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Looking back at the year: Moments of sportsmanship that defined 2021

Despite the tight competitions, wins, and losses, several instances stood up as exponents of sportsmanship. Here we look at some of the top such moments that stood out beyond the field of play:

Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi sharing Olympics gold (left); Virat Kohli hugs Muhammad Rizwan (right)

Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi sharing Olympics gold (left); Virat Kohli hugs Muhammad Rizwan (right)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 31 Dec 2021 3:30 AM GMT

Emerging from a challenging period when the coronavirus pandemic forced most sports events to be suspended, 2021 saw a broad recovery from restrictions, with major games such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and UEFA EURO 2020 finally held, even as the omicron variant led to a new tightening of rules as the year closed. Despite the tight competitions, wins, and losses, several instances stood up as exponents of sportsmanship. Here we look at some of the top such moments that stood out beyond the field of play:

Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi sharing Olympics gold

The duel between Olympic high jumpers Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy seemed destined to end in tears.

Round after round, the two star athletes simply could not outdo one another — prompting an official to tell them the next step was a "jump-off," to see who could simply outlast the other. But that's when things took a turn — one that quickly became a symbol of the sportsmanship and friendship the Olympics were designed to create.

"Can we have two golds?" Barshim, the reigning world champion in the event, asked the official. "It's possible, yes," the official replied — and that was all the athletes needed to hear.

Barshim, 30, and Tamberi, 29, slapped hands and hugged, celebrating an unlikely dual finish atop the podium. Even before conferring with the official, the pair had been in a tight hug, congratulating each other on bringing out their best at the Tokyo Olympics.

Virat Kohli hugging Mohammad Rizwan

Despite a tough defeat for India, the skipper of Indian men's cricket team Virat Kohli showed true sportsmanship after the 10-wicket loss, as he hugged Pakistan opener and wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan, who, along with his skipper Babar Azam, scripted a famous win for Pakistan in their T20 World Cup opener in Dubai.

Virat Kohli hugged Mohammed Rizwan following Pakistan's win over India (Source: PTI)

After Shaheen Shah Afridi's burst of 3/31 restricted India to 151/7, Rizwan (79* off 55 balls) and Babar (68* off 52) blunted the Indian attack to overhaul the target of 152 with 2.1 overs to spare. It was Pakistan's first win in 13 matches against India so far in the history of 50-over and T20I World Cups. But the moment that the fans will remember for a long time came after the players shook hands.

India captain Kohli walked up to Babar and Rizwan and first shook hands with Babar; and as Rizwan extended his hand, he shook hands with the Pakistan wicketkeeper and then hugged him and patted Rizwan on the head. Rizwan looked very happy to have been applauded by Kohli in this way. It's no secret that Kohli is an idol for many in the Pakistan squad as well.

Neeraj Chopra defending Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem

India's second individual Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra, whose javelin throw of 87.58 m ensured India's first-ever gold in athletics, was caught up in a controversy involving Pakistan's javelin star Arshad Nadeem.

-In one of his interviews, Neeraj said he could not locate his javelin before his first throw in the finals. A controversy erupted thereafter with some websites suggesting that Nadeem tried to tamper with Neeraj's javelin. Neeraj released a video on his social media page, issuing a clarification to put the controversy to rest, via his social media page, saying Nadeem had not done anything wrong or malicious.

Lotte Miller praising Claire Michel in Olympics triathlon

Olympian Lotte Miller was being praised online after she was spotted consoling fellow triathlete Claire Michel after she came last in the women's Olympic triathlon.

A whopping 55 athletes took part in the event on the large artificial island named Odaiba Marine Park, which was set up in Tokyo Bay specifically for the Olympics.

Twenty-one people ended up quitting the race which involved a 1.5-kilometer swim, forty kilometers of cycling, and a 10-kilometer run.

Flora Duffy, from Bermuda, bagged the gold medal, finishing the course in 1 hour, fifty-five minutes, and thirty-six seconds. British athlete Georgia Taylor-Brown finished second, earning her silver just over a minute behind Duffy, and U.S. Katie Zaferes took the bronze.

Lotte Miller praising Claire Michel in Olympics triathlon (Source: Getty)

Out of the total thirty-four competitors who managed to complete the track, Belgium's Claire Michel finished last, with a time of 2 hours, eleven minutes, and 5 seconds, almost an hour after Flora Duffy.

Michel instantly dropped to the floor after crossing the finish line. And Miller, from Norway, who finished twenty-fourth in the time of 2 hours, 2 minutes, and forty-three seconds, went over to make sure she was ok.

"You're a f***ing fighter," Miller told Michel, who was audibly crying.

"This is Olympic spirit, and you've got it 100%," Miller added.

Support poured in for Cristian Eriksen

The 15,000 spectators at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen let out a deafening chant in support of Denmark's Christian Eriksen shortly after the Danish midfielder collapsed during the Group stages of the 2020 European Championship.

Finland supporters began the chant, shouting "Christian," which was then answered by the Danish fans who shouted "Eriksen."

"Moments like this put everything in life into perspective. I wish Christian a full and speedy recovery and pray his family has strength and faith," UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said in a statement.

"At these times, the unity of the football family is so strong and he and his family carry with them the good wishes and prayers of everyone. I heard of fans of both teams chanting his name. Football is beautiful and Christian plays it beautifully."

Fans sat in silence as the match was suspended following Eriksen's medical emergency. The 29-year-old collapsed on the field before halftime where he laid unresponsive. It was first reported that Eriksen received CPR as his teammates surrounded him for privacy but Danish soccer federation director Peter Moeller later said that he got a "heart massage" while being treated on the field.

13-year-old Skateboarding Olympics medal winners

Japan's Momiji Nishiya, 13, made history when she brought home the first women's skateboarding Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Standing beside her on the podium was another 13-year-old Brazilian, Rayssa Leal, who earned silver in the event. Japanese skater Funa Nakayama, 16, took bronze.

The women's skateboarding final was a tremendous moment for these games as the youthful competitors displayed impressive tricks and savage wipeouts on a global stage. '

Simone Biles congratulating ROC gymnast

Simone Biles was reportedly among the first people to congratulate the Russian Olympic Federation athletes on their win in the gymnastics team final after she withdrew from the competition at Tokyo Olympics due to a "medical issue".

Footage of the gymnastics star going over to her fellow competitors to congratulate them on their win, and hugging them, was widely shared on social media with many praising the legendary gymnast for her sportsmanship.

Biles withdrew from the women's gymnastics team final in dramatic circumstances due to a "medical issue" after her opening vault.

USA Swimmers hugged South African gold medallist

South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker stunned Olympic viewers with her historic win in the women's 200-meter breaststroke. But what happened next was equally sweet.

The 24-year-old claimed both a gold medal and a new world record Friday: 2:18.95. She became the first woman to swim the event in under 2 minutes, 19 seconds, a record set in 2013. And by the looks of it, Schoenmaker also surprised herself. Broadcast cameras captured the moment she saw her results.

Tatjana Schoenmaker gets hugs from her competitors after clinching gold (Source: NPR)

That's when Team USA's Annie Lazor — who took home bronze — came over from the next lane to wrap Schoenmaker in a hug. They were soon joined by South Africa's Kaylene Corbett and American Lilly King.

Their sweet embrace warmed hearts around the world and across the internet. -

Indian cricket team sharing their experience with Scotland

Indian cricketers including ex-captain Virat Kohli and his deputy Rohit Sharma shared their 'priceless' experiences with the Scotland cricket team following their eight-wicket win in the Super 12 match of the T20 World Cup 2021. Besides Kohli and Rohit, other Indian stars like Jasprit Bumrah and Ravichandran Ashwin were also seen interacting with the Scottish players in their dressing room after the match on Friday night. "Huge respect to @imVkohli and co. for taking the time," Cricket Scotland tweeted.

PV Sindhu hugs Tai Tzu Ying

Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying, who crushed PV Sindhu's dream for an Olympic Gold medal in Tokyo, revealed how an incredible gesture by the Indian star shuttler had made her cry.

Tai Tzu Ying, who had to settle for a silver in the finals after losing to China's Chen Yufei in three games 18-21, 21-19, 18-21, took to social media to reveal that PV Sindhu's extraordinary gesture left her in tears.

She wrote, "Sharing a little story, I was satisfied with my performance after the game, and then Sindhu came over and hugged me, held my face, and told me: I know you're sick, you've already shown Good, just not your bureau today."

Tai continued, "Then she held me in her arms and said: She knew it all. The kind of sincere encouragement that made me cry.. It's really too sad because it's really hard to try."

The revelation by Tai shows the true character of the Indian star, who had to settle with a bronze medal. Here was a player, who had crushed her dreams for an Olympic Gold, and yet she was there to console her for losing the finals.

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