Tunisian swimmer Ahmed Hafnaoui stunned the world on Sunday when the 18-year-old won the gold medal in the 400m freestyle. The only thing better than seeing a shocking medal in the pool was witnessing his family react to it.
Hafnaoui wasn’t supposed to win gold. Heck, he wasn’t even in the conversation for a medal. He barely qualified for the final, edging his way in and drawing lane No. 1, a killer position in competitive swimming. Not only do you have less visibility of your competition in an outer lane, but have to contend with “wall effects,” the cumulative result of numerous swimmers having their wake wash against the edges of the pool.
Flanked by faster swimmers and concrete, Hafnaoui did the impossible, beating out Australia’s Jack McLoughlin and Kieran Smith of the USA to claim gold.
It’s easy to get jaded about the Olympics, especially this year. The global pandemic, the internal politics and money that make the games run. Moments like this bring it all back to what really matters. Heroes made overnight, in events nobody thought they could win, bringing glory to their country and making their families so overwhelmed with emotion they can’t hold a phone still while recording victory.
This is the best moment of the games so far.