/09/16.  Monica Puig of Puerto Rico reacts after losing a point by Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.   REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Monica Puig of Puerto Rico reacts after losing a point. REUTERS

Monica Puig earned herself a place in Puerto Rico's history when she became the island's first woman to win an Olympic medal. Puig won the women's tennis tournament at the 2016 Summer Olympics. It is Puerto Rico's first gold medal in 68 years of competition. She beat second-seeded Angelique Kerber in three sets (6-4, 4-6, 6-1) to secure one of the most precious moments in Puerto Rico's history – Kaushal Shukla

Mo Farah keeps his Rio dream alive

2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Victory Ceremony - Men's 5000m Victory Ceremony - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 20/08/2016. Gold medalist Mo Farah (GBR) of Britain reacts. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.

Gold medalist Mo Farah (GBR) of Britain reacts. REUTERS

British long distance runner Mo Farah went into the 2016 Rio Olympics with high expectations. After winning gold in both the 5,000m and 10,000m finals in the London Olympics, Farah’s Rio dreams seemed to be dashed when he tripped around half-way into the 10,000m final. Despite seemingly losing all the progress he had made thus far, the Briton showed true Olympic spirit, and carried on. He then displayed a burst of acceleration during the final portion of the race to emerge victorious in spectacular fashion. Farah’s success in the face of adversity serves as a shining example for young athletes who train for years to achieve their dream, and makes him stand out as a truly great Olympian – Derrek Chundelikkatt

Katie Ledecky in a league of her own

2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Victory Ceremony - Women's 800m Freestyle Victory Ceremony - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Katie Ledecky (USA) of USA poses with her gold medal on the podium.   REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.

Katie Ledecky (USA) of USA poses with her gold medal on the podium. REUTERS

In Olympics, milliseconds often decide gold medals. The competition is cut-throat, as you are up against the very best in the world. But even in this elite competition, some athletes rise above to compete in a league of their own. Katie Ledecky is one such athlete. By the time the 19-year-old swimmer reached the end stages of her 800m freestyle individual event at the Rio Olympics, she had established a lead of close to 12 seconds over the next competitor. At that point, it was clear that Ledecky was in a race against herself. She beat her own time, set a new world record and won her fifth Olympic gold, all as a teenager. She currently holds world records in the women's 400m, 800m, and 1,500m freestyle categories. She is running out of records to break and given her age, perhaps she is the answer to 'what after Michael Phelps'. – Nitish Rampal

Updated Date: Dec 25, 2016 15:58:27 IST