The most memorable social moments from 2016 Olympics

Story highlights

  • Rio Olympics puts spotlight on new Olympians like Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky
  • Strange moments like green pool and Ryan Lochte's escapade also brought questions

(CNN)Rio wasn't a big disaster like many had predicted. It came packed with thrills and controversies that got people talking.

The games in Rio shattered several records and introduced a new generation of Olympic stars like Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky and Fu Yuanhi. Here's a look back at some of those triumphant moments as well as the bizarre ones.


    The opening ceremony introduced us to Tonga's flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua who made quite the entry with his well-lacquered torso.
    In case you missed him in the opening, he made it back for the closing ceremony in shiny fashion.

    Ticked off

    Michael Phelps stared down South African rival Chad le Clos, whom he ended up defeating. The steely glare gave birth to meme #Phelpsface.


    CNN catches up with Simone Biles
    CNN catches up with Simone Biles


      CNN catches up with Simone Biles


    CNN catches up with Simone Biles 02:06
    Simone Biles proved unstoppable in Rio. She led her US teammates to a gold for team and took home five medals including the women's individual all-around. Her accomplishments and her fun-filled social media adventures won her tons of accolade.

    Just green

    The Olympic diving pool turned a mysterious shade of green, sending puzzled Twitter users into a frenzy. What was going on in that pool?
    Team GB's diving star Tom Daley wondered, "what happened?"
    Officials said that algae was to blame, and that there was no need to worry as the water quality "was tested and there were no risks for the athletes." Alrighty then.


    Chinese swimmer praised for challenging taboo
    Chinese swimmer praised for challenging taboo


      Chinese swimmer praised for challenging taboo


    Chinese swimmer praised for challenging taboo 01:05
    Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhi, delighted the Internet by pulling a series of funny face to express how happy she was at securing a bronze medal in the women's 100m backstroke.
    Fu became an overnight sensation in China after her exuberant -- and at times hilarious -- answers in post-competition interviews on state television. She also broke a taboo by talking about her period.


    Leslie Jones scored an invite to the Olympics after delighting Twitter with her very quotable commentary. NBC brought the actress and comedian to join their broadcast efforts.


    Usain Bolt's smile cracks up the Internet
    Usain Bolt's smile cracks up the Internet


      Usain Bolt's smile cracks up the Internet


    Usain Bolt's smile cracks up the Internet 01:48
    As Usain Bolt breezed past his competition, he had time to flash a giant, winning smile.


    Rio Olympics 2016: Why all the empty seats?
    Rio Olympics 2016: Why all the empty seats?


      Rio Olympics 2016: Why all the empty seats?


    Rio Olympics 2016: Why all the empty seats? 01:30
    Empty seats could be seen at many Olympic venues, most notably at the track and field stadium. Although organizers offered some explanations, the #emptyseats issue persisted throughout the Games.


    Abbey D'Agostino of the US (R) hugs New Zealand's Nikki Hamblin after the women's 5000m heats.
    When New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin competed in the 5,000 meters race, she stumbled and fell, accidentally tripping Abbey D'Agostino of the US. They helped each other up and the American was later taken away in a wheelchair. But the sportsmanship displayed by the two runners proved memorable.


    Kids who grew up idolizing Michael Phelps ended up becoming their own stars.
    Katie Ledecky, 19, broke a few records and took home five medals. She got a photo taken with Phelps when she was 10 years old. This time around, it was Phelps getting her autograph.
    Singapore's Joseph Schooling beat his childhood idol, Phelps, in the 100-meter butterfly, becoming the first Singaporean athlete to win a gold in the Games. Flashback to the time he was just a kid lining up to get Phelps' autograph.


    The strange saga of Ryan Lochte continued long after he flew back to the US. Two of his teammates were pulled off a plane bound for the United States for further questioning as Brazilian authorities found several inconsistencies in Lochte's story.
    Later, Lochte attributed his fabrication about a robbery to "immature behavior" and said he was "110% sorry." Social media was not so forgiving.

    A photo posted by Ryanlochte (@ryanlochte) on


    Ethiopia's Feyisa Lilesa crossed his arms above his head at the finish line.
    Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia finished the Olympic marathon in second place with his arms crossed over his head, as a sign of solidarity for the Oromo people, his native group and the largest ethnic group in the country. By speaking out, he may not be able to go home.


    Another Olympics, another flurry of criticism for NBC.
    Blasted for being sexist, archaic and reliant on tape delay and packages, viewers tuned out of NBC's primetime coverage of the Olympics. The Olympics are still clearly must-see TV for a wide swath of the United States, but NBC saw weaker ratings as the Olympic winded down.


    Before we say goodbye to Rio, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wanted to remind you where the next summer games will be.
    Abe made an epic entry popping out of a Super Mario green pipe dressed as the video game character to tell you to tune in for Tokyo 2020.