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American Sunisa Lee poses with a gold medal after she won the women’s all-around at the Olympic Games in Tokyo on Thursday.

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American Sunisa Lee poses with a gold medal after she won the women’s all-around at the Olympic Games in Tokyo on Thursday.

Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

This year’s Olympic Games were an event unlike any other so far. The continuing pandemic has changed so much, and the most noticeable is the ban on spectators, even for families who are forbidden to attend. However, despite these difficulties, athletes are breaking through the tracks and making history.

Some countries took home their first Olympic medals

The first week was the whirlpool of San Marino, a small country in southern Europe with only 34,000 inhabitants. (To put this into perspective, consider that Wyoming, the U.S. state with the smallest population in the country, has about 580,000 inhabitants). When Alessandra Perilli won a bronze medal in shooting traps for women on Thursday, San Marino became the smallest state to ever win a medal at the Games. Perilli’s medal is also the first Olympic medal in San Marino.

The first week of the Olympics was a big deal for the Philippines. Weightlifting Hidilyn Diaz won gold on Monday, for the first time for her country despite nearly 100 years of participation in the Games. And if that’s not worth your note enough, she also set an Olympic record in the process, lifting a total weight of 224 pounds, or about 493 pounds, on two elevators.

Fellow weightlifter Polina Guryeva has also made history in her country: her silver medal is the first Olympic medal Turkmenistan has won since gaining independence from the Soviet Union.

Filipina Hidilyn Diaz poses with a gold medal in weightlifting.

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Filipina Hidilyn Diaz poses with a gold medal in weightlifting.

Chris Graythen / Getty Images

This week, Bermuda won their first gold medal at the Games. Flora Duffy made money first place in the women’s singles triathlon on Tuesday, making her island proud. It wasn’t an easy endeavor either: individual triathlon includes swimming outdoors, cycling and running. Duffy came to victory more than 40 years after Bermuda took home their last Olympic medal: a 1976 heavyweight boxing bronze.

Gymnast Rebecca Andrade earned Brazil’s first medal in rhythmic gymnastics, taking home silver in the women’s all-around final after a fight multiple ACL injuries in recent years. Japan won its first gold in fencing after coming out on top in the men’s cotton final over Russia’s Olympic Committee.

Ugandan runners Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo took home a silver and bronze medal in the men’s 10,000m race, the first time Uganda has ever won a medal at the event. And Ma Long, which represents China, won gold for the second time in a row and for the fourth time in the men’s singles competition. He is first Olympian to a medal in two consecutive games in his discipline and is officially the most medalist athlete in his sport.

And this week, America had a lot of the first ones. The U.S. excelled for the first time in the women’s 10-meter synchronized diving on the platform as Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell won silver. Anastasia Zolotic, just 18, also earned the U.S. first gold medal in women’s taekwondo.

Meanwhile, Lee Kiefer, a 27-year-old swordsman, became the first American to win gold in individual foil fences; she is also the first asian american to win a gold medal in the sport of fencing, according to NBC News. William Shaner, a 20-year-old student, also went down in history as the first American to win gold in the men’s 10M air rifle category while setting an Olympic record.

Some athletes broke down barriers at the Games

Gymnast Sunisa Lee has made her hometown of St. Louis proud. Paul, Minn won gold at the singles all-around on Thursday. But even before she won gold, she already went down in history as the first Hmong American to represent her country on the U.S. Olympic team, and her supporters are moved to tears after her monumental victory.

She became American surfer Carissa Moore first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in his sport on Tuesday. However, it is obviously not strange to her that she went down in history, after she got her name the youngest world champion surfed when she was 18 years old.

Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto celebrates his victory with the flag of Japan during the men’s all-around finals, on the fifth day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto celebrates his victory with the flag of Japan during the men’s all-around finals, the fifth day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Japan experienced big victories on Wednesday: 19-year-old gymnast Daiki Hashimoto won gold in the men’s all-around after an extraordinary routine on horizontal bars earned her the victory. He is now the youngest to ever win that title. Meanwhile, brothers and sisters Hifumi Abe and Uta Abe won gold in judo the same day, something that had never been done before.

Also involved in these Olympics are the first openly non-binary athlete, Alana Smith, an American skateboarder. Their goal for the Games was “to be happy and be a visual show for people like me,” they said on Instagram mail.

Quinn, a member of the Canadian women’s soccer team, is one of the first openly transgender athletes to compete in the Olympics. From such a great achievement, they he said they feel “optimistic” that new changes are taking place. Along with Quinn is Chelsea Wolfe, a BMX rider who is the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the USA team. New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard was also the first trans athlete to ever qualify for the Olympics, and will make her debut on Monday.

It’s a big year to represent LGBTQ people at the Games: there are more open LGBTQ athletes at the Tokyo Games than at any Olympics before, according to Outsports. And they are won medals at a rate that would surpass many countries.

This year, important Olympic sports were presented

The Tokyo Games included four completely new sports and the return of two that have not been shown for more than a decade. Softball and baseball returned to the Olympics after 13 years, while skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and karate debuted at the Olympics.

That’s not easy process make a part for the Olympics; many popular sports do not take up space in the program. It was a big win for skateboarding especially, which has historically struggled to be categorized as a sport.

Momiji Nishiya from the Japanese team competes during the finals of the street race for women on the third day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

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Momiji Nishiya from the Japanese team competes during the finals of the street race for women on the third day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Thanks to the inclusion of skateboarding, Japan has reached a new milestone: 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya, who won first place in women’s street skating, is now the youngest gold medalist in her country.

Athletes set new world records at the Games.

Rowers Grace Prendergast and Kerry Gowler, originally from New Zealand, set a new world record during the women’s doubles semifinals on Thursday, after a pair from Greece broke their previous world record earlier that day. New Zealand rowers during the Games excelled in their sport: Emma Twigg took home gold in individual balls on Thursday and set an Olympic record while it was on her. Her victory is also first time New Zealand ever won a medal at this event.

Greece has also had great success in rowing. Stefanos Ntouskos won gold on Thursday in the individual competition first rowing with gold for Greece – and a new world record for Ntouskos.

For America, water polo player Maggie Steffens helped her team win against the Russian Olympic Committee and, in doing so, set a record of the most goals scored by a single player in the history of events with 49 goals.

Australian Emma McKeon posted two Olympic records: during the finals in the 100 meters freestyle and again during the semifinals for women in the 50 meters freestyle. She also helped the Australian team set up a new world record during the 4x100m freestyle relay for women.

The first ones are on the way.

There are some more milestones on the way. For the first time ever, swimmers will swim in the same race at the Olympics, competing with each other in the mixed mixed relay final on Saturday (although technically both sexes had already swum together in the preliminary qualifiers on Thursday).

There will also be a mixed relay in the athletics category on Saturday, the first event of its kind in the history of the Olympic Games. Sprinter Allyson Felix from USA is one to watch: if he wins just one more gold, he will have it set a new record. With nine gold medals, she and Jamaican Merlene Ottey currently have more than any other Olympian in history.


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