The best Olympic moments that happened off the court

With no fans in the stands due to the pandemic, the Olympics look a little different this year — but the lack of spectators does not mean a lack of enthusiasm. 

Athletes have their own highlight reels from their Olympic performances, but here are the best moments so far from off the court, mat and track and out of the pool.

1. 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby wins gold — and her Alaska hometown goes wild

Lydia Jacoby was the first American woman to win a gold medal in the swimming events in Tokyo. The high school student dominated the women’s 100-meter breaststroke, completing it in 1 minute, 4.95 seconds — and when she did, her hometown went wild.

Footage from a watch party in Seward, Alaska shows friends and family jumping for joy after Jacoby, the first Alaskan to make the U.S. swim team, earned gold. 

2. Coach Dean Boxall can’t contain his excitement after swimmer Ariarne Titmus beats reigning champ

Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus beat Team USA’s Katie Ledecky in the 400-meter freestyle by two-thirds of a second Monday.

Titmus’ coach Dean Boxall went wild after she won. Cameras caught Boxall — hard to miss in a neon yellow shirt — punching the air, shouting and pacing back and forth in sheer excitement. His celebration quickly went viral on social media.

3. Athletes show off Olympic Village — including their cardboard beds

Upon arriving in Tokyo, several athletes began posting “tours” of the Olympic Village on social media — some, including Team USA skateboarder Nyjah Huston and Team USA track and field runner Paul Chelimo, showed off the odd cardboard beds.

The cardboard beds are made sustainably, out of “highly durable cardboard materials,” according to the Tokyo Organizing Committee’s pre-game report. “These will be turned into recycled paper after the Games.”

Still, many athletes seized the opportunity to use the beds in fun social media posts, with the Team USA rugby women posting a tongue-in-cheek TikTok video about the seemingly stiff beds that has gone viral.

4. Tom Daley’s mom and husband celebrate his first gold medal

British diver Tom Daley made his Olympics debut at the 2008 Beijing games — when he was just 14 years old. Fast forward to 2021, Daley is now a father and husband, and after years of trying, he finally brought home the gold.

Daley’s husband Dustin Lance Black, and mom, Debbie, were watching together at home — and their ecstatic reaction to the win melted hearts on social media.

5. 46-year-old Oksana Chusovitina receives standing ovation at final Olympics

Ukrainian gymnast Oksana Chusovitina has competed in eight Olympic games and recently announced that at 46 years old, Tokyo would be her last.

Chusovitina competed in the vault event on Sunday and after competing, the stadium gave her a standing ovation, honoring the history-making gymnast for decades of work in the sport.

6. Swimmer Caeleb Dressel tosses his first Olympic medal to his teammate in the stands

Caeleb Dressel won a gold medal for Team USA in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay on Monday, and immediately tossed the medal to Brooks Curry, his teammate seated in the bleachers.

Curry helped Dressel earn the medal, as he was the swimmer who competed in the preliminary round. Dressel swam for the final and shared his win with the teammate who helped get him there. 

7. Suni Lee’s friends and family react to her historic win

Suni Lee became the fifth straight American woman to win gold in the women’s Olympic gymnastics all-around at the Olympics on Thursday.

When Lee, the first Hmong-American Olympian, cinched the gold, 18-year-old’s friends and family watching at home in Minnesota erupted in cheers – including her dad, John Lee, who was paralyzed in an accident in 2019. “All the hard work all the broken bones, all the time you missed vacationing with us, it paid off,” he said after his daughter’s win. 

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