With everything moving so fast these days thanks to the help of social media, moments become viral more quickly than ever. For athletes, this is especially true since they’re already in the spotlight so often showcasing their incredible talents. Then, you factor in the Olympics which features the most exceptional athletes across the globe. You might see decades-long world records broken or a tragic loss from a champion. From heartbreaking to phenomenal, these are the Olympic moments that left folks in awe.
This Olympic athlete made meme history during the 2012 Summer Olympics. Her name is McKayla Rose Maroney and she was apart of the Fierce Five team that featured Gabby Douglas. The former gold medal winner ended up retiring in 2016.
Despite the early retirement, people from around the world still talk her up as if what she did took place yesterday. It’s quite astounding. We’ll recap you on the most famous moments that made her a global icon!
McKayla Is Underwhelmed
Naturally, everyone who tuned in for the Olympics praised Maroney for her incredible physical accomplishments. However, it wasn’t her dynamic flips and balance that sent everyone into a frenzy. It was a subtle moment at the Olympics that made the internet catch fire.
During the competition, Maroney failed to stick her vault landing which caused her to take home the silver medal, not gold. Photographers captured the face you see above and it became the “McKayla is Not Impressed” meme.
Many couldn’t keep quiet about the Final Five American gymnastics team, both before and after the 2016 Olympics. Phenom Simone Biles made quite the impression while apart of the team. There wasn’t anything she didn’t excel at.
Biles competed in all-around, vault, and floor while grabbing gold in all three. The American made history as the most decorated gymnast in American history. She has 19 Olympic and World Championship medals. There was one moment from Biles that stood out and grabbed everyone’s attention…
Naming Her Move
Doing vaults and flips is one of the most impressive acts during the Olympics. You’re only in the air for so long, so it limits what can get done. Biles pulled off a trick that had the world amazed, however.
The gymnast did two laid-out backflips and added a half twist to the end. Right when she pulled off a flawless landing, amazement filled the air. The move was rightfully dubbed “The Biles.” Many memes had her flipping to the moon and back.
Sticking Up For Herself
Biles’ immense talent earned her a spot on the show Dancing with the Stars. You would expect a gold medalist to heap plenty of positive reviews, but that wasn’t the case with a few of the judges. Some said her routines lacked emotion. When the nice comments came around, Biles was not full of smiles.
The host asked why Biles didn’t smile towards the more positive responses and she said, “Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals.” That comeback went viral and people applauded her for standing up to negativity.
This next athlete gave people many reasons to talk about her. Could all be because of a dance?…
Michelle Jenneke Becomes A Hit
Before the 2012 World Junior Championships happened, the world didn’t know who Michelle Jenneke was. She was just another hurdler from Kenthurst, Australia. She’d competed in big events in the past but hadn’t made a name for herself yet.
She finished third at the 89th Australian Athletics Championships behind the world champion Sally Pearson and people began to notice her a bit. However, it wouldn’t be until later that she became something the world would remember.
The Warm Up
Before a big race, Jenneke was standing behind the start line like the rest of the athletes. As everyone did their pre-race warm up, Jenneke stood out from the rest and did something that would change her life forever. Someone caught it all on camera, but what was it?
Instead of a traditional stretch, Jenneke pulled off some slick dance moves! She even posed for the camera as it panned over to her. She became famous for cute confidence and athletic prowess. The clip the person uploaded of Jenneke’s pre-race warm-up amassed 19 million views in one week!
New Career Ventures
After gaining a global buzz thanks to a simple warm up, an unprecedented offer from Sports Illustrated came around. They wanted Jenneke to model for their yearly Swimsuit Issue! She probably wouldn’t have imagined a door like that would open just for moving her hips.
While this was going on, the crew complimented Jenneke on her natural modeling skills. And she couldn’t leave without showing her the famous routine! Sadly, Jenneke didn’t do so well in the opening rounds of the Olympic Games. The hype behind her didn’t match her performance on the track.
Up next is someone who was an instant sensation!
The Highly Talented, Gabby Douglas!
You’ll remember this familiar face from the 2012 London Olympics. Gabby Douglas was apart of the Fierce Five that featured another previously mentioned gymnast on this list. Douglas was a great story not only in London but also in Rio where she was a member of the Final Five.
She made history at both of those Olympic Games, but what did she do that made her so memorable? What set her apart from other gymnasts in history?
Breaking The Records
Probably, the most impressive thing about Douglas’ Olympic runs is all the records she broke. She was the first African American in Olympic history to win individual all-around. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Douglas also became the first to get awarded the gold medal in both the individual and team at the Olympic games. Her skills didn’t have a ceiling as she was flipping and twirling like no one else ever had before.
More Big Things
Showcasing her talent and groundbreaking moments awarded Douglas many more opportunities in her life. After the Olympics, Lifetime turned her life into a biographical film titled The Gabby Douglas Story.
No big deal, that’s just one of the biggest networks acknowledging how awesome she was. On top of that, Douglas also got her own reality TV show called Douglas Family Gold. From sticking landings to sticking to the script, Douglas earned it all.
Kerri Strug Overcomes
You might not remember her name right away, but you more than likely remember the iconic photos attached to her story at the 1996 Olympics. Kerri Strug had loads of pressure on her going into the final rotation as part of America’s Magnificent Seven.
The team only had a 0.897 lead over the Russians. Her teammates all messed up their routines, including falling twice, so it all came down to Strug. She was the last to perform.
History In The Making
All eyes were on Strug as she started her routine. Unfortunately, Strug took a hard fall on her first landing and hurt her ankle. The judges gave her a 9.162 for her act. That’s when she looked to her coach and asked if she needed to go again.
He told her, “Kerri, we need you to go one more time. We need you one more time for the gold. You can do it, you better do it.” That’s when she landed her second attempt perfectly despite the badly hurt ankle! Her coach needed to pick her up and carry her to the podium, however.
Hello, Shaunae Miller
During the 2016 Rio games, Olympic athlete Shaunae Miller made history and boosted her fame well beyond her home of the Bahamas. She took home the gold in the 400-meter race against crazy tough competition.
However, her winning wasn’t what brought all the attention to her name. The focus was on how she won the race. She did something you might only see at the climax of dramatic sports biopic films. Wait until you see what she pulled off…
Go For Gold!
This was maybe the most dramatic victories throughout all the Rio races. Miller ended up diving for the finish line! Many thought this was a dirty move, but she didn’t do it on purpose. Her legs had locked up right towards the end so she only had one option left and it was to fall.
She beat the world champion Allyson Felix in the process. Her time was 49.44 seconds which is blazing fast for the 400 meter race.
After The Dive
After she took the world by storm by diving for it all, she didn’t stop there. Things kept on rolling for the Olympic champion. A year later, she ended up breaking Allyson Felix’s 200-meter world record with a time of 21.76 seconds.
Miller then won bronze at the 2017 World Championships. The year was going perfectly. She topped it off by marrying her college sweetheart. The gold medal brought forth some extra love into her life.
Up next is another record breaker but by way of water…
Breaking Records In The Pool
Her name is Natalie Coughlin and she made history for America. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Coughlin did something no other American had ever done. She became the first to win six medals during the Olympic Games.
On top of that, she also became the first woman to win two back-to-back golds for the 100-meter backstroke. As a follow-up, she won bronze at the 2012 games. Overall, Coughlin has 12 medals she’s won at the Olympics.
Leading up to the 2008 Olympics, Usain Bolt was relatively still up-and-coming. But after the 100-meter final, he became a global phenom. Not only did Bolt win the race that decides who’s the fastest man in the world, but he did it with ease while setting a new world record.
With 20 meters left in the race, it was like Bolt realized what he had done and he began celebrating early. Meanwhile, his competitors were struggling to finish.
Winning In Her Home Country
For the games in Rio back in 2016, athlete Rafaela Silva made her country proud. She competes in judo and ended up keeping the gold in Rio. That wasn’t the biggest deal, of course.
Silva became a hero! The gold she won was the first for Brazil and she did all of this at the young age of 24! There’s no telling what else she has in store for the future, but one could only imagine…
Just Following Her Dreams
Growing up in the slums isn’t a walk in the park. Silvia’s childhood took place in the City of God, which is a notoriously harsh city. Not only did she win for herself, but she also won for her community.
Silvia said, “I’ve always insisted on pursuing my dreams. If I can set an example to the kids in the City of God, it’s to follow theirs.” We hope she inspired the next generation of Brazilian athletes to follow their dreams.