‘It Was Incredible’: Former Olympics Gold Medallist Recalls Watching Kobe Bryant Getting Mobbed at Beijing Olympics

Published 07/10/2021, 1:30 PM EDT
Kobe Bryant, USA, with his Gold Medal during the Men’s Basketball Final between USA and Spain at the North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Olympic games. London, UK. 12th August 2012. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)


Consider a Mensa Admission Test topper employed at Google getting overwhelmed by the world’s best technical minds working around her. Somewhat similar becomes the situation of respective National medalists when they reach the Olympic Village. They suddenly become part of the elite crowd that might have Kobe Bryant or LeBron James walking casually in joggers.

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In one such setting, it is easy for the champions to feel like fans and have an urge to pull out their smartphone for a memorable selfie. This is exactly what a former Olympics Gold Medalist experienced 13 years ago. 

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Bradley Wiggins and his Kobe Bryant fandom story

A British road and track cycling racer, Bradley Wiggins, was already an Olympic Gold winner when he participated in the Beijing Games. He was a notable figure in the cycling world and someone who would go on to win four successive Olympic Golds. Yet, his experience in the village was more like a distant fan than a celebrity figure.

In a recent interview with fellow Olympians, the retired racer shared his experience of having Kobe Bryant around. The 41-YO detailed, “Anytime I walked into the Olympic Village, waiting in the dining hall. I felt so small, the least of an athlete compared to everyone else, particularly as a cyclist coz everyone else was such low body fat… But seeing Kobe Bryant in the dining room in Beijing, mobbed by 50/60 people, it was incredible.”

Both Adam Gemili (Brit sprinter) and Andrew Pozzi (English athlete) reacted and shared their fan experience too. 

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When KB took Team USA’s Sue Bird by surprise in 2008 Olympics

The Beijing Olympics was particularly important for the Men’s Basketball Team of the US. After a forgetful Bronze at Athens 2004, they were the ‘Redeem Team’ going into the tournament. Plus, for Kobe, it was even more personal because he was coming off an NBA Finals loss and more criticism. 

So during those times in the village, American hooping legend Sue Bird met Kobe and tasted how the Mamba mentality worked.

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The 2002 #1 Draft pick detailed, “One night we were playing cards, he just came in and there was wine involved and he got very competitive with drinking the wine. He didn’t wanna be behind anybody on these glasses… Simultaneously, he opened a newspaper… there was a picture of Paul Pierce celebrating the Celtics win. He literally ripped out this picture, folded, and put it in his pocket. He was like, ‘it’s motivation for next year.’ But like dead serious.” 

The US women’s basketball team went on to win the Gold that summer. This just proved how having #24 around was such a thrilling experience for anyone and everyone. What a loss that he is no more with us. #MambaForever

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Watch this story – Lakers’ Kobe Bryant vs Cavaliers’ LeBron James Epic 2008 Duel

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Sourabh Singh

1424 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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