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Medalling kids Tokyo Olympics produced some magical and wacky moments despite pandemic gloom

Among the gold winners there were also the bed jumpers, goggle losers, crab catchers ...and kids who now rule the world

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Lydia Jacoby

Lydia Jacoby

Rhys McClenaghan

Rhys McClenaghan

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IT may have been a year late due to the pandemic, but Tokyo 2020 was well worth the wait - the Olympic Games have been a joy to watch for the past three weeks.

Despite pretty much empty ­stadiums, there were thrills to keep viewers at home on the edge.

Ahead of today's closing ceremony we look at the weird, wild and wonderful moments from this year's Games.

ANTI-SEX BEDS

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Rhys McClenaghan

Rhys McClenaghan

Rhys McClenaghan


WHEN athletes arrived at their quarters they discovered the beds seemed to be made of recycled cardboard.

American distance runner Paul ­Chelimo sent speculation rife when he tweeted the beds were perhaps "aimed at avoiding intimacy among athletes".

The beds were soon labelled on social media as "anti-sex".

But numerous athletes, including our own gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, showed their followers that the beds were made of sturdy stuff and jumped vigorously up and down on them, with the shirtless Newtownards man ­jokingly labelling it as "fake news".

The official Olympics Twitter account reposted Rhys's video, adding: "Thanks for debunking the myth."

Rhys had more luck staying on his bed though, than on his pommel horse, as, despite being an early favourite to win gold, he slipped off and came seventh.

TRIATHLON LEAP FRIGHTS

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The triathlon was already a daunting ­prospect before it even began, with a 6.30am start to beat the heat - which still hit 33 degrees Celsius during the race - with the swim 1500 metres, followed by a 40km bike ride and then a 10km run.

No wonder many of the competitors were forced to vomit and others ended up recovering in wheelchairs.

But before all that there was a false start when a media boat filming the event appeared to obstruct half of the competitors from jumping into the water, with half diving in and the other half left hanging on for fear of hitting the boat.

Officials decided it was an invalid start, with Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway winning the men's version in a time of one hour and 45 seconds (of the 55 competitors Ireland's Russell White finished 48th).

PLUCKY AMERICAN TEEN LOSES GOGGLES AND STILL WINS A GOLD

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Lydia Jacoby

Lydia Jacoby

Lydia Jacoby

US swimmer ­Lydia Jacoby was ­already nervous at 17 when she was chosen for the first ever 4x100 mixed medley relay.

But the plucky teen faced an even more mammoth battle when, just as she dived in, her goggles slipped down her face over her mouth for the entire race.

Lydia still swam an impressive 1:05:09 in her 100-metre breaststroke and while the US finished fifth she was the only woman in that discipline, which was won by Britain.

Had her goggles slipped in the freestyle, Lydia would have been forced to keep her eyes open underwater so as not to guess how close she would have been to the wall. In better news the Alaskan won gold in the individual 100 metre breaststroke.

WRONG-WAY WARE FOOTLOOSE AND HER HOPES TAKE ­NOSEDIVE

When Canadian Pamela Ware took part in the 3m springboard final she suffered a worse-case scenario for any diver.

She had a misstep on her approach, which forced her to abort her last dive and jump into the water going feet first. The 28-year-old ­obviously did not have her rhythm down and tried something like an amateur plunge and did not make the final (which was won by China).

"What we do in the competition is just a tiny fraction of what we actually do to get to where we are," Ware said in a video ­afterwards, ­revealing how she could have risked serious injury if she had ­attempted that dive.

SKATEBOARD TEENS TRIUMPH BUT WINNING 'NOT ABOUT AGE'

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The next time you see kids skateboarding in the park just think that one day one of them could be an Olympian.

It made its debut at the Tokyo Olympics and a 13-year-old Japanese girl won gold in the women's street skateboarding event. In fact, the combined age of all three medal winners was just 42.

"I'm simply very, very delighted. I am so happy," Momiji Nishiyama, one of the youngest ever Olympic champions, said afterwards, adding that her success had "nothing to do with her age."

SECOND PLACE ROWERS TAKE THE PLUNGE TO 'CATCH A CRAB'

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A Norwegian rowing pair suffered a bizarre exit from Olympic medal contention after they capsized while in second place in a semi final, with just 500 metres to go.

The incident in the lightweight men's double sculls happened after what is called catching a crab - a rowing term for losing control of an oar.

The two men were forced to cling on to their capsized boat and wait to be plucked from the water by lifeguards.

US CHAMP BOWS OUT OVER LOSS BUT HAS MEDAL-WINNING RETURN

STANDING just 4ft 8in tall, American Simone Biles is widely considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time, and she was heavily tipped to sweep the boards in Tokyo, having already won 31 Olympic and world championship medals.

The 24-year-old had bravely opened up in the past about how she had grown up hungry in a poor family, ending up in care and was later sexually abused by a coach, who she then helped to expose.

But she dropped a bombshell when she pulled out of several events, citing mental health reasons.

The girl from Ohio then bravely ­returned to win bronze in the balance beam, which was all the more remarkable, given that she revealed two days prior to the final that she had suffered the unexpected loss of an aunt.

US GET DREAM TEAM NIGHTMARE AS THE FRENCH BAG THE BASKET

AMERICA may be considered the kingpins of world basketball, but the US suffered a shock 83-76 loss to France in their first group game, suffering their first Olympics loss in 17 years.

The Americans are famous for their 'Dream Team', and their side is peppered with top professional names, who have been allowed to enter the Olympics since the 1992 games in Barcelona.

AUSSIE SWIM COACH WINS GOLD FOR HIS FRENZIED CELEBRATION

WHEN Ariarne Titmus won gold for ­Australia in the women's 400m freestyle, it was not just the 20-year-old swimmer who was delighted. Her coach Dean Boxall was seen wildly celebrating his charge's defeat of five-time American gold medallist Katie Ledecky.

His frenzied reaction saw him ­jump like a rock star in the ­spectator's area, throwing his fists in the air, tearing his mask off and hip-thrusting against a see-through barrier.

NO MEDAL AS THE WEIGHT IS OVER FOR TRANSGENDERS AT GAMES

NEW Zealander Laurel Hubbard made history as the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the Olympic Games but her eagerly anticipated ­appearance bombed when she ­exited the women's +87kg weightlifting ­competition without registering a lift.

The 43-year-old, who transitioned to become a woman in 2012, smiled through the introductory line-up but struggled on stage, failing on her initial snatch lift of 120kg, and again at 125kg.

When she failed on her second attempt at the same weight, she made a heart shape with her hands before saying goodbye to the Olympics (China won the final).

EVEN WORLD'S GREATEST KNOW THAT SHARING CAN BE CARING

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WINNING a gold medal is, of course, every Olympians dream, however, when it is achieved in a moving act of camaraderie it can truly evoke the original spirit of the ancient games.

When two high jumpers gave gold medal performances nothing seemed to ­separate them so they decided that both of them deserved the medal.

Mutaz-Essa Barshim from Qatar and Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi both had high jumps of 2.37 metres. They each attempted to beat that and clear 2.39 metres and failed on their first try.

They could have gone into a jump-off, each taking turns until they beat the score. But instead, Barshim asked if they could share the gold, to which Tamberi agreed.

When a judge said they could indeed share the gold medal, the Italian high jumper excitedly embraced Barshim and then ran around the stadium. When the duo took to the winners' platform, they each placed a gold medal around each other's neck.

AFTER A 13-YEAR FIGHT DALEY DIGS DEEP AND WINS HIS GOLD

WHEN diver Tom Daley first appeared at Beijing 2008, at the age of just 14, he was one of Britain's youngest Olympians.

He would become one of the poster boys of the British team at London 2012, where he won bronze. And at Rio 2016 he won another bronze in the ­synchronized 10m platform.

Amidst all this, Daley initially came out as bisexual and later married American director Dustin Lance Black, with whom he would also have a baby.

In Tokyo Daley teamed up with Matty Lee in the synchronised 10m platform. During a nail-biting finale against a Chinese duo, the Brits managed to win gold, with Daley leaping into Lee's arms.

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