The Tokyo Olympics are finally here! Check out some of the historical moments that have already taken place at this year’s games.
An Unforgettable Moment To Start The Games
Despite the pandemic’s somber cloud hanging over the Olympics, the Opening Ceremony brought the world together in spectacular fashion. As each country’s athletes walked into the stadium, there was growing anticipation as to who would light the cauldron that would burn throughout the games. (Side note: If you didn’t already know, that person is kept top secret until the final relay of the torch, and more times than not, it’s a former Olympic athlete or someone who represents the Olympic values from the host country.) When the torch made its way around the last leg of the relay, professional tennis player Naomi Osaka appeared before the crowd-less stadium, walked up the stairs leading to the cauldron, and lit it for the world to see. It was a fitting choice for the games. Osaka, one of the most-recognized tennis stars in the world, is at the top of her professional career and recently highlighted the importance of mental health.
The Universal Language Of Pictograms
If you didn’t know it before, you’ll know it now. When Tokyo hosted the Olympics in 1964, Japan became the first Asian country ever to host the games. One of the main concerns of hosting a global event was communication. How would athletes from around the world communicate with each other if they didn’t speak the same language? That’s when the organizers came up with the idea of pictograms. Since then, host countries have used pictograms to depict different sports. As a way of celebrating the pictogram during the opening ceremony, three people dressed in blue and white and posed as the various pictograms created for the thirty-three different Olympic sports.
It Was A Brother/Sister Thing
Siblings Hifumi and Uta Abe made history when they both won gold on the same day in the same sport. Younger sister Uta beat France’s Amandine Buchard in the women’s 52kg judo division to win gold. A few minutes later, older brother Hifumi won gold when he beat Georgia’s Vazha Margvelashvili in the men’s 66kg judo division. It was a double celebration for the Abe family!
Thirteen-Year-Olds Rock At Skateboarding
Some people may think that the number thirteen is bad luck, but that certainly wasn’t the case when it came to the skateboarding street event at the Tokyo Olympics. During this inaugural skateboarding event, thirteen-year-olds Momiji Nishiya of Japan and Rayssa Leal of Brazil took home the gold and silver medals, respectively, beating out older competitors at the world’s biggest sporting event.
Mental Health First
Gymnast Simone Biles surprised the world when she withdrew from the gymnastics team competition. When asked why, Biles said that she was struggling emotionally and that the pressure of the Tokyo Olympics took a toll on her. While her decision to step away from the team competition shocked everyone, her teammates rallied behind her and gave it their best to win the silver medal. Biles later announced that she wouldn’t be competing in the Individual all-around competition either.
It Took Nearly A Hundred Years
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines won gold, making her the first person from the Philippines to win a medal at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. What made this win even more special for both Diaz and the Philippines? It’s the first medal that an athlete from the Philippines has won in a Summer Olympics in nearly a hundred years!
Retiring After Eight Olympics
Not many gymnasts can say that they can still compete on vault at forty-six years old, but eight-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina can and did. After attempting two vaults at the Tokyo Olympics, she officially announced her retirement from the sport. When she took her final bow at the Olympics (she failed to qualify for the finals), she received a standing ovation from the crowd.
A Golden Moment In Swimming
After a few disappointing finishes, American swimmer Katie Ledecky made history when she won gold in the first ever women’s 1,500 meter freestyle event at the Olympic Games. What got her through the event? Ledecky thought of her grandparents—the toughest people she knows.
3×3 Basketball Made Its Way To The Olympics
This year, the Olympics introduced a new event within the sport of basketball—3×3 basketball is often played at playgrounds and driveways but for the first time ever, it’s being played at the Olympics! The court is half the size of a full basketball court and instead of five players from each team, this game only needs three. Teams aim for the same basket and the entire game takes ten minutes (or when the first team reaches twenty-one points), rather than sixty. It’s fast-paced and intense but according to the organizers, it’s more relatable and representative of basketball being played around the world. We think 3×3 basketball is here to stay, do you?
First Hmong American To Win Gold
She’s only eighteen years old, but American gymnast Sunisa Lee can call herself an all-around Olympic gold medalist after her amazing performance on the four apparatuses (floor, vault, uneven bars, and beam) that make up the all-around competition. Although her family wasn’t there to help her celebrate in person, they cheered her on at home in Minnesota. When asked what got her through the competition, she said her teammates told her to just do what she does best.
What’s been your favorite moment at this year’s Olympics?