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Rio 2016: The long list of firsts and notables from the Olympics

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Our crack team of researchers NBC has put together an outstanding list of superlatives from this summer’s games in Rio.

Notable Olympic Firsts, Consecutives, Mosts in Rio

  • Fiji won their first-ever medal of any color when they won gold in men’s rugby sevens.
  • Jordan won their first-ever medal of any color when Ahmad Abughaush won gold in the men’s 68kg taekwondo.
  • Kosovo won its first-ever medal of any color when Majlinda Kelmendi won gold in the women’s 52kg judo.
  • Seven nations (including IOA) have won their first-ever gold medals, but had prior silver and/or bronze medals.
    • Bahrain: Ruth Jebet – athletics – women’s 3000m steeplechase
    • Cote d’Ivoire: Cheikh Sallah Cisse – taekwondo – men’s 80kg
    • Independent Olympic Athletes: Fehaid Al-Deehani* – shooting – men’s double trap
    • Puerto Rico: Monica Puig – tennis – women’s singles
    • Singapore: Joseph Schooling – swimming – men’s 100m butterfly
    • Tajikistan: Dilshod Nazarov – athletics – men’s hammer throw
    • Vietnam: Hoang Xuan Vinh – shooting – men’s 10m air pistol

*Al-Deehani is from Kuwait, whose NOC was banned by the International Olympic Committee, but whose athletes were allowed to compete as Independent Olympic Athletes. Kuwait has never earned a gold medal; Al-Deehani has its only two previous medals, both bronze.

  • Japanese wrestler Kaori Icho became the first woman to win individual gold medals in four straight Olympics.
  • First sailing medals for Croatia, including first gold (Tonci Stipanovic – silver, men’s laser was very first medal, followed by first gold medal in men’s 470, won by Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic)
  • First US gymnast – male or female – to earn four gold medals (Simone Biles)
  • First gymnastics medal for Swiss female gymnast (Giulia Steingruber – bronze, women’s vault)
  • First time — since first bringing gymnasts to the Olympic Games in 1984 — that Chinese gymnasts failed to earn an individual gymnastics medal (China did win bronze medals in both the men’s and women’s team events)
  • First time since 1972 that Romanian gymnasts failed to earn any medal
  • First gold medal on men’s rings apparatus for Greece won outside of Games held in Athens (Eleftherious Petrounias)
  • First individual gold medal for female Dutch gymnast (Sanne Wevers – gold, balance beam)
  • Most medals won by US women’s gymnastics team – 9 (4 golds, 4 silvers, 1 bronze)
  • First loss for Serena Williams/Venus Williams in Olympic Games women’s doubles (previously 15-0, 3 gold medals together)
  • First tennis player (male or female) to win 2 gold medals in singles (Andy Murray)
  • First medal – since 1920 — in sport of tennis for Japan (Kei Nishikori – bronze, men’s singles)
  • First medal for Japanese men in table tennis (bronze – men’s singles – Jun Mizutani)
  • China continued its winning streak in women’s singles table tennis, winning its 8th consecutive gold medal (table tennis was introduced to the Olympic sports program in 1988, and no other country besides China has captured gold in women’s singles)
  • China continued its winning streak in women’s team table tennis, winning its 3rd consecutive gold medal in the event (the team table tennis events were introduced to the Olympic sports program in 2008, replacing the men’s and women’s doubles events, and no other country besides China has captured gold in the women’s team event)
  • China also captured the last four women’s doubles events in table tennis (1992-2004) and thus holds a current streak of 7 consecutive gold medals in the non-singles women’s table tennis events
  • China, for the 3rd consecutive Olympic Games, captured gold in all 4 table tennis events (2008, 2012 and 2016)
  • China, for the first time, was shut out of the medals in the badminton women’s doubles event (the streak dated back to 1992, the first year the women’s doubles event was added to the Olympic sports program; China had won the gold medal in the previous five Olympic Games, dating back to 1996)
  • Goh Liu Ying becomes the first female Olympic badminton medalist from Malaysia, when Goh and her partner, Chan Peng Soon, captured the silver medal in the mixed doubles event
  • Indonesia wins its first gold medal in the badminton mixed doubles event
  • Denmark wins its first medal, a silver, in the badminton women’s doubles event, which is only the second ever medal (and first silver) won by a non-Asian country (Russia had captured the bronze medal in the women’s doubles event at the 2012 London Games)
  • First gold medal for Japanese women in badminton (gold – women’s doubles event)
  • First medal for Great Britain in badminton in an event other than mixed doubles (bronze – men’s doubles event) and only the second time a non-Asian country captured a men’s doubles medal (Denmark won silver in the men’s doubles event at the 2012 London Games)
  • Spain wins its first medal in badminton, a gold (Carolina Marin – gold, women’s singles), and in capturing the gold medal, Marin became the first non-Asian woman to win a badminton gold medal
  • Zhang Nan of China became the first man to win two badminton medals at a single Games, taking gold in the men’s doubles event with Fu Haifeng and bronze in the mixed doubles event with Zhao Yunlei (five different women previously had won two badminton medals at a single Games on six different occasions)
  • Germany won its first individual archery medal. Lisa Unruh took home the silver medal.
  • Gwen Jorgensen’s gold medal was the first Men’s or Women’s Triathlon gold medal for USA.
  • Usain Bolt (JAM) first sprinter to win gold medal for both the 100m and 200m events in three consecutive Olympics.
  • Bolt is the first runner to win three gold medals as an individual in a single event (all others in track and field with three or more consecutive individual gold medals in one event were either field or race walk).
  • Matej Toth won Slovakia’s first track and field medal with the gold in Men’s 50k Race Walk.
  • Ruth Beitia won Spain’s first medal in Men’s or Women’s High Jump with the gold in Women’s High Jump. This is also Spain’s first gold medal in Women’s Track and Field.
  • USA won its first gold medal in Women’s 400m hurdles: Dalilah Muhammad.
  • Jenn Simpson finished with the bronze medal, the first USA medal in Women’s 1500m.
  • Matt Centrowitz won USA’s first gold medal in Men’s 1500m since 1908 Olympics.
  • Pavlo Tymoshchenko won Ukraine’s first Men’s Modern Pentathlon medal (silver).
  • Mexico received its first overall Modern Pentathlon medal, a bronze in Men’s event for Ismael Hernandez Uscanga.
  • Chloe Esposito won the gold medal in Women’s Modern Pentathlon. It’s Australia’s first ever medal in Modern Pentathlon and an Olympic record score.
  • USA’s first gold medal in Women’s Shot Put: Michelle Carter.
  • USA swept all three medals in Women’s 100m medals. First time USA has swept any event in Women’s Track and Field.
  • Italy won its first medal in beach volleyball – men or women’s – when Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai captured silver.
  • US beach volleyball athlete Kerri Walsh Jennings lost her first Olympic match (26-1) when Walsh Jennings and April Ross lost to Brazil in the semi-finals.
  • The US women’s basketball team won its sixth consecutive gold medal.
  • Russia won its first gold medal in women’s handball.
  • France won its first medal of any color in women’s handball.
  • Spain won its first medal in women’s basketball.
  • Spain won its first weightlifting medal ever – men or women’s – when Lidia Valentin Perez took home bronze in the 75kg weight class.
  • Serbia won its first women’s Olympic volleyball medal when they took home silver after losing to China.
  • China’s women’s volleyball coach Lang Ping became the first woman to win gold as both a coach and a player.
  • Since losing the final in Athens on August 29, 2004, the Netherlands’ women’s hockey team had been undefeated in the Olympic Games until the team lost in the final against Great Britain on August 19, 2016.
  • Great Britain’s women’s hockey team won its first-ever gold medal.
  • Argentina’s men’s hockey team won its first medal in Olympic hockey history–gold.
  • The Belgian men’s hockey team won its first medal since the 1920 Antwerp Games when the team won bronze; this time the squad earned a silver medal.
  • Rio 2016 is the first time the United States’ women’s hockey team finished the Olympic tournament in the top half of the tournament contenders since Los Angeles 1984 when the team won bronze.
    • Los Angeles 1984: 3rd out of 6 competing teams
    • Atlanta 1996: 5th out of 8 competing teams
    • Beijing 2008: 8th out of 12 competing teams
    • London 2012: 12th out of 12 competing teams
    • Rio 2016: 5th out of 12 competing teams.
  • Rio 2016 is the seventh time that Nick Skelton has competed at an Olympic Games–and it is the first time that he won individual jumping gold. Skelton is also the oldest Rio 2016 champion.
  • Rio 2016 is the first time that France has won Team Jumping gold since Montreal 1976.
  • France won its first gold medal of the Rio 2016 Games on August 9th for Team Eventing.
  • Nicolas Astier secured France’s second medal in Individual Eventing since the event became open in 1964.
  • Germany’s Isabell Werth has won an Olympic medal on five different continents. She has won a medal in Asia (Beijing 208), North America (Atlanta 1996), Europe (Barcelona 1992 and Athens 2004), Australia (Sydney 2000) and now South America (Rio 2016).
    • She was the second person to accomplish this feat after Kim Rhode did the same in shooting just a few hours before.
  • Simone Manuel is the first African American female to receive an Olympic gold medal in a swimming event (Women’s 100m Freestyle).
  • Simone Manuel is the first American woman to win Olympic gold in the 100m Freestyle since 1984.
  • Joseph Schooling swam the 100m Butterfly and won Singapore’s first ever Olympic gold medal.
  • Kazakhstan won its first Olympic medal (gold!) in swimming in the men’s 200m Breaststroke.
  • First time a swimmer has won gold in the same individual event 16 years apart (Anthony Ervin 2000 & 2016 in the 50m FR).
  • First time that a swimmer has won the same individual Olympic event 4 times consecutively (Michael Phelps 200 IM).
  • Sprinter Kirani James won Grenada’s first medal of any color with a gold in London; he added the nation’s second medal with silver in Rio.
  •  Judoka Sergiu Toma’s bronze medal was the United Arab Emirates’ second medal of any color.
  • Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s silver medal was the first medal of any color for the Philippines since 1996.
  • Wrestler Artur Aleksanyan won Armenia’s second gold medal (the first was in 1996) and became the first Armenian with two career medals.
  • Fencer Ines Boubakri and wrestler Marwa Amri won Tunisia’s first medals in their respective sports. They were the first medals in those sports for any African country besides Egypt, and the first medals in those sports for any female African.
  • Egypt’s Hedaya Malak Wahba earned bronze, making her the first African female to win a taekwondo medal. The next day, Cote d’Ivoire’s Ruth Gbagbi became the second.
  • Cote d’Ivoire’s Cheikh Sallah Cisse became the first African to win a gold medal in taekwondo.
  • Cote d’Ivoire had just one medal in its history before Gbagbi and Cisse won medals in the same sport on the same night.
  • Taekwondo athlete Abdoulrazak Issoufou of Niger won his country’s first silver medal and second medal of any color, following a bronze in 1972.
  • Helen Maroulis became the first American woman to win a gold medal in wrestling. She beat Japan’s Saori Yoshida, who had won the previous 3 Olympics golds and 13 straight World Championshpis golds.
  • Patimat Abakarova’s bronze was Azerbaijan’s first taekwondo medal. Three days later, Radik Isaev earned their first gold in taekwondo.
  • Tunisia’s Oussama Oueslati bronze was its first medal in taekwondo.
  • Brazilian lightweight Robson Conceicao won his nation’s first boxing gold medal.
  • Light flyweight Yuberjen Martinez won Colombia’s first boxing silver medal.
  • Uzbekistan had earned one gold medal and zero silver medals in boxing before Rio. In Rio, five Uzbek boxers earned gold or silver.

UCI looks for new host for 2020 World Road Cycling Championships

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The International Cycling Union (UCI) is looking for a new host for the 2020 World Road Cycling Championships due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Switzerland can no longer host the week-long event in late September after a national decision to extend a ban on events with more than 1,000 people through next month.

Amid reports the competition has been canceled, the UCI clarified Wednesday that it still hopes to hold it in some form, perhaps without some of the junior or senior races.

It now seeks an “alternative project,” preferably still in Europe and on the same dates (Sept. 20-27).

Worlds were due to start in Switzerland on the same day that the rescheduled Tour de France ends, though the senior elite men’s races are typically not on the first three days.

The Tour de France is still scheduled to start Aug. 29.

Last year, American Chloe Dygert starred at road worlds, winning the time trial in dominant fashion. Other world champions in Olympic events: Annemiek van Vleuten (road race), Rohan Dennis (time trial) and Mads Pedersen (road race).

MORE: Chloe Dygert had the most dominant ride in history. It still drives her nuts.

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Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15 in 2000

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In the biggest race of his young life, a 15-year-old Michael Phelps turned for the last 50 meters in fourth place of the U.S. Olympic Trials 200m butterfly final on Aug. 12, 2000.

His mom, Debbie, couldn’t watch. She turned away from the Indianapolis Natatorium pool and stared at the scoreboard. Both Debbie and Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, mentally prepared their consolation speeches for the rising Towson High School sophomore outside Baltimore.

Then Phelps, fueled by nightly Adam’s Mark chicken sandwich-and-cheesecake room service and amped by pre-race DMX on his CD player, turned it on. He zoomed into second place, becoming the youngest U.S. male swimmer to qualify for an Olympics since 1932.

Phelps had “come out of nowhere in the last six months” to become an Olympic hopeful, NBC Sports swimming commentator Dan Hicks said on the broadcast. True, Phelps chopped five and a half seconds off his personal best that March.

“He doesn’t know what it means to go to the Olympics and how it’s going to change his life,” Tom Malchow, the 1996 Olympic silver medalist who held off Phelps in that trials final, said that night, according to The Associated Press. “He’s going to find out soon.”

Phelps, who did his trademark arm flaps before the trials final, made Bowman look like a prophet. Four years earlier, the coach sat Debbie down for a conversation she would not soon forget.

“Told me what he projected for Michael,” Debbie said, according to the Baltimore Sun‘s front-page story on a local 15-year-old qualifying for the Sydney Games. “He said that in 2004, he would definitely be a factor in the Olympics. He also said that he could be there in 2000, to watch out for him. At the time, he was only 11.”

The trials were bittersweet for the Phelps family. Whitney, one of Phelps’ older sisters, withdrew before the meet with herniated discs in her back that kept her from making an Olympics after competing in the 1994 World Championships at age 14.

After Phelps qualified for the Olympics, one of the first people to embrace him was Whitney on the pool deck.

The next week, Phelps, still with bottom-teeth braces, did his first live TV sitdown on CNN, swiveling in his chair the whole time, according to his autobiography, “Beneath the Surface.”

The next month, Phelps finished fifth in his Olympic debut, clocking a then-personal-best time that would have earned gold or silver at every previous Olympics.

Following the Olympic race, gold medalist Malchow patted Phelps on the back, according to “No Limits,” another Phelps autobiography. What did Malchow say?

“The best is ahead of you.”

MORE: Meet Arnie the Terminator, Katie Ledecky’s top rival

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