It’s not always the big names and Blue Riband events.
At the Olympic Games, small moments and unknown background stories can suddenly reverberate much further before the eyes of the world.
BBC Sport pulled together ten times when the Olympics showed that courage, love and compassion don’t stop when the gun is fired.
1. Chris Hoy bows with gold
Great Britain encountered the richest gold seam in the London Velodrome in 2012.
A total of seven gold medals landed on the pine boards of the velodrome, almost twice as many as any other venue.
And maybe the best came last. 36-year-old Chris Hoy, who had already announced that he would not compete in the fifth games, won the keirin and became Britain’s most successful Olympic competitor with six gold medals.
“I recognized the faces of the people when I stood on the podium”, he said looking back on 2014.
“There were team-mates, coaches, supervisors, families, other drivers from other countries. They caught people’s eyes and realized that this was the end of the most incredible journey.”
2. Strug lands miracle vault
The American women’s gymnastics team came to Atlanta in 1996 as the Magnificent Seven – an outstanding group that was finally able to challenge the Russian team, which had won the last two all-round titles in various forms.
In the final lap it appeared that the Americans had won by a comfortable 0.897 points over their rivals.
However, a series of slides and falls on the vault meant the gold could slide away.
18-year-old Kerri Strug was the last American woman who could jump. On her first attempt, she landed awkwardly and landed on her bum, twisting her ankle in the process.
With a pain in her face, she knew that if her country were to win gold, she would have to jump and land again.
She did. Hopping in pain as she greeted the judges, she then crawled off the mat and had to be carried to the medal podium.
“The Olympic Games are about more than gold medals” she said in 2012.
“It’s about the human mind, heart and drive that many athletes and people in general have.”
3. “Emotions, emotions, my goodness”
For many years, John Inverdale had seen it all.
But the veteran broadcaster struggled before it even began interviewing Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase.
The pair had to help up the steps from the pontoon to the media area, so much effort they had put in in a brave but unsuccessful attempt to hold off their Danish rivals in the lightweight double scull final in London 2012.
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“I’m just sorry for everyone we failed,” Hunter said into the microphone.
“You haven’t let anyone down,” Inverdale interjected, her voice clearly trembling.
4. A father’s love
Derek Redmond felt in good shape in the 1992 Barcelona 400m semi-final so he decided to work a little harder to get a better final draw.
However, his hamstring failed, leaving him stretched out on the track.
His father Jim, who was watching in the stadium, jumped from the stands to comfort his son, only to find that Derek was determined to finish.
Various officers tried to stop the two as they slowly made their way to the line, Derek hobbled and cried more and more. Jim left her behind for a moment.
“I had never heard my father with four-letter words” said Derek. “I learned a few new ones.”
5. Freeman hoists the flag
Cathy Freeman’s 2000 Sydney win was not for one nation but for two.
Her grandmother was one of the “Stolen Generations,” one of more than 100,000 Aboriginal children who were taken from their parents as part of a governmental program of forced assimilation.
After winning gold at the 1994 Commonwealth Games, she wore both the Australian and Aboriginal flags on her winning laps. The team’s chief de mission told her she would be sent home if she repeated her party.
When the year 2000 came, she was the face of the games, her image shrouding skyscrapers and shining on the television screens.
She carried the pressure to win gold and once again celebrated with the Australian and Aboriginal flags.
6. Ali returns to the Olympic stage
Thirty-six years earlier, Muhammad Ali had fascinated an Olympic audience with his balletic agility and blurred hand speed and won gold in Rome in 1960.
At the opening ceremony in Atlanta in 1996, Ali, who had Parkinson’s disease, lit the Olympic flame with a rigid face and trembling hands.
Between the two moments, Ali had become one of the most important cultural figures of the time, advocating civil rights and peace.
7. ‘I love you mom’
Gemma Gibbons didn’t really realize she’d made her gesture until a lot of reporters asked her about it.
It was just a second. It could easily have been overlooked. The camera almost made it.
After beating World Champion Audrey Tcheumeo in the -78kg semi-final in London in 2012, the British judoka looked at the ceiling with tears in her eyes and said “I love Mum”.
Gibbons’ mother Jeanette had died of leukemia eight years earlier when Gemma was 17 years old.
“I don’t know why I did it, it just came out with all these emotions”, she said in 2020.
“My mother played a big part in making me the judo player I made. She sacrificed a lot and I was and still am so grateful for it.”
8. Steiner pays tribute to the podium
The German Matthias Steiner was on the bronze medal when he took to the stage in the men’s + 105kg class, with a considerable deficit of 10kg on the leader.
He could easily not have been there.
The year before, his wife had died when a driver hit her car head-on.
“I had to make a decision whether to just stop lifting or continue,” he said in 2014.
“I realized that what had happened wouldn’t change even if I stopped.”
He went on, climbed to the last elevator, and lifted it high above his head to grab gold.
He posed on the podium with his medal in one hand and the photo of his wife Susann in the other.
“I just wanted to show the world that I didn’t want to stand up there alone,” he said.
9. Love on the Olympic podium
For some it was a beautiful moment of young love.
The Chinese He Zi had won silver in the three-meter springboard and had just run off the podium after the award ceremony when she turned around to find her friend Qin Kai next to her.
Clutching a diamond ring and a glass-wrapped rose, he held back tears as he got down on one knee to propose.
Zi swelled and nodded to the cheers of the crowd.
However, other viewers were not moved in the same way with some of Qin’s charges Tor-crash the moment of individual glory of his fiancée.
10. Tears on the streets of Athens
The British Paula Radcliffe came to the Greek capital as a world record holder and hot favorite in the marathon.
Unfortunately, the conditions were similarly warm.
The course started in the village that gave the event its name before climbing in slope and temperature.
Radcliffe never made it to the finish at the Panathinaiko Stadium, instead stopping briefly three miles, slumped on a sidewalk and in tears.
“The worst that could have happened to her had happened,” wrote Radcliffe’s trainer and husband Gary Lough
“I put my arms around her, but I couldn’t say anything. She was deaf. It was as if part of us had died, or at least part of our life. “