Wayde Van Niekirk won gold and smashed Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old record for the men’s 400-meter. The South African’s mother — Odessa Swarts — was an accomplished sprinter but never got to compete at the Olympics under apartheid.
Bahamian sprinter Shaunae Miller won the gold in the women’s 400-meter by diving across the finish line. Despite some controversy, diving is completely legal during a race.
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Joseph Schooling upset his longtime idol Michael Phelps to win the 100-meter butterfly. The medal was Singapore’s first gold.
Tennis star Monica Puig won Puerto Rico’s first gold medal after besting Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the women’s singles tournament.
Simone Manuel made history in the pool by becoming the first African-American woman to win an individual event in Olympic swimming. She also, along with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak tied for the fastest time, and new Olympic record, during the 100 meter freestyle.
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Gymnast Simone Biles was a standout throught the Rio Games. She led the U.S. squad to team gold and won the women’s all-around individual gold as well.
The most decorated Olympian of all added more hardware in his final Games — 5 gold and 1 silver — for a career total of 28 medals.
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Chinese swimmer Ning Zetao gained a massive social following after his competitions.
Many of the online respondents commented on his good looks and muscular physique, calling him “husband material.”
Pita Taufatofua, the Tonga flagbearer during the opening ceremony, gained a lot of internet attention due to the amount of oil he covered himself in before marching with the flag. He competed in taekwondo.
Kerri Walsh Jennings
Kerri Walsh Jennings fell just short of her fourth consecutive beach volleyball gold medal in Rio. She and new partner April Ross won the bronze medal.
AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno was attacked by internet trolls after competing in her events in Rio.
Critics called her gordo (Spanish for “fat”) and said she should have dieted before the Olympics. Moreno weighs 99 pounds.
Others defended her, calling her the pride of Mexico and a phenomenal athlete.
She ranked a very respectable 31st in the women’s all-around qualification.
Elena Delle Donne
Team USA basketball player Elena Delle Donne made headlines on and off the court when she came out as gay and announced she was engaged.
Chinese backstroker Fu Yuanhui climbed out of the Rio pool after the 100 meter final and was dragged aside by China Central Television for a post-race interview.
She began by explaining that she was pleased with her personal best time, even though she had not won a medal — only to be told by the interviewer that she had tied for bronze.
Her surprise reaction, honesty and geekiness that followed turned Fu into a social media star. Within hours, her following on blog site Weibo had increased sevenfold to 3.5 million.
Canadian swimmer Santo Condorelli flips his dad the bird before every race for good luck. This ritual earned him a lot of attention at the Games.
Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad made history in Rio by becoming the first American to wear a hijab during competition.
Katie Ledecky shattered her own world record in the 800m freestyle to win gold. She was so far ahead of the rest of the field they weren’t even visible on TV when she finished.
The young Brazil team captain got some flak so far due to his team’s two early goalless draws against South Africa and Iraq.
The soccer star redeemed himself by scoring the winning penalty kick in the gold medal game.
Oksana Chusovitina made history in Rio by competing in her seventh Olympics. The gymnast is 41 years old.
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won unprecedented triple-triple golds in his events at the Rio games this year, securing his status as the greatest sprinter of all time.
Iranian archer Zahra Nemati warmed hearts competing in the archery competition. Nemati had originally competed in taekwondo before being paralyzed in a car accident and moving to archery. She served as her country’s flag bearer.