The Tokyo Games are almost here. We individually revisit an amazing Olympic memory, per diem, over the 25-day leadup.
NBC will have comprehensive coverage of the Tokyo Olympics' Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 23, beginning live at 6:55 a.m. ET. The ceremony will be re-aired at 7:30 p.m. ET for U.S. viewers who tune in for primetime, then replayed again overnight.
9 | Usain Bolt, 2012 London Games
Gold - 100m
Usain Bolt completed the "double-triple" at the 2012 London Olympics, successfully defending his gold medals from the 2008 Beijing Games in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. That relay gold from 2008 would later be stripped in 2017, but at the time was still valid and and thus a title defense for Jamaica.
The Jamaica sprinter had experienced quite the unique leadup to London: in 2009, at the interim Olympic cycle's first of two world championships, he won three titles and broke both his 100m and 200m world records; but at the second, in 2011, he false-started in the 100m and was disqualified.
In the 100m facing compatriots Asafa Powell, former world record-holder, and Yohan Blake, winner of that 100m at 2011 worlds; as well as Americans Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin, respectively the 2007 world and 2004 Olympic 100m champions; Bolt took care of business, winning in an Olympic-record 9.63.
10 | Opening Ceremony, 2016 Rio Games
Michael Phelps - Flag Bearer
American swimmer Michael Phelps entered the 2016 Rio Games already the most decorated athlete in Olympic history with 22 total medals – and he'd add six more there, five of them gold, to retire with 28 total.
But before he got to work at his fifth Games, Phelps served as the United States' Opening Ceremony flag bearer, a prestigious honor bestowed upon an athlete of Team USA's aggregate choosing.
Phelps followed in the recent footsteps of fencer Mariel Zagunis at the 2012 London Games, distance runner Lopez Lomong at the 2008 Beijing Games and basketball player Dawn Staley at the 2004 Athens Games.
11 | Helen Maroulis, 2016 Rio Games
Gold - Freestyle 53 kg/116 lbs.
At the 2016 Rio Games, Helen Maroulis became the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling. And she did it by defeating three-time Olympic gold medalist and 13-time world champion Yoshida Saori at 53 kg.
Maroulis won the 2015 world 55 kg title before Rio and the 2017 world 58 kg title after her gold, going 78-1 overall among three different weight classes over the period. She's faced injuries since, and because of some even briefly retired.
Women's freestyle wrestling made its Olympic debut at the 2004 Athens Games. In addition to Maroulis' gold the U.S. has won four others – one sliver and three bronze. If Maroulis can make the podium in Tokyo she'll become the first woman to win multiple.
12 | Katie Ledecky, U.S. Swim Trials in 2021
1st - 1500m Freestyle Final
Less than an hour and a half after winning the 200m final at U.S. trials, Katie Ledecky returned to the pool and smashed the competition in the 1500m freestyle, lowering a meet record she'd set during the prelims down from 15:43.10 to 15:40.50.
Her 1500m win qualified her for a third individual event in Tokyo — earlier she secured berths in the 400m and 200m freestyles, two events in which she won gold at the 2016 Rio Games. Later, she won the 800m freestyle, making it four individual events.
The victory was also a first for the U.S. trials, as the women's 1500m free makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo. But it surely isn't new for Ledecky, who's a three-time world champion in the event, having won the title in 2017, 2015 and 2013.
13 | Sydney McLaughlin, U.S. Track & Field Trials in 2021
1st - 400m Hurdles Final
Sydney McLaughlin was twice runner-up to separate world record-breaking performances in 2019 – U.S. and world championship title wins – by reigning Olympic 400m hurdles champion Dalilah Muhammad. But the tables would turn two years later at U.S. trials.
After posting the fastest overall times in both the first (54.07) and semifinal (53.03) rounds, McLaughlin entered the final as the slight favorite despite lining up against the best to ever run the event. It was finally her time to shine, and she capitalized triumphantly.
From lane six she shadowed in stagger Muhammad – in lane seven, who had a fast start – through 80% of the race until taking off with one set of hurdles to go, finishing in 51.90 to become the first women's 400m hurdler to ever break 52 seconds.
McLaughlin's win and world record further electrifies the upcoming, to-be-determined Tokyo showdown between the two Americans in what was already expected to be an incredible matchup. The pair owns each of the top four times run in history.