The 2016 Rio Olympics gave us an abundance of memorable moments – from the bare-chested Tonga flag bearer Pita Taufatofua in the opening ceremony to the rain-soaked but radiant “Biles smiles” of the closing ceremony.
Whether your family were round-the-clock devotees of the Olympics coverage or just occasional gawkers, it was difficult to come out the games without learning a few life lessons. Here are five of our favorites.
- Win or lose, great sportsmanship always wins at the end of the day. Rather than sprinting off when she tumbled and fell alongside New Zealander Nikki Hamblin in a 5000 meter heat, American Abbey D’ Agostino stopped and helped Hamblin to the finish line. The pair were awarded the International Fair Play Committee Award for exemplifying the Olympic values of fair play and sportsmanship.
- Love of sports and the desire to triumph knows no national boundaries. The 10 members of the first ever Olympic Refugee Team came from war-torn regions of the world to compete in the games. The team members were hailed as “true Olympians” and provided a beacon of hope for the 65 million refugees living across the Globe. Marching under the Olympic Committee flag, the team taught the lesson that true inclusion is a hallmark of good sportsmanship.
- Dedication can take you wherever you want to go in life. Olympic Refugee Team swimmer 18-year-old Syrian Yusra Mardini faced nearly insurmountable odds to make it to Rio. In war-torn Syria, her trainings were perilous or nonexistent, sometimes being held in pools struck by explosives. Last summer, she and her sister helped save the lives of 20 fellow Syrian refugees after jumping off their sinking boat in the Aegean Sea and pushing it to land. While Mardini’s path to the Olympics was extreme, every Olympic athlete who made it to the games has a fascinating story of dedication to their sport.
- Never lie to your mother. The Ryan Lochte debacle proves that lies have a way of spinning out of control, even when they’re spun to cover up something embarrassing (such as a night of debauchery). While American swimmer Lochte might have thought the lie about being held up in Rio by armed gunmen would just stay between him and his mother, it soon went viral. When the truth about the night came out, Lochte’s fib damaged Brazilian-American relations, the American Olympic Team, and of course, his own career. In sports and in life, honesty is always the best policy!
- Don’t let fear be a guiding force. In the months leading up to the Rio Olympics, some of the coverage made it seem that the Games might be a disaster, or not happen at all. Fears over the Zika Virus, terrorism, polluted waterways, rampant crime, and social problems all conspired to put a damper on the games. But in the end, the games went on as planned, and even more importantly, were a success. This year the Olympic games taught us that while caution is always wise, fear should never guide us.
The Olympic Games taught so many great lessons! What will you take away from them?