First Olympic memories: Athletes share the stories that ignited their love for the Games 

25 JUL 1992:  FIREWORKS EXPLODE HIGH ABOVE THE OLYMPIC STADIUM DURING THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 1992 BARCELONA OLYMPICS.
25 JUL 1992: FIREWORKS EXPLODE HIGH ABOVE THE OLYMPIC STADIUM DURING THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 1992 BARCELONA OLYMPICS.

With just one year to go until next year's Games, Tokyo 2020 asked athletes around the world about their very first memories of the Olympics. In the fourth of four features, Tokyo 2020 speaks to Maïva Hamadouche, Jonas Maciulis, Dolores Moreira, Nerea Pena and XIE Zhenye. 

Maïva Hamadouche, France, Boxing

IBF female junior-lightweight world title holder and Tokyo 2020 hopeful.

Thi Vuong (Red) of Vietnam fights against Maiva Hamadouche (Blue) of France in the Women's 57kg preliminary match during the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in 2012. The AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships 2012 were a London Olympic Games Qualifying Event (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
Thi Vuong (Red) of Vietnam fights against Maiva Hamadouche (Blue) of France in the Women's 57kg preliminary match during the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in 2012. The AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships 2012 were a London Olympic Games Qualifying Event (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
2012 Getty Images

She was only 17 and she performed at the highest level of swimming.

And she became an icon in France as a result of all of her titles.

"My best Olympic memory remains Laure Manaudou’s gold medal at Athens 2004. She was only 17 and she performed at the highest level of swimming. And she became an icon in France as a result of all of her titles. Of course it inspired me in my discipline, which is boxing, to go as high and as far as possible.

"You must keep trying and training hard to achieve all of those results. And Laure Manaudou was a role model at that time."

Maiva Hamadouche shares her first Olympic memory

Jonas Maciulis, Lithuania, Basketball

2015 EuroLeague champion and 2x FIBA Intercontinental Cup champion.

Jonas Maciulis #8 of the Lithuania Basketball Men's National Team reacts during 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup quarter-final match against Turkey (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Jonas Maciulis #8 of the Lithuania Basketball Men's National Team reacts during 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup quarter-final match against Turkey (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
2014 Getty Images

Every time I start thinking about the Olympic Games, I remember this song 'Barcelona'.

This is how I remember the first Olympic Games I watched on TV.

"Every time I start thinking about the Olympic Games, I remember this song 'Barcelona' because this is how I remember the first Olympic Games I watched on TV. This is how I remember it.

"I remember the Lithuanian national basketball team (who won bronze at Barcelona). It was just [speechless]. Thumbs up to all the players."

Dolores Moreira, Uruguay, Sailing

Competitor and Uruguay's flagbearer at the Rio 2016 Olympics and 2014 Summer Youth Olympics. She gained the quota for Tokyo 2020

Dolores Moreira Fraschini of Uruguay competes during the Women's Laser Radial Race 1 at Rio 2016   (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Dolores Moreira Fraschini of Uruguay competes during the Women's Laser Radial Race 1 at Rio 2016 (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
2016 Getty Images

Milton Wynants was a big thing for sports, beyond football.

At that time people looked away from football and focused on other sports for a moment.

"My first memory was Milton Wynants, who is a cyclist from Uruguay who won a medal at Sydney 2000. It was the last medal that Uruguay won at an Olympic Games. He is from my city, from Paysandú, so he is a local hero and obviously at school they made us do a lot of classwork about his career, the bike he used was exhibited...

"It was a big thing for sports, beyond football, because here football is obviously very important. At that time people looked away from football and focused on other sports for a moment. Nowadays, Milton Wynants is still a hero here. He is a genius and a great figure for us at the Olympics."

Dolores Moreira shares her first Olympic memory

Nerea Pena, Spain, Handball

Silver and bronze World Championship medallist. Silver European Championship medallist.

Nerea Abaurrea Pena and Carmen Berenguer Martin of Spain are looking dejected after losing the Women's Quarter-final match against France at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Nerea Abaurrea Pena and Carmen Berenguer Martin of Spain are looking dejected after losing the Women's Quarter-final match against France at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
2016 Getty Images

I have a very nice memory of all the Opening Ceremonies.

I think they are the most beautiful moments of the Games.

"The most outstanding memory I have of the Games is Sydney 2000. I remember that I was 11 years old, and I have that memory, especially of its Opening Ceremony: all those flames and all those lights in front of the Sydney Opera House… I found it impressive.

"I have a very nice memory, in general of all the Opening Ceremonies. I think they are the most beautiful moments of the Games. Being able to start the Games with that super cool show, usually with many fires, lights...

"In Rio, my first Olympics as an athlete, I could not go to the Opening Ceremony, and I would always have liked to have gone to one. My dream would be to be in Tokyo at the Opening Ceremony."

Nerea Pena shares her first Olympic memory

XIE Zhenye, People's Republic of China,Athletics

2x Olympian (London 2012 and Rio 2016) and current 200m Asian record holder.

Xie Zhenye of People's Republic of China celebrates after winning the 200m Men final race during the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Xie Zhenye of People's Republic of China celebrates after winning the 200m Men final race during the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
2019 Getty Images

Usain Bolt broke the world 100m and 200m records while the whole world was focusing on him.

His achievements during that Games lit my future path and set a goal for my future as well.

"There were two Olympic Games that impressed me deeply. The first one is Athens 2004, it was the first time that an East-Asian sprinter stood on the Olympic podium. The moment LIU Xiang wore the Chinese national flag inspired my love for athletics. It motivated me to run on the track.

"The other Olympic memory was Beijing 2008. Usain Bolt broke the world 100m and 200m records while the whole world was focusing on him. His achievements during that Games lit my future path and set a goal for my future as well. That’s why I’m working hard right now on the 100m and 200m.

"These two memories have affected my whole athletics career."

XIE Zhenye shares his first Olympic memory