Since ancient Greece, people have looked forward to the Olympics. It’s that one time every four years where you get to see all kinds of different people compete in sports you didn’t even know existed. And every four years, it’s a huge source of entertainment and powerful images. The joy of a gold medalist winner goes hand in hand with the disappointment of the athlete that ended in fourth place, not getting to bring home a medal to show for his efforts.
Egyptian vs. German team, women’s beach volley, 2016
Already probably one of the most powerful images in the 2016 Olympics, this shows the Egyptian beach volley team in full hidjab. Whether you consider this a positive image of cultural differences or a negative one that illustrates repression against women – it’s an image that sparks a debate.
Black Power Salute, 1968
In the 200-meter race, two African-American athletes, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, wore black gloves and made a gesture to mimic the Black Power salute. This statement against black repression in America actually got them kicked out of the games by the IOC.
Greg Louganis head bump, 1988
After his 1984 win, Greg Louganis came back in 1988 to solidify his position as best diver to have ever existed. In the preliminaries, he hit his head on the board. Everyone thought it was over, but he went on to win the gold medal – by a huge margin. Top class athlete.
Janos Baranyai injury, 2008
You know what happens when you try to lift almost twice your body weight and your right arm gives out? Well, Janos Baranyai knows. He ripped apart his ligaments and muscle, but thankfully made a full recovery. This is why I don’t lift heavy things.
Michael Phelps’ medal streak, 2008
Since Michael Phelps didn’t feel like sharing, he took home eight gold medals in the Beijing Olympics. That’s more medals for one man than some countries have in the entire Olympics.
Refugee Team, 2016
This year’s Olympics has a 10-man refugee team, hailing from South Sudan, Syria, Congo and Ethiopia. Because of this, even people that feel like they don’t have a country to call their home can compete in the games.
1.00 out of 10, 1976
In 1976, Nadia Comaneci became the first ever to score a perfect 10 in the gymnastics event. The scoreboard, however, didn’t know the number “10” existed, so Nadia’s score registered as 1.00 – turns out 9.99 was the maximum the scoreboard could handle. She won three gold medals total in 1976.
Korean unification flag, 2000
In 2000, the North and South Korea delegation arrived with a unified flag and matching uniforms. The flag was held by one athlete of each country, and it was a powerful symbol for peace.
Touchung selfie of the North And South Korean Olympic gymnasts, 2016
BTW. This year two young gymnasts, Lee Eun-Ju from South Korea and Hong Un Jong from North Korea, were captured taking a selfie together. This touching moment melted the heart of millions.
Samir Ait leg injury, 2016
This year’s Olympics has had a host of horrible injuries, with this one probably being the worst (so far). French Gymnast Samir Ait cracked his leg right below the knee. He’s had surgery and has already announced that he’ll be training for the 2020 Olympics.
Jesse Owens, 1936
Imagine being a black man during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Now imagine winning four gold medals in the capitol of the civilization that would consider you a “lesser” man because of the color of your skin. Because that’s what Jesse Owens did, and he did it with conviction.
Derek Redmond’s hamstring, 1992
During a semi-final race in the 400 metres, Derek tore his hamstring. He refused to give up and kept on running, biting through the pain. After a while, his father couldn’t handle it anymore and left over the railing to help his son reach the finish line. That’s a gold medal for parenting, right there.
Abebe Bikila, 1960
You leave for a marathon run tomorrow, what do you pack? Water, check. Clothing, check. Protein bars for your post-workout, check. Shoes? Nah. Ethiopian Abebe Bikila ran his marathon barefoot. And oh, he won the gold medal. Because if you’re going to be a badass, you might as well go all the way. He also won the gold medal four years later – with sneakers on.
The most useless job in the world, 2016
Maybe it’s not one of the most powerful Olympics images, but it’s one of the funniest for sure. Next time when you feel that your job is useless, just remember that someone has to be a lifeguard at the Olympics swimming event.