If there’s one thing we know about the Olympic Games, it’s that you should never rule out the underdog.
Ahmed Hafnaoui is an 18-year-old swimmer from Tunisia. At the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan, the teen barely squeaked by in the qualifying race, coming in last among the eight qualifiers for the final. If he’d been just .14 seconds slower, he would have been eliminated.
The young athlete has been working hard during the pandemic. Before, he hadn’t even registered among the top 100 swimmers worldwide, but by the time he headed to Tokyo, he was ranked at 16. Still, no one expected him to qualify for the race, much less win a medal.
Ahmed started the final 400-meter freestyle in the outside lane. He went into the event not thinking about winning, telling himself to just “go faster than yesterday.”
That’s when something completely unexpected — and 100 percent magical — happened!
He slowly started to pull away from the competition. Back at home in Tunisia, his family had gathered to watch him race. As their boy began to edge out the other swimmers, their cheering reached a fever pitch!
In the end, Ahmed overtook Australian swimmer Jack McLoughlin by just 14-hundredths of a second. Jack took the silver medal, while Team USA’s Kieran Smith earned the bronze. As for Ahmed, he didn’t even realize he’d won the gold until he popped out of the water to see his time of 3:43.36. The look on his face is the stuff Olympic dreams are made of!
He immediately let out a series of loud yells and pumped his fist in the air. The only people who were possibly even more excited about his victory were his friends and family members back home!
A video of their reaction features screams of unfettered joy and excitement, and it’s going viral as the best “feel-good” family moment to emerge from the games so far.
According to Olympic history, Ahmed is just the second Tunisian to ever win a gold medal!
You just can’t beat the enthusiasm of his loved ones as he shocked the world with his incredible comeback! Congratulations on your big win, Ahmed!
Watch his family members go wild with joy in the video below, and don’t forget to share this story.
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