When it comes to athletic achievements and characters, nothing beats the grand stage of the Olympics. The ancient Greek games have evolved and brought forward many inspiring Olympic moments to cherish for sports lovers and fans.
But what were the moments that showed character beyond the ordinary?
Since its Olympics year in 2021, we look back at some of the most historic inspiring Olympic moments that gave spectators a hair-raising experience.
1. Jesse Owens and the 1936 Olympics
The 1936 Berlin Olympics was conducted under Nazi rule in Germany. It was at the height of tensions between the allied powers and Nazi Germany.
Hitler propagated the racial superiority of Germans and was willing to show the world their distinction through the games. However, fate had other plans.
African-American athlete Jesse Owens was among the US Olympics squad and initially set to participate in 3 different events. He won the 100m, 200m, and Long Jump gold medals with ease and was even congratulated by his German opponent in the jump event.
Later, Owens was also inducted into the 4x100m relay team and replaced his Jewish teammates. At this event, too, Owen scored the gold medal. As the most successful athlete in the 1936 games, he crushed the Aryan supremacy theory in front of Adolf Hitler himself when the whole world was watching.
Watch his legendary performance here:
2. Karelin vs. Gardner (2000 Olympics)
The Russian Bear Aleksandr Karelin was the most dominant force in Greco-Roman wrestling and all set to win his fourth consecutive gold in the same event. His overall wrestling record boasted 887 wins and one loss at the time (by only one point).
Compared to him, American Rulon Gardner did not have the pedigree or experience to beat the King. But in a twist of fate and one of the most inspiring Olympic moments ever, Gardner defeated the legendary wrestler in a massive upset and one of the biggest underdog moments in Olympic history.
Watch the bout here:
3. Joannie Rochette (2010 Winter Olympics)
While being a sportsperson seems all shiny and fun from the outside, it is very few times that their real struggles come to life.
During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette was prepared to give her best at her event. However, things took a tragic turn when she lost her mother a few minutes before her event.
Nevertheless, Joannie Rochette tried coping with her immense loss by performing and won a Bronze in one of the most hair-raising experiences. She even dedicated her win to her mother.
You can watch her story here:
4. Eric Moussambani (2000 Olympics)
Eric, “The Eel” Moussambani, was a wildcard entry for the 100m freestyle swimming event from Equatorial Guinea.
Moussambani was part of a program in the Olympics that included developing countries that lack quality sports infrastructure to give them world-class exposure. He had taken up swimming only a few months ahead of his appearance in the Olympics. He learned the sport with help from fishers while practicing in the river, sea, and a private swimming pool.
However, once Eric took the plunge into the water, he wowed the audience with his sheer determination to finish the course, creating one of the most inspiring Olympic moments ever. He might not have placed in the event at all, but he had won everyone over with his grit.
You can watch his story here:
5. Jonny Moseley (1998 Winter Olympics)
Jonny Moseley was just 23 years old when he took the slopes of the 1998 Men’s Mogul event by storm. The young skier attempted the herculean 360-degree-mute-grab on one of the bumpiest terrains in Olympic history.
The move brought him to the highest podium of the event. His audaciousness captured everyone’s imagination, making him an instant Olympic hero.
You can watch one of the most inspiring Olympic moments here:
6. Shaun White (2010 Winter Olympics)
When Shaun White took his final run at the Men’s Snowboarding Half-Pipe, he had already secured the gold medal for himself. However, like any other legendary athlete, White was far from done showing his immense skill on the board.
His final take on the event shocked the world when he landed a Double McTwist 1260, a move he liked to call the Tomahawk. It was a historical instance in the sport and arguably one of the most inspiring Olympic moments ever witnessed.
You can take a look at his daring final move here:
7. Dan Jansen (1994 Winter Olympics)
Good things come to those who do not give up, and speed skater Dan Jansen’s story is a testimony to that. Jansen fought against an Olympic jinx after falling short of gold in his previous outings in Sarajevo, Calgary, and Albertville.
His performance in Calgary was further dampened when the Olympian raced just after finding out about his sister’s death. But Jansen’s will was too strong to be curbed, and he finally reached his goal in Lillehammer (1994). The ecstatic speedskater dedicated his historic win to Jane, his late sister.
Watch him conquer gold in one of the most inspiring Olympic moments here:
8. Korean Unification Flag (2000 Olympics)
Decades of unrest followed the post-Korean War between the North and the South. Nevertheless, the 2000 Olympics was an olive branch moment when the two countries marched in the opening ceremony under a unified flag.
Even though they competed separately, this act was one of the most inspiring Olympic moments of peace and brotherhood ever witnessed.
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