21 unforgettable Olympics moments – tears, history and incredible Team GB golds

Despite all the doubts and delays, Tokyo 2020 proved to be well worth the wait.

The Greatest Show on Earth produced the agony and ecstasy of great sporting moments – and another bumper crop of medals for Team GB, our second most successful Games abroad after the record 67 won at Rio 2016.

Here, we look at our favourite moments of the past 16 days…

1. The Opening ceremony: After eight years in the planning, Tokyo 2020 chiefs still faced endless questions about whether they should take place at all. The opening ceremony was an answer to all that, a stunning show of fireworks, artistry and light, and an emotional tribute to millions of victims of Covid.

The beautiful illuminated dome globe hovered above the near-empty 68,000-seater stadium as John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ played.

2 The Kennys: Jason and Laura Kenny, aka Mr and Mrs Medals, produced yet another epic performance to be crowned our most successful Olympians of all-time. Jason, 33, claimed his title with yet another gold yesterday.

Mr and Mrs Medals, aka the Kennys


Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)

Laura, 29, held her fist aloft in triumph to celebrate her Gold in the Madison event with Katie Marchant – then wept as she admitted that she was missing her son Albie, three.

Laura also became the first woman in history to take gold in three consecutive Games. There are calls for Laura to be made a Dame – and for Jason to be made a Sir.

3 . Adam Peaty became the first Brit ever to retain an Olympic title with victory in the 100m breaststroke, and launched Team GB’s medal charge on the first ‘Super Saturday’.

The image of him punching the water as he clocked the fifth fastest time ever recorded will live long in the memory.

4 . Tom Daley’s 20-year wait for an Olympic title ended in the synchronised 10m platform with Matty Lee, 23, who had his picture taken alongside his ‘hero’ when he was 10.

Tom Daley and Matty Lee congratulate each other when they realise they’d won the synchro diving gold medal


Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)

They edged out reigning champions China for victory, 13 years after Daley – a two-time bronze medallist – made his Olympic debut in Beijing as a 14-year-old. He dedicated gold to his late father Rob, who died aged 40 when Tom was just 17.

Tom added a bronze in the individual 10m platform – the first British diver in history to earn four Olympic medals.

He also became known for knitting his way trhough the Olympics, even making a Team GB cardigan.

5 . Britain’s first double Olympic swim champion in 113 years was thinking of the love and devotion of his mum when he fought back tears on the medal podium.

Tom Dean, 21, thought back to ‘10 years of early mornings’ as he looked up at the Union flag being raised. The video of his mum Jacquie Hughes and the family’s celebrations in the back garden of his home in Maidenhead, Berks, went viral.

6. James Guy could not hold back the tears as he won his first ever Gold in the 4x200m freestyle, weeping at the finishing line as his team mates jumped around by his side.

Adam Peaty and James Guy react after winning gold


Getty Images)

He then helped the medley relay team to an Olympic title in a World Record time. He said: “As a kid winning an Olympic gold medal was my absolute dream. To do it after 25 years is pretty emotional.”

7 . At just 19, Keely Hodgkinson stole the show as she took our first athletics medal with a storming finish to the 800m.

Breaking down at the end of her race, she dedicated the silver to her family back in Wigan – parents Rachel and Dean, and siblings Tilly, Jessica and brother Sam. “This is not my medal, it is our medal,” she said. She showed off her ‘lucky’ spikes, signed by friends with Japanese symbols, and Man Utd Red Devils.

8 . Swim legend Caeleb Dressel bagged five gold medals to be hailed as the new Michael Phelps by Team USA.

But he was candid about the incredible pressures he faced: “The pressure at the biggest moment of your life boils down to those 40 seconds or 20 seconds and it is terrifying. It is that precise moment in time in the Universe and that happens to be the Olympics. It can define your whole life.”

9 . A Belarusian athlete who defected rather than return home reminded the world of the pressures beyond sport. Sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, decided to flee after her gran warned her ‘not to go home’. Poland provided a humanitarian visa so that she can start a new life there with her partner, who left his homeland to be there to greet her.

Tsimanouskaya, 24, had been due to compete in the women’s 200m. She felt unable to represent President Alexander Lukashenko’s oppressive regime.

10. Missing gold by 100th of a second, British sprint star Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake produced one of the defining moments of Tokyo 2020, and showed how fine the margins are in elite sport.

Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake runs for the line alongside Italy’s Tortu Filippo in the Men’s 4 x 100m Relay Final



He was chased down by Italian Filippo Tortu in the final stride of the 100m relay. He was comforted at the end of the race by his team-mates Chijindu Ujah, Zharnel Hughes, and Richard Kilty – who assured him that he had done his best for the team.

11. Dina Asher-Smith: The Team GB poster girl broke down after she missed out on the 100m final and revealed she had been fighting an injury for weeks. The 25-year-old from Orpington, Kent, bounced back however to claim bronze in the 4x100m relay.

Dina Asher-Smith breaks down in tears



She said: “I was on crutches six weeks ago and there was a 10% chance – less than 10% chance – that I was going to be here.”

12. The first men’s 100m final since 2004 without Usain Bolt saw Italy’s Marcell Jacobs produce the performance of a lifetime. The Italian was the surprise champion, dipping at the line in a time of 9.80 seconds in a new national record. He came into the race as the surprise package with no experience racing in finals in major championships.

13 . Sky Brown, 13, sealed her place in history as Team GB’s youngest ever Olympic medallist. Sky took bronze in the new skateboarding park discipline on the hottest day of Tokyo 2020.

Sky Brown, 13, wins Bronze for GB for Women’s Skateboarding Park


Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)

She produced an impressive second round score of 57.4 to lead the competition despite blistering 32C (89.6F) heat and 90 percent humidity. In the final, she showed nerves of steel to score 56:47 in a dramatic last run of three after slipping out of a medal position into fourth place.

14. Unlucky for some, the Olympic village cardboard beds became infamous amid claims they were ‘anti-sex’. Their makers insisted they were ‘stronger than those made of wood and steel’. Athletes from around the world shared images on social media of the ‘recyclable’ bed frames, made by the Japanese company Airweave.

Tokyo 2020 said it was the first time Olympic village beds will be made almost entirely out of renewable materials.

15 . Like an Olympic bride and groom, BMX Queen Bethany Shriever was carried in the arms of GB team mate Kye Whyte. She had just won gold seconds after he had taken silver.

Bethany Shriever and Kye Whyte in BMX racing


Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)

Essex girl Bethany admitted her legs had ‘gone’ at the end of the race. Shriever, of Finchingfield, near Braintree in Essex, and Kye, the “pride of Peckham’, in south London, both want to promote BMX for young people.

16 . A female weightlifter became the first transgender athlete to compete at an Olympics – then announced she would soon quit. Laurel Hubbard, 43, was born Gavin and took part in the men’s event before transitioning eight years ago.

New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard competes in the women’s +87kg weightlifting


Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS)

She failed to manage a lift in women’s super-heavyweight weightlifting.

17. Troubled US gymnastics superstar Simone Biles spoke out about her mental health struggles after pulling out of the women’s team final – inspired by Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka.

Simone Biles returned to the competition


Getty Images)

18 . Jonny Brownlee won his first gold medal in his final Olympic race to become our most successful triathlete ever – and step. out of his brother’s shadow.

The Leeds-based star completed his set of Olympic gold, silver and bronze after victory in the mixed team event. Brownlee said: “The Olympics, I’ve completed it! It feels absolutely amazing. I finally walk away with gold.”

19 . “Let’s have one each!” Good friends Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar decided to share the Olympic high jump title, and did a lap of honour side by side after they landed equal heights with the same record of attempts.

20. Swimming star Duncan Scott became the first Brit to win four gongs in one Games.

The 24-year-old from Glasgow has a gold for the 4x200m relay, and three silvers for the men’s 200m individual medley, the 200m individual freestyle and the men’s 4x100m medley relay.

21. Max Whitlock was crowned Olympic champion again after he mounted a successful defence of his Olympic pommel title. First up in the eight-man final, Whitlock posted a score of 15.583 which could not be beaten.

Then our women’s gymnastics team won their first medal in the team event for 93 years – with the help of twin sisters who are just 16 years old. Alice Kinsella, Amelie Morgan, and twins Jessica Gadirova and Jennifer Gadirova made up a British quartet who delivered a historic bronze.

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