Tokyo 2020: Here are some of the monumental first-time events we saw taking place at the Olympics.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Games was postponed to 23 July-8 August 2021. Featuring 33 sports at 339 events across 41 venues, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics had its share of historical firsts, emotional moments and odds-defying wins. It has also witnessed the debut of sports like climbing, karate, skateboarding and surfing. But that’s not all. With 49 per cent of women competing this year, the Tokyo Games has been labelled as the first gender-balanced Olympics by the International Olympics Committee. This year also saw diversity and inclusion, where people from non-binary and transgender communities united under the umbrella of competitive spirit.
Here are some of the monumental firsts we saw at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
- Tokyo beat Istanbul in the second and final round of voting to become the only Asian city to host the Olympics twice. The Japanese capital also received the highest number of votes in the first round.
- Anna Kiesenhofer made Austria proud by winning a gold medal in the women‘s cycling road race. This is the nation‘s first medal in cycling since the commencement of the modern Olympics in 1896.
- Turkmenistan’s Polina Guryeva made history by bringing home a silver medal — the country’s first Olympic medal since its independence from the Soviet Union — in the women’s 59kg weightlifting event.
- Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito became the first non-Chinese players since 2004 to win gold in the table tennis competition. The duo defeated China’s Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen to claim their win in the mixed doubles title.
- After winning a bronze in the women’s individual 3m springboard event, Krysta Palmer became the first American woman to bag a medal since the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Twenty-one years ago, Laura Wilkinson had struck gold for her country.
- Thirteen-year-old Momiji Nishiya made Japan proud as her hard work bore fruit in the women’s street skateboarding event. She became the first gold medalist in the newly-launched street skateboarding category. The teenager is Japan’s youngest-ever Olympic medalist.
- Team USA’s Carissa Moore became the first woman to win a gold medal in surfing as the sport makes its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She defeated South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag in the women’s surfing competition.
- Making India proud was the country’s very first fencer to be at the Games. CA Bhavani Devi impressed all with her confident win against Tunisia’s Nadia Ben Azizi. She, however, lost the subsequent bout against France’s Manon Brunet.
- Rebeca Andrade became the first Brazilian woman to win a medal for her country by clinching silver in the women’s artistic gymnastics all-around final. A few days later, she soared to bag the first gold won by a Brazilian woman in the vault category.
- Anastasija Zolotic went down in history as the first American woman to win Olympic gold in Taekwondo. Competing in the women’s 57kg Taekwondo event, she defeated ROC’s Tatiana Minina.
- Japan’s Abe Uta and her brother Abe Hifumi won gold medals in judo. While Uta registered her win in the women’s 52kg competition, Hifumi bested his opponent in the men’s 60kg category. They are the first siblings to win gold in separate categories on the same day.
- Fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long made Hong Kong proud as he bested Italy’s Daniele Garozzo in the men’s foil individual fencing, bringing home the region’s first gold since the territory’s handover to China in 1997.
- The Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz put her best foot forward in the women’s 55kg weightlifting category and bagged a gold medal — a first for the nation in almost 100 years.
- 2021 proved to be a landmark year in the history of LGBTQ representation with the inclusion of USA’s Alana Smith and New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard. While non-binary athlete Smith competed in the skateboarding event, weightlifter Hubbard was the first transgender ever to qualify for the Olympics.
- India’s Neeraj Chopra etched his name in history as he secured the country’s first-ever gold medal in athletics. Chopra beat Czech Republic throwers Jakub Vadlejch and Vítězslav Veselý in men’s javelin throw. He is only the second Indian to earn an individual gold at the Olympics. Shooter Abhinav Bindra secured the first individual gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Men’s 10 metre air rifle competition.
- Tamyra Mensah-Stock won gold in women’s 68kg freestyle wrestling. She became the first Black American woman to earn gold in this category.
- Along with being the first Hmong American to represent her country, Teenager Sunisa Lee is also the first Hmong American Olympic gold medalist to win in the women’s gymnastics individual all-around category.
- Flora Duffy won the first-ever gold medal for Bermuda in the women’s individual triathlon competition. The Associated Press reported on 27 July that the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo could accommodate the entire island’s population estimated at 65,000.
Hero image: Jedd Pachoud/AFP; Hero image: Neeraj Chopra/Instagram
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia KL