Goodbye, for now! The 2016 Rio Olympics ended on Sunday, August 21, just the way they began — with a bang. Athletes from across the world gathered for the closing ceremony, wearing their new medals and waving their countries’ flags proudly.
From Michael Phelps’ final race to Ryan Lochte’s robbery controversy, look back at the 10 biggest moments from the Games:
1. Phelps Makes History and Announces His Retirement
What a career! Phelps won his 23rd career gold medal (28th total) in his final race during the men’s 4x100m relay on Saturday, August 13. Two days later, he officially announced that he was retiring — again. “Done, done, done — and this time I mean it. I wanted to come back and finish my career how I wanted, and this was the cherry on top of the cake,” Phelps told the Today show’s Matt Lauer. “I’m done. I’m finished. I’m retired. I’m done. No more.”
Phelps was supported by his fiancée, Nicole Johnson, and their 3-month-old son, Boomer, in Rio de Janeiro. Boomer often stole the spotlight while watching from the crowd and for his adorable patriotic-themed outfits.
2. Lochte Gets Caught in Gas Station Controversy
Phelps’ teammate alleged that he was robbed by gunpoint at a gas station with fellow swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen. Brazilian officials found no evidence that the incident occurred and announced in a press conference that the men had vandalized the property.
Lochte apologized in an Instagram post and backtracked during an interview with Lauer. “I overexaggerated that part. The gun was drawn, but it wasn’t at my forehead. … I’m not making me being intoxicated, like, an excuse. I’m not doing that at all. It was my fault, and I shouldn’t have said that,” he said in a clip that aired Saturday, August 20. “It’s how you want to make it look like. Whether you call it a robbery, whether you call it extortion, or us paying just for the damages, like, we don’t know. All we know is that there was a gun pointed in our direction, and we were demanded to give the money. I’m just really sorry and I hope [the people of Rio] can accept my apology.”
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) August 16, 2016
3. Simone Biles Becomes America’s Sweetheart
What a ride! The U.S. gymnast won four gold medals during her first Olympics. To add to the excitement, the Today show surprised her with a meet and greet with her celebrity crush Zac Efron. “If you bring him out, I think I’m gonna pass out!” Biles told Today’s Hoda Kotb on Tuesday, August 16.
Even Efron was nervous about the introduction. “They won gold medals, they were crushing it the entire Olympics, and I was like hiding in a closet waiting to come in, so I didn’t know what to think. I kind of was getting nervous myself, but it ended up being so sweet,” the actor said. “Their story just blew my mind. When I found out Simone and this team were fans, I was like, ‘What kind of guy am I if I don’t show up?'”
4. Allyson Felix Wins Gold After Baton Flub
Nothing can stop her! Felix and her U.S. teammates initially didn’t qualify in the 4×100 because Felix dropped the baton when a Brazilian competitor knocked into her. After the USOC filed a petition to protest, the team got to compete in the finals and won first place.
Felix also took home a silver medal for the women’s 400m race. At the last second, Bahamas athlete Shaunae Miller dove over the finish line to beat her. “I think I’ll have to look back at that, it’s a little bittersweet now. I’m a competitor and I went for it, I think in the moment it’s just painful,” Felix told Us Weekly and other reporters afterward. “I think I have to look back at the race, but I think I kind of should have been a bit more aggressive, I might have let it get a little bit away from me.”
5. Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross Win Bronze Medal
They’ll take it! Jennings and Ross didn’t win gold, but they did take home a medal. The beach volleyball teammates beat Brazil’s Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca with a score of 17-21, 21-17, 15-9.
“I don’t know what Kerri is going to do yet, she’s going to take time and figure it out, and I’ll wait until she does that,” Ross told Us of her future plans on August 19, while promoting the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist. “But my goal now is Tokyo for sure.”
6. Katie Ledecky Is Not Human
The Washington, D.C., native dominated in every swimming race she took part in, at times nearly lapping her opponents. She won four gold medals while competing in the 200m, 4×200, 800m and 400m freestyles.
“It’s been a lot of fun and I’m just so happy with how the whole team has been doing and to be a small part of that has been amazing and it’s just … We’re all feeding off of each other’s energy,” Ledecky told Us and other reporters following her 800m race on August 12.
During the Games, a photo of Ledecky at age 9 receiving an autograph from Phelps resurfaced. “We’ve always looked up to him, and I think his impact will continue to live on for many years to come,” she added. “Some people have asked like how do I carry the torch now, that he’s leaving, but I think that you’ve seen it this week with our team, how collectively we’re going to try that torch and do our best to USA Swimming the way he has for so many years.”
7. Tonga Shirtless Flag Bearer Goes Viral
Remember him? Pita Nikolas Taufatofua turned heads when he walked out shirtless and all oiled up during the opening ceremony on August 5. He later explained his outfit — or lack thereof — in a Facebook post.
“Coconut oil is an integral part of indigenous Oceanian body adornment,” he wrote. “Typically performers apply copious amounts of coconut oils on their body as a celebration of the symmetry of the human body as well as a mark of ancestral identity.” He later returned for the closing ceremony.
Lilly King doesn’t hold back.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 8, 2016
8. Lilly King’s Wagging Finger Goes Viral
Don’t mess! The U.S. swimmer called out Russia’s Yulia Efimova for being banned twice for doping. At one point, she shook her finger while watching Efimova on TV. “You know, you’re shaking your finger No. 1, and you’ve been caught for drug cheating,” King explained of her actions to NBC. “I’m just not, you know, not a fan.”
Efimova later responded to the hate. “I understand the people who didn’t congratulate me, because the media was full of fake stories about me. But on the other hand, I don’t really understand the foreign competitors,” she said, via The Guardian. “All athletes should be above politics, but they just watch TV and believe everything they read. I always thought the Cold War was long in the past. Why start it again, by using sport?”
9. Olympic Runners Crash Into Each Other on the Track
Good sportsmanship. USA runner Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin helped each other up after colliding during the first round of the women’s 5,000m race. “Get up, get up! We have to finish! This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this,” D’Agostino said at the time, via ESPN. D’Agostino hurt her knee, but the two eventually made it to the finish line and hugged.
“I’m so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there. I’ve never met her before. I’ve never met this girl before, and isn’t that just so amazing?” Hamblin later said, per the Los Angeles Times. “Regardless of the race and the result on the board, that’s a moment that you’re never, ever going to forget for the rest of your life, that girl shaking my shoulder like, ‘Come on, get up.'”
10. Usain Bolt Bolts His Way to Victory
The Jamaican star, now the most decorated Olympic sprinter in history, won three gold medals during the Rio Games.
“My favorite thing about running is that I’m able to travel the world to compete,” Bolt told Us exclusively in his “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me” feature. “The best part of being the fastest man ever is that I say I’m faster than everyone alive and there’s no disputing that.”
His personal life also gained attention. On Sunday, August 21, photos of Bolt reportedly partying with a young Brazilian student named Jady Duarte were published in several Brazil magazines. Bolt has been dating his girlfriend, Kasi Bennett, for two years.
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