We couldn’t end our Olympics coverage without mentioning these three under-the-radar moments that capture the true spirit of the games one last time.
U.S. Olympian Katie Ledecky poses with her Olympic Medals on the Citi Terrace of the USA House at Colegio Sao Paulo on August 13, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Joe Scarnici | Getty Images
We couldn’t be prouder of Team USA and their achievements in Rio. There have been some incredible performances of athleticism and sportsmanship that have showcased the dignity and dedication of so many American athletes. And while the wins and the medals are indeed honorable, these three moments show that even gold-medal winning athletes can warm our hearts both on and off the playing field (or pool, track, beam, you name it!).
From one world record breaker to another
World record holder Katie Ledecky, who swam an incredible 8-minute, 4.79 second race in the women’s 800m and won four gold medals, obviously needs no swimming lessons—even from the likes of the one and only Michael Phelps. But she gladly accepted tips from the most decorated Olympic athlete of all-time on arranging her five hefty medals (four of them gold!) for a Sports Illustrated photoshoot.
During the shoot, which also included gymnast Simone Biles, Phelps instructed Ledecky on getting those coveted medals arranged just right for the camera, saying “I put them one-by-one, then tuck them behind,” as he organized the medals around Ledecky’s neck. “I’ve been here before, you’ll learn, don’t worry about it.”
Ledecky, though only 19, is a decorated and poised young athlete, and definitely someone to keep our eyes on as we wait for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. It’s not hard to imagine her following in Phelps’ iconic footsteps after the stunning performances she gave in Rio. Apparently, Michael Phelps thinks so too.
The “Final Five” have each other’s backs—even the clothing on them
The world was in awe as we watched Team USA’s gymnasts flip, tuck and twirl their way toward the gold. Between the team’s overall performance that earned them each a gold medal, and individual performances that earned them even more, the “Final Five” had an incredible showing at the games.
They also had a pretty great rapport with each other and their friendship obviously extended beyond the stadium. And not only do they enjoy hanging out, they also help each other out in the simplest of ways.
Laurie Hernandez, silver medalist at only 16, supported teammate Simone Biles in the most adorable way when she graciously took on the task of ironing her teammate’s closing ceremonies outfit. Biles, obviously grateful, showed her appreciation as she posted a photo to Snapchat of the Ralph Lauren-designed uniform being ironed by none other than Hernandez. We loved watching Team USA’s hard work pay off in the stadium, but we have to say, seeing their camaraderie and their obvious esprit de corps is pretty heartwarming too.
Like Father, Like Son
Matt Centrowitz, Sr., had a lot to be proud of on Saturday as he watched his son, Matt Centrowitz, Jr., run his way to victory in the 1,500m race. It was the first time an American has won the metric mile since 1908. The win was historic as well as meaningful for the Centrowitz family: Centrowitz, Sr., ran the race in the 1976 Olympics—but lost, so to watch his son earn the victory was an incredible moment.
Centrowitz, Jr., says his dad is a huge inspiration for him, and even has a tattoo on his chest that reads “Like Father, Like Son.” I felt my dad was a huge reason [for] my success,” Centrowitz said. “I wouldn’t be here without him, he brought me to the sport, whetted my appetite year in and year out.”
“Dad” Centrowitz went positively crazy with joy as his son crossed the finished line, and in fact the whole Centrowitz clan had an ecstatic celebration in the stands. As the gold medal-winner watched a video of his dad’s reaction to the win he exclaimed, “He looks like a kid!”
In a uniquely sweet twist, it seems as though Matt’s dad will be adding some ink to his body. The winning Olympian told People, “A couple of months ago, [my dad] said, ‘If you get a medal, I’ll get a tattoo as well. Depending on the color, the more say you’ll have.’ I’m thinking, ‘Like son, like father.’ “
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