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The most viral moments of the 2016 Olympics

Photos logoPhotos 24-08-2016

From sparking off memes to making fans angry, the 2016 Olympics has a lot of moments outside of the competition that people are talking about.

Kiribati weightlifter dances for a cause

© Matt Kryger/USA TODAY Sports

David Katoatau, the weightlifter from Kiribati, became crowd favorite as he broke into a fun dance routine after his lifts during the 105kg Group B finals on Aug. 17. He finished sixth in the competition and his lifts weren't that great but the real reason behind his dancing is much deeper and touching: he danced to capture the world’s attention to his sinking Pacific island nation. "Most people don’t know where Kiribati is. I want people to know more about us so I use weightlifting, and my dancing, to show the world. I wrote an open letter to the world last year to tell people about all the homes lost to rising sea levels. I don’t know how many years it will be before it sinks," said the athlete.

Shaunae dives to win

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In one of the closest finish in this year’s Olympics, Bahamas' Shaunae Miller (L) clinched the gold medal at the women’s 400m final by diving across the finishing line. Throughout the race, Miller had garnered a considerable lead but it was threatened by USA’s Allyson Felix (C) in the last 100 meters of the race. In a desperate attempt to win the race, Miller dived for the finish, crossing Felix by milliseconds to the finish. 

Miller won the gold with at time of 49.44s, while Felix won silver with 49.51s. Shericka Jackson of Jamaica came third in the race.

French pole vaulter breaks down on podium

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On Aug. 16, French athlete Renaud Lavillenie cried on the podium during the medal ceremony after being booed for the second time by the Brazilian crowd. The first time happened when he competed against Brazil’s Thiago Braz da Silva at the men’s pole vault final on Aug. 15. As he attempted his jump, the crowd continually jeered and whistled to rattle his attention. Shaken by the behavior, he said: "I’m a bit disappointed, (it was) not fair play from the stadium. You see it in football. It is the first time I have seen it in track and field."

Usain Bolt and Andre De Grasse build up their bromance

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Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (R) grinned while sprinting alongside Canadian Andre De Grasse (L) in the 200m semifinals on Aug. 18 and sparked off an Olympic bromance moment. The pair even embraced after crossing the finish line – way ahead of the other runners – with Bolt coming in first and De Grasse second. Bolt later said De Grasse surprised him by pushing him to his limits. "He was supposed to slow down. I said, 'What are you doing, it's a semi-final?' But I think he wanted to push me. I was a bit lazy, but I got round."

Olympic spirit on the athletics track

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In the women’s 5,000m heats, Abbey D’Agostino of USA fell and took New Zealand's Nikki Hamblin, who was running just ahead of her, down with her on the track. What followed next highlights the true sportsman spirit: D’Agostino helped Hamblin back on her feet, urging her to complete the race. Then the Kiwi returned the favor by lending physical support to the badly-bruised American until she was able to continue under her own speed. They both went on to finish the race. "Everyone wants to win and get a medal, but as disappointing as it is, there is so much more to this. It is just a mutual understanding of how much everyone puts into it. For sure (we have) a friendship now," Hamblin said afterwards.

Joseph Schooling defeats childhood hero Michael Phelps

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They say never meet your hero, but then not every hero is Michael Phelps. The most successful Olympian of all time was beaten in the 100 meter butterfly by a certain Joseph Schooling of Singapore. Soon, photos resurfaced of a geeky-looking 13-year-old Schooling meeting his idol in Singapore in 2008. The fan defeated his hero at the Olympics. 

Schooling paid rich tribute to his idol saying "If it wasn’t for Michael, I don’t think I could have gotten to this point. I wanted to be like him as a kid. I think a lot of this is because of Michael. He is the reason why I wanted to be a better swimmer." Phelps later posted a photo of both of them on his Instagram account, writing: "What a race!! Congrats to @josephschooling !!! We've got an updated pic!! Best of luck bro!! I'll be watching!"

Ellen DeGeneres invites social media wrath with Usain Bolt tweet

Usain Bolt's familiar cheeky smile at the finish line in the Olympics 100m semifinals on Aug. 14 has been widely shared on the internet ever since. American TV personality Ellen DeGeneres, too, decided to jump on the bandwagon and Photoshopped her picture on the Jamaican’s back and shared the image on her Twitter account with the caption "This how I'm running errands from now on. #Rio2016."

© Cameron Spencer/Getty Images; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

The Twitterati soon criticized the tweet, calling it racist for depicting a white woman riding on a black man's back. DeGeneres soon tweeted in her defense: "I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country. It is the furthest thing from who I am." There were many, however, who supported the TV star, with Bolt himself retweeting the image.

Bolt flashes cheeky smile during 100m semifinal

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Although Usain Bolt successfully defended his 100m title as the world’s fastest man on Aug. 14, it was this picture from the semi-final race that took Twitter by storm. Just before crossing the finish line, he looked on to his left and grinned. The moment, capture by photographer Cameron Spencer, shows how easily the Jamaican sprinter qualified for the final. While the image is being heralded as one of the best pictures of Bolt, Spencer is garnering praise for his work with many commentators saying: "pretty much Bolt's whole career in one photo."

Sisterly love over sporting ideals?

German identical twins Anna (L) and Lisa Hahner finished 81st and 82nd, respectively, in the Olympic marathon on Aug. 14 and crossed the finish line holding hands. The duo has been criticized by German Athletics Federation director Thomas Kurschilgen, who said: "It looked as though they completed a fun run and not [an] Olympic [race]." He went on to add that the act was "disrespectful and a slap in the face to all the other athletes in the German team."

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The twins defended themselves by writing a Facebook post: "Definitely not what we had hoped for.... Nevertheless, one of our greatest sporting moments. For this we had trained to our limit and sometimes beyond."

North and South Korean athletes bond over a selfie

© Dylan Martinez/Reuters

North Korean gymnast Hong Un-jong (L) and South Korea’s Lee Eun-ju (R) took a selfie during their training period, which was hailed as representing the spirit of the games. While some people expressed concern for Hong for she might be punished once she goes back home, others were calling it as the "most iconic photo" of the event.

Rugby player receives marriage proposal from girlfriend  

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Brazilian rugby player Isadora Cerullo (L) received an on-field marriage proposal from girlfriend Marjorie Enya (R), who's also a manager at Deodoro Stadium. Even though Cerullo’s team finished ninth in the first-ever rugby sevens event at the Olympics, Enya cheered her up when she took heart-shaped balloons and got on the field to pop the question.

Leslie Jones' tweet sends her to Rio


Actress Leslie Jones’ (pictured) tweet-storm supporting Team USA at the Olympics caught NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell's eye, who agreed to send her to Rio to work on their coverage. The “Ghostbusters” actress will be joining the network as a correspondent, meeting athletes and interviewing them.

Chad le Clos plays mind games with Michael Phelps

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South African Chad le Clos (pictured) tried to – and failed to! – intimidate his U.S. rival Michael Phelps before the Men’s 200-meter butterfly semifinal on Aug. 8. Le Clos was seen shadowboxing right in front Phelps, who was staring daggers at him. Later, after beating the South African swimmer, when asked about the dancing, Phelps said he wasn’t really looking at Le Clos. "He does his thing, I do my thing," he said.

Green pool water scares athletes

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The diving pool at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center turned bright green on Aug. 9. Before the officials blamed algae for the discoloration, there were few theories making the rounds on the internet, including the presence of oxidized copper and urine in the water.

Mysterious purple spots on U.S. athletes

© Michael Dalder/Reuters

A number of U.S. athletes, including Michael Phelps (pictured), were seen with purple bruises over their back. After the images went viral, it was found that the marks were leftovers from "cupping" — an ancient Chinese healing practice. Practitioners place specialized cups on the skin or wherever the athlete is experiencing some discomfort and then create suction between the cup and the skin, pulling the skin away from the underlying muscle. This is supposed to help ease blood flow in the muscles, reducing soreness and speeding the healing process.

Phelps' unique stretching technique 

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Michael Phelps has a unique way of stretching his muscles before a race: he wraps his 80-inch wing span around his back — leaving many wondering if that's the secret of his success. The technique has inspired the Chinese people so much that they have started following his warm-up move and posting the pictures about the same. The hashtags #Feiyubao and #Feiyubaobimohoubei, which roughly translates to "Phelps crossing arms whilst touching his back," have been viewed more than 10 million times on Sina Weibo, the Chinese microblogging site. 

Tonga's hunky flag bearer steals the show 

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Ladies around the world had a collective meltdown after seeing Tonga’s flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua (pictured), during the opening ceremony. He was wearing a ta’ovala (a Tongan mat) wrapped around his waist and was oiled up. The first-time Olympian is also the first person from Tonga to compete in taekwondo.

A proposal … on the podium

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Love is definitely in the air at the 2016 Olympics. In a series of marriage proposals that are popping up at various events, Chinese diver He Zi was asked to take the plunge again. Zi, who won a silver medal for the women's 3m springboard diving, appeared quite surprised when Rio Olympics’ bronze medalist Qin Kai materialized at the medal ceremony and went down on his knees to propose her with an engagement ring. Zi said yes to her boyfriend of six years.

Phelps celebrates with son Boomer

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Michael Phelps’ son Boomer stole the show when the swimmer went toward the stands to kiss his little boy after collecting his medal for the men's 200-meter butterfly final. His fans went "aww" when they saw the father-son duo cuddle. His fiancée Nicole Johnson and mother were also present to support the Olympian.

NBC announcer criticized over comments on U.S. gymnast's parents

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Three-time World Champion and now an Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles’ (R) parents were derided by Al Trautwig, NBC’s gymnastics announcer for the game. Biles and her sister were adopted by her maternal grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles (L) in 2001 as their biological mother struggled with a drug habit. In a now-deleted tweet, he had said: "They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents." Soon after that, the "Gymternet" blasted Trautwig for making the comment and #FireTrautwig started trending on Twitter.

Lefort's phone falls out of pocket

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Fencer Enzo Lefort of France had an odd moment during his individual foil qualifying bout against Germany's Peter Joppich (R), when his phone fell out of his back pocket in the middle of the match. The crowd booed him as he quickly picked it up and handed it to someone on the sidelines.

Horton calls Yang a "drug cheat"

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Swimmer Mack Horton of Australia, who clinched the gold medal in the men's 400m freestyle, ran into a controversy when he called China's silver medalist Sun Yang a "drug cheat." Horton said, "I don’t have time or respect for drug cheats." Sun, who received a three-month doping ban in 2014, broke down during an interview after the race. His fans, however, supported him, with "Sun Yang Don't Cry" becoming the top-trending hashtag on Chinese social media.

American fencer creates Olympic history

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Ibtihaj Muhammad (pictured) of USA made history by becoming the first Muslim woman from the country to compete in the Olympics in a hijab. Muhammad, who features in the 2016 list of Time's 100 Most Influential People, said: "I want to compete in the Olympics for the United States to prove that nothing should hinder anyone from reaching their goals — not race, religion or gender."

U.S. swimmer Lilly King speaks her mind on drug cheating

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U.S. Olympic gold medalist Lilly King was watching the women’s 100-meter breaststroke semifinal on Aug. 7 when she saw Russia’s Yulia Efimova (pictured) strike a number one pose. King wagged her finger in return and then later went on to win the gold. The American champion was miffed because Efimova had tested positive for meldonium, a performance enhancer, in early 2016. King later told NBC: "You've been caught for drug cheating. I'm just not a fan."

Gymnast's parents get adorably nervous watching her perform

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The parents of Aly Raisman, the captain of Team USA women’s gymnastics, could barely watch their daughter perform on the uneven bars on Aug. 7.  During the performance, they fidgeted and moved in sync with Raisman’s routine. Only once she got done did both of them jump up and give each other high fives. (Pictured): Rick Raisman (front passenger seat) and Lynn Raisman (backseat) drive during a parade with their other three children in 2012.

Rio's Olympic mascot has everyone confused

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It's a cat... It's a Minion... No, it's a mix of various Brazilian animals. This year's Olympic mascot may look cute, but people were not quite sure which animal it represented. A mixture of different Brazilian animals, he is named after the famous Brazilian musician Vinicus de Moraes. (Pictured on right) Tom, the Paralympic Games mascot is a mixture of every plant in Brazil.

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