A Brazilian swimmer's triumphant Olympic bronze medal celebration brought an iconic meme to life

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A Brazilian swimmer's triumphant Olympic bronze medal celebration brought an iconic meme to life
Bruno Fratus jubilantly celebrates winning his first-ever Olympic medal on Monday. Xu Chang/Xinhua via Getty Images
  • Brazilian swimmer Bruno Fratus has drawn attention online after reenacting an iconic 2020 meme.
  • He gleefully celebrated his bronze medal win at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
  • As in the meme, Fratus bit on his medal, kissed his wife, and pumped his fists in celebration behind the less-animated silver and gold medalists.

As US swimmer Caeleb Dressel finished the men's 50-meter freestyle and claimed his fourth gold medal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, another athlete thrashed in the water beside him, joy plastered on his face as he pumped his fists in the air.

Bruno Fratus was ecstatic. It didn't matter to him that he came in third - the Brazilian was just happy to have finally won his first-ever Olympic medal. Though well-decorated in other swimming competitions, he missed out on an Olympic accolade in both the Rio and London games.

At age 32, Fratus is the oldest Olympic swimmer to win their first medal, according to SwimSwam magazine.

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His jubilant celebration on Monday has caught attention for its near-exact reenactment of an iconic meme.

Known as "Third Place" or "Bronze Medal," the meme features a man biting a medal, flipping off spectators, kissing the woman who gave him the award, and spraying champagne around furiously, only for the final frame to reveal that he came in third place. It has been widely used to poke fun of situations where people celebrate their seemingly mediocre achievements.

A side-by-side comparison on Twitter captured Fratus doing several of these things. Photos show the swimmer biting fervently on his bronze medal and smooching his wife (who is also his coach) in an identical pose.

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More notably, he is visibly more excited than gold medal-winning and silver medalist France's Florent Manaudou.

"Seeing how hard it is being an athlete in Brazil, you understand even more his happiness. We're so proud of him and everyone who made it to Tokyo," wrote one Twitter user reacting to the meme comparison.

"Meme status: Legendary," said another.

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It is unclear if Fratus was aware of the meme or if he tried to reenact it on purpose. In a post-race interview with Portuguese channel SPORT TV, he said he was being honest and did not fake his emotions.

According to contributor site KnowYourMeme, the meme originated from a comic created in 2020 by a Russian sketch artist, who titled it "Never Give Up!". The comic circulated on Reddit and Imgur before edited versions started emerging as a template for memes involving anything from Christopher Columbus to Star Wars.

Fratus did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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