20 ways women stole the show in the first week of the 2020 Games

Tokyo Olympics

From the pool to the podium and everywhere in between, women have been making history and stealing the show at the Tokyo Olympics Credit: Getty Images

Nearly 11,000 athletes traveled to Tokyo to compete in the 2020 Olympics, and almost 49% of the competitors are female. With that many incredible women in one place, it’s no wonder that history, highlights and hype are being added every day. Here are 20 ways women have stolen the show in the first week of the 2020 Games:

Writing History

1. Ledecky, Sullivan go 1-2 in first Olympic women’s 1500m freestyle race

When it was confirmed in June of 2017 that the women’s 1500m freestyle would make its Olympic debut in Tokyo, the question was not who would win gold but rather how much faster Katie Ledecky would swim than the next closest competitor. The six-time Olympic gold medalist swam the 30 laps in 15:37.34, over four seconds faster than teammate Erica Sullivan who clinched the silver. Though Ledecky didn’t beat her own world record of 15:20:48 set at a Pro Series meet in 2018, she said after the race that she was happy to “get the job done.” She added that she thinks “of all the great female swimmers the U.S. has had that haven’t had that opportunity to swim that event” and was glad she and Sullivan could honor them “in the best possible way.” 

2. Lee carries on American winning streak in women’s all-around

Entering the women’s artistic gymnastics individual all-around final Suni Lee had the weight of an American legacy on her shoulders. In the last four Olympics, a gymnast representing Team USA had been crowned Olympic champion, and Lee became the gold medal favorite overnight after reigning champion Simone Biles withdrew from the event to focus on her mental health. As she has done time and time again in Tokyo, Lee delivered when the stakes were high and hit all four of her routines, including an incredibly difficult set on the uneven bars that scored a 15.300. Her final score of 57.433 was enough to edge out Brazilian Rebeca Andradewho won the silver. The 18-year-old is the first Hmong-American to compete in the Olympics and the first to win gold. 

3. Moore surfs her way to Olympic gold

It’s only fitting that the first Olympic gold in women’s surfing was won by a competitor from Hawaii, the birthplace of the sport. Honolulu’s Carissa Moore outscored South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag 14.93 to 8.46 in the final round to become the first female Olympic champion in surfing.

Carissa Moore of Team United States celebrates winning the Gold Medal after her final match against Bianca Buitendag of Team South Africa on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Carissa Moore of Team United States celebrates winning the Gold Medal after her final match against Bianca Buitendag of Team South Africa on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

4. Teens top first ever Olympic skateboarding competition

Wondering what Generation Z is up to these days? At the 2020 Olympics the answer is simple: winning medals. Hometown favorite Momiji Nishiya and Rayssa Leal of Brazil picked up gold and silver in the women’s street skateboarding competition, though “women” may be a bit of a stretch. Both are only 13 while bronze medalist Funa Nakayama of Japan is 16. The sport’s universally acknowledged “G.O.A.T,” Tony Hawk, had retired by the time Monday’s three medalists were born, which means the trio could be recognized as skateboarding baby G.O.A.T.s or…kids? 

5. Zolotic tops taekwondo competition to grab America’s first gold

Anastasija Zolotic entered the Tokyo Olympics ranked seventh in the women’s 57kg taekwondo competition but outscored every opponent she faced to become the first American female to win gold in the event. Her medal was also Team USA’s first gold in taekwondo since 2004. 

6. Neff leads Switzerland in sweep of mountain bike podium

Jolanda Neff not only won Switzerland’s first gold in the women’s mountain bike event but also led the first-ever Olympic podium sweep by one country in the discipline’s history. Teammates  Sina Frei and Linda Indergand earned silver and bronze but could not catch Neff, who finished the race in 1:15:46.Her winning gap – 1:11 – is the widest in the event’s Games history. 

 Silver medalist Sina Frei, gold medalist Jolanda Neff, and bronze medalist Linda Indergand of Team Switzerland, pose on the podium during the medal ceremony during the Women's Cross-country race on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Silver medalist Sina Frei, gold medalist Jolanda Neff, and bronze medalist Linda Indergand of Team Switzerland, pose on the podium during the medal ceremony during the Women’s Cross-country race on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (Getty Images)

7. Parratto, Schnell win first U.S. medals in women’s synchronized 10m platform

The women’s synchronized 10m platform has been an Olympic event since 2000, but before 2020 a pair representing the U.S. had never made the podium. That changed when Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell nailed their final dive, a back 2 1/2-somersault pike with 1 1/2 twists, to clinch a silver medal. 

8. Kiefer is Team USA’s fencing golden girl

In her third Olympic appearance, Lee Kiefer captured the first gold of her career and became the first American to win an individual foil gold. She defeated reigning Olympic champion Inna Deriglazova 15-13 to earn Team USA’s first fencing gold of the Tokyo Games. 

SEE MORE: USA’s Lee Kiefer wins gold in women’s foil

Global Impact

9. Diaz lifts the Philippines to new Olympic heights

In the women’s 55kg weightlifting competition, Hidilyn Diaz set two Olympic records and won the Philippines’ first ever gold medal. The four-time Olympian, who won a silver in Rio, snatched 97kg and lifted 127kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 224kg. Her gold medal ended the Philippines’ 97-year gold-medal drought.

10. Lehis leads Estonia to its first fencing medals in nation’s history

Prior to this Olympic Games, Estonia had never won an Olympic medal in any fencing event. Katrina Lehis claimed the county’s first medal of any color with a bronze in the women’s individual epee and scored the final touch in the women’s team epee competition to clinch the nation’s first fencing gold and team medal

11. Duffy wins first gold for Bermuda

Flora Duffy was one of only two athletes in Tokyo representing Bermuda, and her golden performance in the triathlon made her the first competitor from the nation to stand atop an Olympic podium. Her time of 1:55:36 was over a minute faster than silver medalist Georgia Taylor-Brown. Bermuda is the smallest nation to ever win an Olympic gold. 

Flora Duffy of Team Bermuda celebrates winning the gold medal during the Women's Individual Triathlon
Flora Duffy of Team Bermuda celebrates winning the gold medal during the Women’s Individual TriathlonGetty Images

12. Guryeva takes home Turkmenistan’s first Olympic medal

Polina Guryeva lifted a combined 217kg in the women’s 59kg weightlifting competition to induct Turkmenistan into the all-time Olympic medal count. The 28-year-old snatched 96kg and lifted 121kg in the clean and jerk to earn a silver medal and a place in Olympic history. 

13. Japan downs U.S. in highlight-filled gold-medal softball game

The gold-medal rematch was 13 years in the making, and it did not disappoint. Japan defended its gold medal for the Beijing Games, the last time softball was contested in an Olympics, by downing the U.S. 2-0. The matchup produced a highlight reel that’s worth watching more than once due to incredible catches by outfielders Michelle Moultrie and Janie Reed, who robbed Fujita Yamato of a homerun. Japanese pitcher Ueno Yukiko was phenomenal in the circle, allowing just two hits and striking out five batters in six shutout innings. 

SEE MORE: Japan knocks off USA in highlight-filled gold medal game

Standing Apart from the Rest

14. Yang wins first gold awarded in 2020 Games

Yang Qian earned the unique title of the first Olympic gold medalist of the Tokyo Games with a win in a nail-biting final in the women’s 10-meter air rifle competition. The 21-year-old trailed 231.4 to 231.3 heading into the final two shots but maintained her composure to clinch the gold when silver medalist Anastasiia Galashina (ROC) faltered on her final shot. 

15. Alvarado makes history with demonstration during floor routine

Luciana Alvarado is the first gymnast from Costa Rica to ever qualify to the Olympics and did something no other elite gymnast has done before in a major international competition. The 18-year-old ended her floor routine by taking a knee and raising her right fist in the air, a movement she said was intentionally included in her choreography as a sign of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. 

16. Jacoby puts Alaska on the map with gold in 100m breaststroke

The 17-year-old shocked the world when she finished ahead of South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker and teammate Lilly King, but the corner of the Earth that featured the most excitement was Lydia Jacoby’s hometown of Seward, Alaska. At a watch party, her supporters witnessed their local star become the first Alaskan to ever win a swimming gold and exploded into foam-finger-waving celebration. 

17. Abe Uta captures judo gold on same day as brother Hifuma 

From the first Saturday of the Tokyo Games until the end of time Abe Uta has bragging rights over her older brother Abe Hifumi because she won Olympic gold first. The siblings became the first brother and sister to win gold at the same Olympics with victories in their respective judo matches. Uta claimed gold by winning the women’s half lightweight final against France’s Amandine Buchard while Hifuma joined the party a few hours later by defeating Georgian judoka Vazha Margvelashvili. Together, they made history, but Uta earned the right to always put her name first. 

Siblings Abe Uta and Abe Hifuma become first siblings to win gold at same Olympics
Uta Abe of Team Japan reacts after she defeated Amandine Buchard of Team France during the Women’s Judo 52kg Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Nippon BudokanPhoto by Harry How/Getty Images

18. Kiesenhofer shocks the world in women’s road race

Anna Kiesenhofer pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Olympic cycling history to win the women’s road race and Austria’s first gold at a Summer Olympics since 2004. The lone rider from Austria finished the 85.1-mile (137 km) course from Musashinonomori Park to Fuji International Speedway in 3:52:45 to beat out favorite Annemiek van Vleuten (NED). Austria’s only other gold medal in cycling was in 1896.

19. U.S. women’s artistic gymnastics team wins silver after Biles withdraws

In a demonstration of grit and grace under pressure, the U.S. women’s artistic gymnastics team won a silver in team finals after losing its leader, superstar Simone Biles, at the top of the competition. Biles struggled on vault and withdrew from the remaining three events, but Suni LeeGrace McCallum, and Jordan Chiles stepped up on uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise to score a combined 166.096. Lee was not slated to compete on floor exercise but hit her routine in the final rotation to help Team USA make the podium while Chiles had to come off the bench on bars and beam. She made errors on those events in qualifying but was rock solid in team finals. 

Sunisa Lee, Grace McCallum, Simone Biles and Jordan Chiles celebrate winning the silver medal during the podium ceremony of the artistic gymnastics women's team final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Sunisa Lee, Grace McCallum, Simone Biles and Jordan Chiles celebrate winning the silver medal during the podium ceremony of the artistic gymnastics women’s team final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics(Photo by MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images)

20. Werth bests her own record for most career equestrian medals

There is no denying that Isabell Werth is the best in her sport, but if there were any doubts, the 52-year-old shut them down by winning two medals in Tokyo to bring her career total to 12. Werth won a gold with Germany in the dressage team event and defended her silver from Rio in the individual dressage competition. She now has seven golds and five silvers. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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