Tokyo Olympics thrill all
Tokyo Olympics thrill all
The Tokyo Olympics saw many firsts, records broken, new events and even some controversies. Here is a recap of some of the highlights from the Games.
The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics was held on 23 July 2021 in Japan. The Olympics are held once every 4 years, with over 200 nations participating in them. After a delay of a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and amid much controversy, the Tokyo Games finally took place in a closed setting, with no spectators and fans from Japan or outside allowed to watch the Games in person.
Beyond the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the Tokyo Olympics will be remembered for many athletic achievements as well. It was a big year for India as Neeraj Chopra, a Junior Commissioned Officer in the Indian army, won the country its first gold in track and field. PV Sindhu became India’s first woman to secure two Olympic medals.
Sport has always been a way to unify people across the world and across societies, and the 2021 Tokyo Olympics proved this. Quinn, a Canadian soccer player, became the world's first transgender person to win a medal at the Olympics. Quinn plays as a midfielder for the Canada women’s national soccer team and is the first openly transgender and non-binary athlete to bag an Olympic gold. This was a huge moment for the LGBTQ+ community, and it showed that anyone with the right skillset and handwork can achieve their dreams.
Tamyra Mensah-Stock, an American women’s freestyle wrestler, became the first Black woman to win a gold in wrestling after she beat Nigerian wrestler Blessing Oborududun. Mensah-Stock is only the second American woman to win a gold in wrestling.
In a rare instance in the history of the Olympics, high jumpers Mutaz Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy decided to share the gold medal instead of competing in a jump-off. Barshim earned a gold after winning a silver in Rio and a bronze in London. Tamberi could not compete in Rio due to an injury, making this win even sweeter.
One of the main highlights of the Olympics this year was Sunisa Lee. The Tokyo Games were 18-year-old gymnast Sunisa Lee’s first Games, and she left the Olympics with three medals – one each of gold, silver and bronze. She won the gold in women’s all-around gymnastics, silver in the team competition, and bronze for uneven bars. “Not many people can say that they come to the Olympics their first time and bring home three medals,” she said. The governor of Minnesota, where Lee hails from, was awestruck and decided to honour the Lee, the first Hmong-American athlete to compete at the Olympics, by declaring 29 July as Sunisa Lee Day across the state.
Breaking records at the Olympics is a dream for many athletes. This year, USA’s Athing Mu set a national record in the women’s 800-meter race. At only 19 years old, she ran completed the race in 1 minute and 55.21 seconds, beating her closest opponent by a little over a second to become the first woman from the US to win a gold in this event. We also saw Charlotte Worthington bag a gold medal by completing a 360-degree backflip in the BMX finals.
This year we also saw the younger athletes bagging medals and breaking records. Quan Hongchan, a 14-year-old Chinese diver, received two perfect scores and went on to become the second-youngest Chinese diver ever to secure gold for her country. Along with securing gold, she also broke the previous record for overall score in the event by scoring two perfect tens.
This year we saw the inclusion of some new sports. The international Olympic Committee on June 1 2016 made the decision to add some new sports to the Tokyo Olympics. They approved five sports, and they were baseball, softball, karate, skateboarding and surfing. These sports added 18 events and brought in 474 athletes to the Olympics. Skateboarding also brough along the youngest Olympian, Sky Brown. Brown is only 13 years old, and became Britain’s youngest Olympic medallist.
There were some controversies this year as well. People were highly disappointed at Deepak Punia’s coach Murad Gaidarov, who was expelled from the Olympics for assaulting the referee who officiated the bronze medal play-off between Punia and Myles Nazim Amine. At the heart of the Olympics are the Olympic values, and Murad did not follow one of the most basic principles of sports – good sportsmanship.
This year's Olympics, just like the others, gave people from all parts of the world a chance to showcase their athleticism. It’ll only get better from here, and we can’t wait to see what the Paris 2024 hold for us!