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12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

As the dates of the Paris Olympics come closer, we look back on the 12 instances of the Olympic spirit that athletes displayed during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

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Payal Debnath
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12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi shared the gold medal in the men’s high jump event in the Tokyo Olympics 2021.

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There's no denying that sporting rivalries, at times, go a little out of hand. We have seen opponents battling it out, even physically, particularly on football fields. Sledging is pretty common in cricket. But for every unpalatable moment on the field, there are far better and far more emotional moments that leave you overwhelmed and wanting to watch the sport even more.

There have already been quite a few such instances in the Tokyo Olympics 2021. Let's talk about the 12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown.

Also Read: Looking back at India's 7 medals at Tokyo Olympics 2020

Olympic spirit where respect was shown

12. Women's Hockey 

12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

The history-making Indian women’s hockey team’s dream of securing its maiden Olympic medal remained unfulfilled as it lost 3-4 to Great Britain in a hard-fought bronze play-off but the stout-hearted side managed to record its best-ever finish at the Tokyo Games.

The team had already created history and surpassed all expectations by entering the semifinals of the Games for the first time. India’s best performance in the Olympics before this was a fourth-place finish in the 1980 Moscow.

The Indians played their hearts out and overcame a two-goal deficit to lead 3-2 at halftime. But a desperate Great Britain gave their everything in the second half and scored two goals to snatch the match from India’s hands. But rather than celebrate, the entire Great Britain team consoled the Indian team, helping them deal with their anguish and congratulating them on their efforts. 

11. Swimming 

12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

Swimmer Wang Shun became the first new Olympic champion in 21 years after the retirement of four-time winner Michael Phelps from the United States in the Tokyo Olympics 2021. He broke the Asian record to top the podium in the men's 200m individual medley.

Michael Phelps, who was one of the most decorated Olympians of all time, had dominated the pool for over nearly two decades by winning four consecutive 200m medley titles.

After claiming gold in Tokyo, Wang walked over to Hungarian legend Laszlo Cseh on the pool deck, bowed to him and shook his hands to honour his outstanding career. It was a beautiful moment of respect and acknowledgement from a freshly crowned gold medalist for a giant of the sport.

10. Equestrian

12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

Eight-time Olympian Andrew Hoy became Australia’s oldest Olympic medallist, winning a Tokyo 2020 silver medal as part of the equestrian eventing team with Shane Rose and Kevin McNab, finished second behind Great Britain.

Then just a couple of hours later, Hoy doubled his Tokyo 2020 tally with an individual bronze medal in the eventing jumping final. 

After winning the medal, Hoy gave his horse Vassily de Lassos a full winning contribution. He then sent out the highest praise to his horse on Instagram by showing respect. Hoy also said that he had a wonderful relationship with this horse and he respects him.  

9. Women's Judo

12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

Defying expectations that she would forfeit the match, Saudi Arabia’s judoka Tahani Alqahtani faced off against Israel’s Raz Hershko in the Tokyo Olympics. Historically, many athletes from Arab or Muslim nations have boycotted playing against Israelis in sporting matches. A pair of judokas forfeited their matches this week rather than face an Israeli opponent. 

It was for many the ultimate form of respect for a fellow competitor, beyond any political ideology. Al-Qahtani not only showed up, but put her arm around Hershko and shook her hand following the match.

Also Read: India at Olympics: India's medals at the Olympics by sports

8. Basketball 

12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

Argentina's Luis Scola will go down in history as one of the country's greatest basketball athletes of all time, and in the Tokyo Olympics, he received the praise he deserves. During a stoppage of play in the final minute of Argentina's 97-59 loss to Australia, Scola's teammates, as well as the Australians and all in attendance, gave the 41-year-old five-time Olympian a standing ovation in what could possibly be the final game of his international playing career.

The Boomers players stepped in alongside their Argentinian counterparts to give him a spontaneous and deserving farewell when Scola was substituted in the last minute of the match, with Argentina well behind.

7. Badminton 

12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

After the conclusion of the men's singles badminton final in the Tokyo Olympics, Denmark's Viktor Axelsen exchanged his shirt with China's Chen Long as a mark of respect for his opponent.

Fans and supporters of both players cherished the moment. Axelsen bagged the gold after defeating Mr Long, who claimed the title in Rio back in 2016. 

This tradition at the Olympics began five years ago when Malaysian badminton star Lee Chong Wei and the double Olympic champion from China, Lin Din, swapped their shirts in the men's singles semi-final at Rio. After the game, the two players embraced each other and exchanged their jerseys. 

6. Decathlon

12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

Decathlon star Ash Moloney was roared across the line by his injured countryman Cedric Dubler to win Australia's first athletics medal of the Tokyo Games. Battling Moloney, 21, took bronze in the decathlon but owed it in huge part to the ferocious encouragement of Dubler who pushed him past his limits in the 1500m. 

Dubler, 26, was out of medal contention after injuring his hamstring during the competition. But he made sure his Brisbane training partner remained in the running all the way to the finishing line of the 1500m final event of the decathlon. 

5. Men's High Jump

12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi shared the top step of the podium in the men’s high jump in the Tokyo Olympics after both scaled 2.37m. With no athlete able to beat a height of 2.39m, the gold was shared between Barshim and Tamberi, with Nedasekau taking the bronze on the countback.

Barshim, 30, and Tamberi, 29, slapped hands and hugged, celebrating an unlikely dual finish atop the podium. Even before conferring with the official, the pair had been in a tight hug, congratulating each other on bringing out their best at the Tokyo Olympics. They became a symbol of the sportsmanship and friendship the Olympics were designed to create. 

4. Skateboarding

12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

A heartwarming scene unfolded in the Tokyo Olympics skateboarding park final after Japan's Misugu Okamoto fell on her run. 15-year-old Okamoto was leading the competition when she began her final run. However, she fell attempting an indie flip, the top trick of her run, and slipped into fourth place. She looked distraught leaving the bowl.

However, when Okamoto got out of the bowl, the other competitors ran over to console, hug, and carry her on their shoulders. When asked about the gesture from other skaters, Okamoto teared up and said she was "grateful." 

3. Rugby Sevens 

12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

New Zealand rugby sevens star Ruby Tui is going viral after a larger-than-life post-match interview at the Tokyo Olympics. Tui was called over for a chat by the BBC's Jill Douglas after the Black Ferns beat Russia's Olympic Committee 36-0 to reach the semi-finals. 

Tui paid respects in language to her Samoan ancestors and switched back to English. She encapsulated the Olympic spirit by recognising the effort of her opposition.

The interview showcased Polynesian humility, exuberance, humour and cultural strength, all underpinned by respect. She also revealed that members of the Black Ferns had contributed to Team GB’s crowdfunding to get their team to Tokyo.  

2. Track and field

12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

Running the final curb in the men’s 800 meters, American Isaiah Jewett was in prime position to finish in the top two in his heat. Unfortunately, an unintentional disaster happened. Botswana’s Nijel Amos inadvertently tripped Jewett from behind and the two middle-distance runners collapsed on the track.

In a remarkable display of sportsmanship, Jewett got back up and helped Amos to his feet. Amos apologized for the mistake, Jewett put his arm around him and the two finished the race. 

Amos let Jewett finish one step ahead of him. Jewett finished second to last in a 2:38.12 and Amos was last at 2:38.49. But where they finished was secondary. What mattered is that they finished the race and they showed everyone witnessing around the world an example of sportsmanship and forgiveness. 

Also Read: From Abhinav Brinda to PV Sindhu: Every First for India at Olympics

1. Track and Field 

12 examples of the Olympic Spirit where respect was shown

Jamaican sprinter Hansle Parchment reached the wrong venue on the day of the finals and was in danger of getting disqualified from the race due to a no-show before a Japanese volunteer came to his rescue.

The Games volunteer gave him money to take a taxi to the correct venue where he reached just in time and went on to register a stunning win to clinch the gold medal.

After winning the gold, the 31-year-old managed to locate the volunteer and show her his gold medal. Parchment also gave her the money he owed her and presented a t-shirt before posing for a selfie with her. 

Tokyo Olympics 2021 Olympics Facts