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11 Moments From The Tokyo Olympics That Show What Good Sportsmanship Looks Like

From consoling and celebrating competitors to sharing gold medals and words of support, here are some of the heartfelt moments of sportsmanship among this year's Olympic athletes.

Posted on August 3, 2021, at 11:25 a.m. ET

Jae C. Hong / AP, Gregory Bull / AP, David Ramos / Getty Images

The Olympics have never been short on heartening displays of courage, team spirit, and camaraderie among competitors.

But in a tough year that has taken a physical and emotional toll on everyone, including athletes, every act of kindness and sportsmanship between Olympians competing at the highest level of their sport feels especially meaningful.

Here are some of those truly moving moments of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

When two running rivals tripped and fell together, they put their arms across each other and finished the race together.

After having their races cut short, Isaiah Jewett and Nijel Amos showed the ultimate sportsmanship. #TokyoOlympics

twitter.com / NBCOlympics/status/1421801309532004356

When runners Isaiah Jewett of the US and Nijel Amos of Botswana fell during the 800-meter race, they helped each other up, put their arms around each other, and jogged to the finish line together.

"As he looked at me, he said, 'I’m sorry,'" Jewett recalled after the race, the AP reported. "I said, 'It's OK, man.'

"Regardless of how mad you are, you have to be a hero at the end of the day," Jewett said. "Because that’s what heroes do: They show their humanity through who they are and show they’re good people."

When two rivals and friends chose to share a gold medal instead of breaking their tie in the high jump competition.

When Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi finished the men's high jump competition tied, they could have gone to a jump-off to decide the winner. Instead, they decided to share the gold, and their reaction is what we love about sports. #TokyoOlympics

Twitter: @NBCOlympics

It took Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar mere seconds to decide that they would share the gold medal at the Olympic men's high jump final, creating one of the most memorable moments of this year's Games.

Both athletes were tied after completing a jump of 2.37 meters (7 feet, 9¼ inches) but failing to complete the 2.39 meters jump in three attempts each.

They could settle it with a jump-off or share the gold.

While an Olympic official was explaining the rule, Barshim interrupted to ask, "Can we have two golds?"

With a quick look of agreement and a handshake, the two of them decided to share the gold, prompting an ecstatic Tamberi to jump on Barshim in celebration as the crowd went wild.

"I look at him, he looks at me, and we know it. We just look at each other and we know, that is it, it is done. There is no need," Barshim said after the win, CBC reported.

"He is one of my best friends, not only on the track, but outside the track. We work together. This is a dream come true. It is the true spirit, the sportsman spirit, and we are here delivering this message," Barshim said.

When a triathlon runner consoled her sobbing competitor who came in last: "You're a fucking fighter."

Sebastian Gollnow / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Norway's Lotte Miller (left) consoles Belgium's Claire Michel, who sits exhausted and emotional at the finish line.

After finishing the grueling women's triathlon in last place, an exhausted Claire Michel from Belgium sat on the ground after crossing the finish line and cried inconsolably.

Of the 54 athletes who began the race, 20 were either lapped or dropped out, the AP reported.

Norway's Lotte Miller, who came in 24th, went up to Michel and gave her a little pep talk.

"You're a fucking fighter," Miller told Michel. "This is Olympic spirit, and you've got it 100%."

When a South African swimmer who couldn't believe she had broken the world record and won a gold medal was enveloped in a joyous group hug from her American opponents.

THIS IS WHAT THE OLYMPICS ARE ALL ABOUT ❤️ #TokyoOlympics

Twitter: @NBCOlympics

Tatjana Schoenmaker was shocked after learning she had won the gold and set a world record in the 200-meter breaststroke.

As the South African grew emotional, Team USA's Annie Lazor in the next lane came over to embrace her excitedly.

Within seconds, another American swimmer, Lilly King, and Schoenmaker's teammate, Kaylene Corbett, joined the two of them in a heartwarming and celebratory group hug.

Lazor repeatedly told a sobbing Schoenmaker, "Amazing!"

When fierce swimming rivals Katie Ledecky from the US and Ariarne Titmus from Australia showed what true sportsmanship looks like.

Katie Ledecky 🤝 Ariarne Titmus Sportsmanship. #TokyoOlympics

Twitter: @NBCOlympics

After Titmus beat Ledecky in an incredibly close finish in the 400-meter freestyle final, the two world-class rivals laughed and put their arms around each other on the pool deck after the race.

"I thanked her. I wouldn't be here without her," Ledecky said, recalling her exchange with Titmus after the race. "She set this incredible standard. All credit to her for the swimmer she is. I've been trying to chase her."

When a defending Olympic champion and world-record holder said how proud she was of the 17-year-old swimmer who beat her.

"We love to keep that gold in the USA family, so this kid just had the swim of her life and I am so proud to be her teammate." Lydia Jacoby and @_king_lil react to their gold and bronze medals in the women's 100m breaststroke. #TokyoOlympics

Twitter: @NBCOlympics

Team USA's Lilly King, now a four-time Olympic medalist, was expected to win the women’s 100-meter breaststroke and defend her gold medal.

But in an unexpected twist, she lost to her 17-year-old teammate, Lydia Jacoby, who was the first Alaskan to compete in the Olympics. King, 24, won the bronze.

Despite her personal disappointment, King talked up the young swimmer after the race: "We love to keep that gold in the USA family, so this kid just had the swim of her life and I am so proud to be her teammate."

When a swimmer gave his gold medal to the teammate he had replaced in the finals.

Class. 🥇 Caeleb Dressel gave his gold medal to Brooks Curry, who swam for Dressel in the prelims. Dressel replaced Curry for the final. #TokyoOlympics x @USASwimming

Twitter: @NBCOlympics

After Team USA won the gold in the men's 4x100 freestyle relay, Caeleb Dressel tossed over his medal to Brooks Curry, who was in the stands.

Curry had swum in the prelims in place of Dressel and helped get the team into the finals.

Dressel replaced Curry in the final and, in a show of overwhelming team spirit, gave his gold medal to Curry after the win.

But, as NBC News reported, Curry will get his own medal per the rules.

When two 13-year-old skateboarding rivals shared a warm handshake, hug, and fist bump after battling it out for the gold.

Japan's Momiji Nishiya and Brazil's Rayssa Leal have two things in common: They are both 13 years old and they are both Olympic medalists. #TokyoOlympics | #OlympicHERstory

Twitter: @NBCOlympics

Momiji Nishiya of Japan and Rayssa Leal of Brazil showed that the kids are definitely all right when they exchanged a warm hug after fighting it out in the women's skateboarding event.

Nishiya won the gold and Leal took the silver.

When the GOAT Simone Biles was the first to congratulate the ROC women's gymnastics team captain, Angelina Melnikova, after she led her team to victory over the US.

Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images, Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

USA's Simone Biles and ROC's Angelina Melnikova embrace after the women's team final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

After Biles pulled out from the women's gymnastics team final citing mental health concerns, Team USA lost the gold to the ROC.

Despite her personal struggles, Biles returned to the arena to cheer on her teammates from the sidelines. Without Biles, the US finished in second place with a silver medal.

Despite the massive upset, Biles was the first to go over and congratulate Melnikova and her teammates and pull them in a warm embrace.

When a reigning badminton champion exchanged shirts with the player who dethroned him.

I LOVE THIS MOMENT! 👏👏🥰What a fabulous display of sportsmanship and camaraderie. This is what the #Olympics is all about. ❤️ #DEN’s Viktor Axelsen defeated #CHN’s Chen Long and they met after the game, greeted each other, hugged, and exchanged shirts. #Tokyo2020 #Badminton

Twitter: @shichiybot

Denmark's Viktor Axelsen beat defending champion Chen Long to win the men’s singles badminton final, dashing the Chinese star player's hopes of getting back-to-back golds.

But the two competitors hugged warmly and even exchanged their shirts after the match.

"I respect Chen Long a lot,” Axelsen said. "He came over to my side of the court and told me I deserved it and that my performance here has been great. I asked him if we could change shirts, and we did."

When a badminton player comforted and encouraged the competitor who had previously defeated her.

A champion to another champion Sportsmanship at its peak ⛰️ You are a true champion @Pvsindhu1 #Olympics #Badminton #tokyo2020

Twitter: @Sportskeeda

When the world No. 1 badminton player, Tai Tzu-ying, lost her shot at winning a gold medal in a heartbreaking defeat, she was comforted by the opponent she had beaten just the day before.

In an Instagram post, Taiwan's Tai wrote that after being awarded the silver at the medal ceremony, Indian player PV Sindhu ran up to her, hugged her, held her face, and gave her words of support and encouragement.

Tai recalled Sindhu telling her, "You performed very well. Today just wasn't your day," Taipei Times reported.

Just the day before, Tai had dashed Sindhu's hope of winning a gold by defeating her in the semifinals.

Tai wrote that Sindhu then held her in her arms and told her that she knew all about disappointment.

"That sincere encouragement made me burst out in tears... I was really sad because I tried so hard,” Tai said.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.