Tokyo Summer Olympics: All the Firsts at the 2020 Games

The record books will be racing to keep up with all the history being made at the long-awaited Summer Olympics

01 of 20

First Hmong American Olympic Gold Medalist

Sunisa Lee
Sunisa Lee. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Team USA's Sunisa Lee makes history not only as the first Hmong American Olympic gymnast, but also the first Hmong American Olympic gold medalist. Lee placed first in the women's gymnastics individual all-around event on July 29, cinching the competition with a score of 57.433.

On July 27, the first-time Olympian also won silver alongside Simone Biles, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum at the women's team gymnastics final.

Before the Games began, Lee told PEOPLE that her title as the first Hmong American Olympic gymnast "means a lot to the Hmong community ... and to just be an inspiration to other Hmong people [means] a lot to me too."

02 of 20

First Women's Gymnastics Medal for Brazil

Rebeca Andrade
Jamie Squire/Getty

Behind Lee's historic gold, Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade finished second to seize silver in the women's gymnastics individual all-around. The moment marked a national milestone of her own, with Andrade winning the first-ever gymnastics medal for Brazil, according to NBC Olympics.

03 of 20

USA Takes First Gold Medal in 3-on-3 Basketball Debut

Team United States
Team USA's 3x3 Basketball Team. Stanislav KrasilnikovTASS via Getty

For the inaugural Olympic competition of 3-on-3 basketball, team USA (WNBA players Stephanie Dolson, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young and Allisha Gray) bested Russia's athletes 18-15 to take home the sport's first-ever gold medal on July 28.

04 of 20

First-Ever Gold Medal for Bermuda

Flora Duffy
Li Ming/Xinhua via Getty

Flora Duffy looked triumphant after winning the first-ever gold medal for Bermuda on July 27 in the women's triathlon. She swam, biked and ran to victory in 1 hour, 55:36 minutes, ESPN reported.

Duffy's gold is only the second Olympic medal ever to be won by a Bermudian athlete, following boxer Clarence Hill's bronze in 1976. The British island territory has a population of 64,000 – so there would be a seat for everyone inside Tokyo's Olympic Stadium.

05 of 20

First-Ever Medal for Turkmenistan

Polina Guryeva
Chris Graythen/Getty

In a national first, women's weightlifter Polina Guryeva of Team Turkmenistan won the first medal for her country since it declared independence from the Soviet Union.

Guryeva lifted 217 kilograms (478 lbs.) to score silver on July 27, and said it was surreal to achieve the dream.

"I was in shock because it's the first Olympic medal in the history of the Turkmen people. It's the first medal, which I won. No sport in Turkmenistan has had a medal, not one medal," she said, per the Associated Press. "I'm so in shock."

06 of 20

Inaugural Surfing Medals Awarded

Carissa Moore
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Carissa Moore of Team USA won gold in the first-ever women's shortboard surfing event July 27, taking the top prize in the sport's Olympic debut.

07 of 20

The Philippines Wins First Gold

Hidilyn Diaz
Photo by An Lingjun/CHINASPORTS/VCG via Getty Images

Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz scored the first-ever gold medal for her country July 26, lifting a whopping 127kg (279 pounds!) with ease.

08 of 20

First Skateboarding Medals Awarded

Olympic firsts
Ezra Shaw/Getty

No skating by here! Thirteen-year-old Momiji Nishiya of Team Japan became the first gold medalist in women's street skateboarding during the sport's Olympic debut July 26.

In getting the gold, the teen also became Japan's youngest-ever Olympic medalist, per the AP. Rayssa Leal, 13, of Brazil, took silver, while Funa Nakayama, 16, also of Japan, won bronze.

In scoring silver, Leal also become her country's youngest-ever medalist, on what the Olympic organization cited as "what is believed to be the youngest Olympic podium ever."

09 of 20

US Wins Its First Skateboarding Medal

Jagger Eaton
Team USA's Jagger Eaton celebrates his bronze medal in the men's skateboarding street final on Sunday at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Wally Skalij /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Skateboarder Jagger Eaton of Team USA took home the bronze in the men's street competition, scoring the first skateboarding medal for the U.S. in the sport's Olympic debut July 25.

"To be sitting here, the medal around my neck, just means the world to me," he told PEOPLE after his victory.

10 of 20

First US Men's Olympic Basketball Loss in 17 Years

Kevin Durant of Team United States controls the ball during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round Group A - Match 4 between France and USA on Day 2 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Pete Dovgan/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Dropping the ball, the U.S.' men's basketball team lost in the group round stage July 25, a first in 17 years.

Falling 83-76 to France, Team USA had not lost since being defeated by Argentina in the semifinals in 2004.

"We have to be more consistent," coach Gregg Popovich said.

11 of 20

First Siblings Win Gold in Individual Sport on Same Day

Hifumi Abe and Uta Abe

Brother and sister Hifumi and Uta Abe of Team Japan made history July 25 when they each won gold in their respective judo divisions. Now, the Abes are officially the first siblings to win gold in individual sports on same day, the IOC reported.

12 of 20

US Wins First Air Rifle Gold Medal

William Shaner
Kevin C. Cox/Getty

William Shaner of Team USA won the country's first gold medal in the 10m men's air rifle event July 25, even setting a new Olympic record with a final score of 250.9.

"We've been trying to get a medal in this event for a long time...so it was nice to bring it back home now," the athlete said after his win, according to the IOC.

13 of 20

First Individual Foil Fencing Gold for Team USA

Gold medalist Lee Kiefer of Team United States poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women's Foil Individual Fencing Gold Medal event on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on July 25, 2021 in Chiba, Japan.
Lee Kiefer. Elsa/Getty

Team USA fencer Lee Kiefer became the first American woman to medal in the individual foil event, getting the gold on July 25.

14 of 20

Historic First Gold in Taekwondo for the US

Anastasija Zolotic
Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images

In another historic win, Team USA's Anastasija Zolotic won her country's first Olympic gold medal in women's taekwondo on July 25.

15 of 20

First Openly Trans Athletes Competing

Quinn, Laurel Hubbard, and Chelsea Wolfe  
getty (2), Chelsea Wolfe/instagram

Though the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has welcomed transgender athletes to compete in the Olympics since 2004, no one has done so openly until now, the Associated Press reported.

Quinn, a member of the Canadian women's soccer team, made history as the first openly transgender athlete to participate in the Olympics during a July 24 game against Japan.

Other trans athletes to watch are Laurel Hubbard, a women's weight lifter competing for New Zealand, and Chelsea Wolfe, a reserve member of Team USA's BMX Freestyle team. According to the outlet, they're not alone, either.

"In addition to Quinn, Hubbard and Wolfe, some transgender athletes are competing without discussing their transition," per the AP.

16 of 20

Youngest-Ever Athletes

Kokona Hiraki, Sky Brown, Hend Zaza  
getty (3)

Age is just a number for these youthful competitors, who aren't kidding around.

Skateboarder Sky Brown, 13, debuts as Team Great Britain's youngest-ever athlete to compete in the Summer Games, according to the IOC. Fellow skateboarder Kokona Hiraki, 12, of Team Japan, also enters as the youngest Summer Olympian for her country.

Syrian table tennis sensation Hend Zaza, 12, debuted as the youngest competitor in her sport in Olympic history on July 24, though she lost her opening match.

17 of 20

Zero Medals for Team USA on Day 1

South Korea's Kim Junghwan (L) reacts during the match against USA's Eli Dershwitz in the men's sabre individual qualifying bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, on July 24, 2021.
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty

The Games began with a shaky start for the United States, with Team USA failing to medal entirely on July 24. American athletes competing in archery, cycling, fencing, air rifle and pistol shooting, and weightlifting vied without nabbing a spot on the podium.

The opening day went down as the nation's worst start to the Summer Olympics since the 1972 Munich Games, CNN reported.

18 of 20

First Gender-Balanced Olympics

Flag bearers Sue Bird and Eddy Alvares of Team United States
Team USA. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

In another record smashed, the Tokyo Summer Olympics are the "first gender-balanced Games in history," the IOC reported.

Paving the way for a more equitable future, nearly 49 percent of athletes competing are women, according to the committee. In another promotion of gender representation, the Games will feature 18 total mixed events, nine more than the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics

19 of 20

Four New Sports Debut

Climbing and karate in the Olympics
Sergei BobylevTASS via Getty; PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty

Hello surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and karate! The four sports make their Olympic debut at the Tokyo Summer Games, kicking off with skateboarding and surfing on July 25, with sport climbing and karate to follow in August.

In addition, softball and baseball are back for the first time in 13 years, due in part the popularity of both sports in host nation Japan, according to The New York Times.

20 of 20

No Spectators in Attendance

Christen Press
Christen Press. Berengui/DeFodi Images via Getty

For the first time in history, the Olympics commence without fans in attendance, after Tokyo declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 concerns shortly before the Games begin. The emergency proclamation is effective until at least Aug. 22 – for the entirety of the Olympics, which began July 23 and are slated to end Aug. 8.

The blanket spectator ban had been previously agreed upon by the IOC, International Paralympic Committee, and Tokyo organizers in June, in the event that such a crisis would be declared.

"It's been a while now that we've been competing without fans and we miss everybody so much," Christen Press of Team USA's women's soccer team said of the spectator ban, following the team's loss to Sweden July 21.

"We could hear each other, we could hear our own breath a little bit, but we do feel the support from everyone from our family and fans back home, and honestly the support powers us through," she added.

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