The cards were stacked against the Tokyo 2020 Olympics before the event even had a chance to begin. But in spite of countless upsets, worries and a full year’s delay, the event has proven to be more successful than anticipated. We’ve seen some unprecedented victories as well as profound moments that have redefined what the sporting event stands for.
Didn’t expect much from this year’s Games? Think again. Here are the best moments from the first week of the Tokyo Olympic Games. (If you're looking to revisit the best moments from the opening ceremony, see our highlights here.)
Tom Daley’s victory speech
Tom Daley and Matty Lee’s diving gold medal win in Men’s Synchronised 10m Platform Final was not only a victory for Team Great Britain, but also a victory for all LGBTQ+ individuals around the world. While this isn’t the first time an openly gay athelete has won an Olympic gold medal – Matthew Mitcham won the 10m Platform Final in the 2008 Beijing Olympics – this year’s Games feature more out and proud athletes than ever before.
In a press conference immediately following the event, Daley delivered a poignant speech expressing the empowerment behind being an openly gay Olympic champion. He also addressed LGBTQ+ individuals with an important message: ‘I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone and that you can achieve anything.’
Teenage skateboarding champions
Skateboarding often gets snubbed for being a juvenile pastime rather than a proper sport, but its inclusion in this year’s Olympic Games has served as a turning point for the younger generation. The women’s street final saw not one but two 13-year-olds come away with Olympic medals, astonishing audiences everywhere.
Team Japan’s Momiji Nishiya and Team Brazil’s Rayssa Leal earned the gold and silver medals after earning 15.26 points and 14.64 points respectively. Both athletes took falls when attempting tricks in the second portion of the competition, but pulled themselves to the top to fly in the face of naysayers and inspire the next generation of aspiring athletes.
Germany’s gymnastics costumes
Team Germany’s uniform garnered a fair amount of attention when the women’s gymnastics team emerged in unitards for their competition. The uniform choice was especially significant as two weeks prior, the Norwegian Women’s Handball Team had been slapped with a €1,500 fine for playing in shorts instead of bikini bottoms during the European Beach Handball Championship.
Gymnastics, like beach volleyball, sees a stark contrast in men’s and women’s uniforms: men traditionally sport long-legged unitards compared to women’s more revealing leotards. By opting for a more unisex outfit, Team Germany made a statement that spoke volumes against the sexist regulations in the sports world today and the sexualisation of gymnastics as a sport.
The Philippines’ first gold medal
Winning an Olympic medal is a monumental achievement on its own, but when weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz took the gold for 55kg category in women’s weightlifting, Filipinos were ecstatic – Diaz had just won the country’s first ever Olympic gold medal.
There were many points in the lead-up to the games when Diaz doubted whether she could realise her dream of becoming an Olympic gold medalist. During the pandemic, the athlete struggled to gather enough funds to continue her training and she questioned whether – at the age of 30 – she had already reached the peak of her athletic abilities. In the end, Diaz triumphed, lifting a combined total of 224kg and setting a new Olympic weightlifting record with her second Olympic medal (Diaz won silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics).
Athletes having fun in the Olympic Village
They may not be allowed out of the Olympic Village bubble except during training and competitions, but it's not all doom and gloom for this year’s athletes. Through video tours of the Olympic Village, training vlogs and viral TikTok videos, athletes are getting ever-more creative in connecting with their fans around the world who are missing the opportunity to watch the events on-site.
From jumping on cardboard beds to reviewing the food at the 24-hour Olympic Village canteen, it has been delightful to see the athletes enjoying themselves and making the best of a difficult situation in between fierce tournaments and frequent PCR tests. Keep the videos coming!
More on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
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