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5 Inspiring Stories From the Rio 2016 Olympics

Happiness | Lifestyle

It's been a wild ride, but the Rio Olympics has officially ended. For 16 days, we've been witness to not just incredible feats of athleticism, but a lot of compassion, love, and unity as well.

From rugby players crying tears of joy after a well-deserved win, to athletes from divided nations sharing a lighthearted selfie, the Rio Olympics was full of incredibly inspiring and heartwarming moments. Grab a tissue: the following are some of our favorites.

1. Two Neighbors Take a Selfie


Two gymnasts took what might be the most iconic photograph taken during the games. 17-year-old Lee Eun-Ju of South Korea and Hong Un-Jong, 27, of North Korea were chatting together and having fun during a practice session. Fortunately, photographers were there to snap the moment Eun-Ju held her mobile out to take the year's most memorable selfie.

South Korea and North Korea's political relations are still very hostile, so the selfie is seen as photographic proof that sports can bring everyone together.

Image source: CNN

2. From the Brazil Slums to Olympic Greatness


Rafaela Silva, who won Brazil's first gold medal in the Rio Olympics, is a hero not just to judo fans, but to children in the country's favelas as well. Silva grew up in the Cidade de Deus favela, the violent slum neighborhood made famous by the film “City of God.”

She learned judo at Instituto Reacao, a school founded by former Olympian Flavio Canto. The school aims to provide children from impoverished neighborhoods with an alternative to gang membership.

Silva's triumph has made her a symbol of hope to children in the favelas. She is proof that someone from a neighborhood just like theirs can make it out of poverty and achieve greatness.

Image source: Washington Post

3. #LoveWins on the Rugby Pitch


Her team might not have won a medal, but Brazilian women's rugby player Isadora Cerullo has plenty to celebrate. Immediately after the first-ever women's rugby sevens final ever to take place at the Olympics, she became the first person to receive a marriage proposal at this year's games.

After the match, Cerullo's girlfriend, stadium manager Marjorie Enya, grabbed a microphone and proposed. Cerullo accepted with a hug and a kiss, to cheers and applause from teammates and onlookers. In lieu of a ring, Enya tied a bit of yellow ribbon around her new fiance's finger.

Image source: CNN

4.  Winning Fiji Rugby Team Cries Tears of Joy


The Fiji men's rugby sevens team made history by beating Great Britain (43-7) and winning the nation's first ever Olympic medal, a gold. It was an emotional moment for all of Fiji, with citizens dancing in the streets and rooftops of the Suva, the capital. But it was the men's rugby sevens team's reaction upon winning the gold that had the Internet talking (and sniffling).

The members of the team huddled together in a circle, tears running down their faces. Together, they sang a beautiful hymn, "E Da Sa Qaqa." The title translates to "We Are Winners Because of This World."

Image source: Daily Mail

5. The Olympic Refugee Team, Immortalized


For the first time ever, a team composed entirely of refugees from four countries competed at the Olympics. The Olympic Refugee Team represented more than 21 million refugees around the world.

These athletes all endured extreme hardship in their home countries before fleeing to safety. One of them,  18-year-old swimmer Yusra Mardini, had battled the open seas when the motor of the dinghy she was in broke down.

Unwilling to leave her fellow refugees behind, she helped drag the dinghy to shore, swimming for three hours straight. Just one year later, Mardini won the opening heat of 100m butterfly at the Rio Olympics.

The refugee team might not have won medals this year, but their determination and perseverance in the face of adversity won admirers all over the world.

To pay tribute to these amazing athletes and their incredible journey, two Brazilian artists painted their portraits in a gigantic graffiti mural along Rio's Olympic Boulevard. One of the artists, Rodrigo Sini, said, “For me, they’re already gold medal champions.”

Image source: NB Olympics 

What's your favorite inspiring moment from the Rio Olympics? We'd love to hear about it. Sound off in the comments!

Featured in New York Magazine, The Guardian, and The Washington Post
Featured in the Huffington Post, USA Today, and VOGUE

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