Rio Olympics 2016: Olympic moments that captured the hearts of fans

Xiang Liu of China kisses a hurdle after getting injured in the Men's 110m Hurdles Round 1 Heats at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photo / Getty
Xiang Liu of China kisses a hurdle after getting injured in the Men's 110m Hurdles Round 1 Heats at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photo / Getty

In light of New Zealand distance runner Nikki Hamblin's moment of true Olympic spirit overnight we look back at some Olympic moments that captured the hearts of fans worldwide.

Derek Redmond and father finish 400 metres

Englishman Derek Redmond's 1992 Barcelona Olympic story is both a heart-breaker and heart-melter. After posting the fastest time of the opening round and coasting through the quarter-final of the 400 metres, Redmond was in great form.

Redmond would not fare as well in the semifinal. After a good start, 250 metres from the finish line Redmond tore his hamstring. He fell to the ground in pain, stretchers were brought out, but Redmond had decided he wanted to finish the race.

He hobbled along the track and was soon joined by his father, who had barged past security to assist his son in one of the most uplifting moments in sporting history. As the pair crossed the finish line, they were met with a standing ovation from the 65,000 strong crowd.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos salute

At the 1968 Mexico Olympics, American Tommie Smith won the 200 meter race with a world-record time of 19.83 seconds and countryman John Carlos won third place with a time of 20.10 seconds. Australian Peter Norman finished second with a time of 20.06 seconds

Smith and Carlos then stood on the podium and each raised a black-gloved fist during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner".

The pair received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks, to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride, and Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with US blue collar workers and wore a necklace of beads which he described "were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage."

All three athletes wore Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges after Norman, a critic of Australia's White Australia Policy, expressed empathy with their ideals.

Jamaican bobsleigh team

"Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it's bobsled time!"

The Jamaican bobsleigh team's Olympic debut at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics was the ultimate underdog story.

Five Jamaicans trying out an unfamiliar sport and coached by an American former bobsledder, what's not to love?

In a show of sporting camaraderie across national boundaries, other bobsledders were quick to give them guidance and support. The team even borrowed spare sleds from other countries.

Unfortunately, the team officially did not finish after losing control and crashing in one of the qualifiers.

North Korea-South Korea selfie

Their countries may be at war, but gymnasts from North and South Korea shared a moment of unity in the form of a selfie at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

South Korean gymnast Lee Eun-ju, 17, and North Korean Hong Un-jong, 27, paused to snap a smiling picture together during a training period in Brazil, news.com.au reported.

The moment was captured by another photographer and tweeted by political scientist Ian Bremmer who said, "This is why we do the Olympics" about the display between citizens of the two technically warring countries.

His tweet has been retweeted and liked more than 21,000 times.

Liu Xiang's Beijing injury

After winning a gold medal in the 110m hurdles four years earlier in Athens, Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang went in to Beijing 2008 not only a crowd favourite, but a torch bearer who had the hometown advantage.

Xiang had literally one billion people behind him.

Which is what makes what happens next all the more tragic.

Xiang manages only a couple of steps out of the starting blocks before he starts limping, gripping at his achilles. The entire stadium was staring in shock.

Four years later, Xiang would be back at the Games, this time in London, for another shot at an Olympic medal.

Xiang fell at the first hurdle, tearing his achilles once again.

But Xiang was determined to finish. He gets up, hops the length of the track and pauses to kiss the final hurdle.

His fellow athletes come to his aid, helping him from the track.

Kerri Strug wins gold after injuring ankle

The U.S. women's gymnastics team had never won an Olympic team gold medal before and vowed that in 1996 they would not be denied.

Clinging to a narrow lead over Russia, the medal was decided by the vault on the final day of the event.

If the U.S. team collapsed, Russia could steal gold. The first four gymnasts for the U.S. team landed their attempts but not quite cleanly. Dominique Moceanu fell twice and registered a poor score. Kerri Strug was the last gymnast up for the U.S.

Strug under-rotated the landing of her first attempt, causing her to fall and damage her ankle.

Because of the order of the competition, Strug needed to land a second vault on her feet in order to mathematically clinch the gold.

She landed her second vault briefly on both feet, before almost instantly hopping onto only her good foot. She then collapsed onto her knees and needed assistance off the landing platform. The completed vault received score good enough to guarantee the Americans the gold medal.

Strug's coach then carried her onto the medals podium to join her team, after which she was treated at a hospital for a third-degree lateral sprain and tendon damage.

Greg Louganis wins gold after concussion in preliminaries

During diving preliminaries for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Greg Louganis suffered a concussion after hitting his head on the springboard.

He completed the preliminaries despite his injury, earning the highest single score of the qualifying round for his next dive and repeated the dive during the finals, earning the gold medal by a margin of 25 points.

- NZ Herald

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