Staging a major event during these unprecedented times is no mean feat, let alone one that’s held on an international scale and involves over 200 countries. The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 — also known as Tokyo Olympics 2021 to fans — kicked off officially on Friday, 23 July, with tennis star Naomi Osaka serving as the final torchbearer for its opening ceremony. And in spite of the new normal challenges and mixed reception that the quadrennial multi-sport event has received thus far, the games must go on.
Catch up on all the Tokyo Olympics 2021 highlights below — from weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz clinching Philippines' first-ever Olympic gold to 13-year-old skateboarder Momiji Nishiya earning the title as Japan's youngest Olympic gold medallist.
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz wins first Olympics gold for the Philippines
Hidilyn Diaz has won the Philippines’ first-ever Olympic gold in the 55KG category of women’s weightlifting. The 30-year-old also managed to set an Olympic record during her last lift, which saw her hefting a combined weight total of 224KG across two successful attempts. “I sacrificed a lot. I wasn’t able to be with my mother and father for how many months and years and then of course, training was excruciating. But God had a plan,” revealed Hidilyn in an interview. She also clinched a silver medal for the Philippines during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
13-year-old Momiji Nishiya becomes Japan’s youngest gold medal winner
ICYDK, street skateboarding is now considered an Olympic sport. In 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed to include skateboarding alongside baseball, karate, sports climbing and surfing in its sports programme in an effort to “take sport to the youth.” Fast forward to its debut at Tokyo Olympics 2021, the inaugural skateboarding competition also made history after crowning Japan’s youngest gold medallist ever — with 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya securing the top spot in the women’s street skateboarding competition. Nishiya is also the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the sport.
Ariarne Titmus’ coach’s reaction goes viral following gold medal win
Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus may have made news headlines after beating USA’s five-time Olympic gold medallist Katie Ledecky during the final of the 400-metre freestyle segment on 26 July. However, the 20-year-old’s coach, Dean Boxall, was the one who went viral on social media after his reaction towards Titmus’ historic win was captured on camera.
Boxall was seen punching his fist excitedly in the air while removing his face mask. While viewers and supporters were delighted by his exuberance, his behaviour also caught the attention of the IOC, which promptly issued a statement to remind all participants to abide by COVID protocols to “ensure safe and secure Games for all participants.”
Human pictograms fascinate viewers during Opening Ceremony
A 4-minute-plus “human pictograms" segment presented by a group of “faceless” performers during the Olympics’ Opening Ceremony on 23 July has chalked up over two million views on YouTube. The video depicted the performers embodying 50 Olympic disciplines from 41 sports through a series of seamless movements. One news outlet even likened the performance to an actual “sport", while another praised the performers’ impressive athletic abilities. Catch the fascinating performance above.
Naomi Osaka serves as Tokyo Olympics' final Olympic torchbearer
23-year-old tennis star Naomi Osaka returned to the spotlight after lighting the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony on 23 July. Her participation in the international event marked her return following her controversial announcement in withdrawing from the French Open to care for her mental health.
Since the opening ceremony, Naomi has won two matches at the Olympics after beating China’s Seisei Zheng on 25 July and Switzerlands’ Viktoria Golubic on 26 July. Unfortunately, she is no longer eligible for a spot on the podium after losing to the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova earlier today (27 July).
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