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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.

Noah Lyles, Michael Norman, green teens at Olympic Trials, now stars

Noah Lyles, Michael Norman
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Noah Lyles remembers all of it. Michael Norman is a little hazy on the details.

Even if they compete in different sprints (as they are at this week’s USATF Outdoor Championships), Lyles and Norman will always be linked by the 2016 Olympic Trials 200m final.

Both 18-year-olds. Both racing in high school singlets. Neither was expected to contend for the U.S. Olympic team at the start of the 10-day meet. But each won his 200m semifinal at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus two years ago.

The next day, the top three men in the 200m final would make the U.S. Olympic team. Lyles and Norman conversed in the call room before the race.

“Talking about how we were just doing this last year,” Lyles said, referencing his 200m win over Norman in the 2015 U.S. Junior Championships, also at Hayward. “I can’t believe we’re here, high schoolers, trying to bring a whole new generation.”

They entered the stadium.

“I remember walking down the track,” Lyles continued. “I can’t remember which race was going on, but I remember seeing Galen Rupp there, so it had to be the 5000m [it was, and perhaps the greatest race of the meet]. I remember everybody going wild for the distance race. All the people slamming on the front of the stands. Just starting to get hyped.”

Norman settled in lane six. Lyles in lane four. The starter’s gun fired.

“I remember running at the end,” Lyles said. “I had no idea what place I was in. I just saw LaShawn [Merritt] and Justin [Gatlin, a pair of Olympic champions] in front of me. That’s all that I saw, so I was really hoping I got third.”

Lyles didn’t see Ameer Webb in lane seven. Webb got third in 20.00 behind Gatlin and Merritt. Lyles was fourth in 20.09 (a national high school record). Norman was fifth in 20.14 (personal best).

Lyles and Norman just missed becoming the youngest U.S. man to make an Olympic track and field team in 32 years. Both left Eugene satisfied, though.

“That would be the only opportunity that both me and Noah Lyles will be able to go into the Olympic Trials with zero expectations and zero pressure,” Norman said this week.

Lyles and Norman are already U.S. Championships headliners at the midpoint of this Olympic cycle. Part of that is due to the absences of Gatlin, Merritt and Christian Coleman. But also what Lyles and Norman have done since those Olympic Trials.

USATF Outdoors: TV Schedule | Entries | Women’s Preview | Men’s Preview

Lyles is a co-favorite in Friday’s 100m, a complementary event for a man who signed a reported eight-year contract with Adidas shortly after the Olympic Trials.

The 5-foot-10, 160-pound Lyles is the son of Seton Hall track and field athletes. His first Olympic memory is watching Usain Bolt‘s record-breaking performances at the 2008 Beijing Games. He ran in R2-D2 socks on May 4, is a sneaker artist, dancer and Lego lover and apparently has “ICON” tattooed on his side.

Since Olympic Trials, Lyles is undefeated in outdoor 200m races. He broke 20 seconds in May 2017 but suffered a hamstring tear during that race and withdrew during the U.S. Championships the next month. He watched the August world championships from his Florida home, then beat the surprise world champion Ramil Guliyev at the Diamond League final three weeks later.

This year, Lyles set personal bests in the 100m (9.93, .02 off the fastest in the world this year) and 200m (19.69, tied for fastest in the world this year) and ran the fastest indoor 300m of all time.

Norman is expected to win Sunday’s 200m in his first meet since announcing he would turn professional after the NCAA Championships. Norman is forgoing his final two years at the University of Southern California.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Norman also has former college runners as parents. His dad went to Ball State, then transferred to a junior college before joining the Navy. His mom said she was once the fastest Japanese middle school 100m runner of all time. Norman has no evidence, but he has seen pictures.

Like Lyles, Norman’s first Olympic memory was Bolt in 2008. He races in a headband after being inspired by 2015 World 100m bronze medalist Trayvon Bromell. Norman has “22” in his social media handles because it shares a keyboard piece with the @ symbol.

Norman was also slowed by injuries in that post-Olympic Trials season as he became primarily a 400m runner at USC.

Shin splints. A stress reaction in his back. A hamstring strain that he reinjured in practice five weeks later. Norman did compete at the 2017 U.S. Championships, but not at full fitness, and finished seventh, missing the world championships 4x400m pool by one spot. He said this week is about “self redemption.”

Norman’s sophomore year at USC was a healthy one. Norman broke the 400m indoor record on March 10. He has taken .99 of a second off his outdoor 400m personal best, winning the NCAA title in 43.61. That’s the fastest time in the world since Wayde van Niekerk‘s world record 43.03 at the Rio Olympics. Norman is now the sixth-fastest 400m runner ever.

“I see myself as both a 200m and 400m runner,” said Norman, who hasn’t raced the 200m at a significant meet since winning the world U20 title two weeks after the Olympic Trials.

Norman and Lyles chose to room together at the 2016 World U20 Championships in Poland. They joked who would be put on the 4x400m relay (Norman led off, Lyles anchored, and the U.S. beat Japan by .08). Unlike trials, Norman has a better memory of the experience.

“Before [Lyles] raced his 100m final, he was talking to a sports psychologist,” he said. “I didn’t really know that people did that.”

Norman also remembers that Lyles is 2-0 in their all-time head to head. They could have raced this week, but Lyles chose the 100m. They are both entered in a 200m at a Diamond League meet in Lausanne on July 5.

“That’s one of my huge goals for the year, race Noah Lyles,” Norman said at the Olympic Trials.

They haven’t raced against each other since that day in Eugene. Norman had a dry-erase board at his USC dorm room on which he scribbled goals,. Though he never wrote anything about Lyles, he is certainly looking forward to their next meeting.

“It brings some more light to the sport, having rivalries like this may pique other people’s interest,” said Norman, who has gone about a year without ice cream but will indulge a Baked Bear double-decker ice-cream sandwich at the end of the season. “As long as it doesn’t become a negative, where we’re not conversing or being friendly, it will be beneficial to track and both of our careers.”

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Five men’s events to watch at USATF Outdoor Championships

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The featured men’s events at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships have a bit of everything.

Dominance from Olympic medalists Ryan Crouser (shot put) and Paul Chelimo (5000m). Promise in the form of Noah Lyles (100m), Michael Norman (200m) and Grant Holloway (110m hurdles). Overcoming adversity — Matthew Centrowitz (1500m) and Clayton Murphy (800m).

A Lyles-Norman showdown in the 200m would have enough spice to headline this meet on its own, but Lyles decided against the double. That enhances the likelihood that the biggest story in Des Moines could come from one of many events on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

There is no Olympic or world championships team to qualify for this year, which is why established stars like Justin GatlinChristian Coleman and LaShawn Merritt are out.

But their absences could yield the emergence of first-time national champions. Just look at 2014, when that list included Tianna BartolettaKori CarterJeff HendersonSam Kendricks and Joe Kovacs, all of whom have since won Olympic or world titles.

USATF Outdoors: TV Schedule | Entries | Women’s Preview | Men’s Preview

Five men’s events to watch this week:

100m (Final — Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET, Olympic Channel, NBC Sports Gold)
World gold and silver medalists Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman are missing, but two more impressive sprinters this outdoor season go head-to-head. Noah Lyles, who finished fourth in the 200m at the 2016 Olympic Trials at age 18 and is since undefeated in that event, drops down for his first 100m at a major meet as a professional. Lyles has the joint-fastest 200m in the world this year. He chose the 100m this week for two reasons — he can improve more in the 100m than the 200m over three rounds and to try something different given his race schedule the rest of the summer is tailored for the 200m. Lyles is forgoing a matchup with Michael Norman in the 200m this week, but he should have his hands full with Ronnie Baker. Baker, who grew up running cross-country and avoiding the moose in Alaska, has been the most impressive American in the 100m this year. Baker beat a slightly injured Coleman at consecutive Diamond League meets in May and, with favorable wind, should improve on his personal best of 9.93 and overtake the fastest time in the world this year (Zharnel Hughes‘ 9.91). As should Lyles, who also has a personal best of 9.93.

Shot Put (Saturday, 3:45 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports Gold)
All four men from Rio and the 2017 Worlds are here, including Olympic gold and silver medalists Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs. Crouser, whose father, two uncles and two cousins were elite throwers, has won 13 of his last 14 head-to-heads with Kovacs, who was taught to throw by his mom in his Pennsylvania high-school parking lot. Crouser also won his last 13 of 14 head-to-heads with Rio Olympian Darrell Hill, according to Tilastopaja.org. Crouser also has the top 23 throws by an American this year out of his 24 total legal throws in 2018 competition, according to Tilastopaja.

1500m (Final — Saturday, 5:40 p.m. ET, NBC)
Is Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz vulnerable? He was upset at nationals last year by Robby Andrews. Centrowitz revealed afterward that he competed on 10 days of training after a series of health problems that included an emergency-room visit with a viral infection. Then at worlds, a listless Centrowitz finished last in his first-round heat and said he was unable to get more than two straight weeks of healthy training all season. The 28-year-old heads into Des Moines ranked behind Andrews and Johnny Gregorek on best times this season. At last month’s Pre Classic, Centrowitz was beaten by a countryman (Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy, not racing the 1500m this week) at a major race at Hayward Field for the first time in five years.

800m (Final — Sunday, 4:13 p.m. ET, NBC)
Maybe the deepest field at nationals. The six fastest Americans since the start of 2016 are here. Clayton Murphy took bronze at the Rio Olympics but withdrew during 2017 Nationals with sore hamstrings and missed worlds. Boris Berian went from flipping burgers at McDonald’s to winning the 2016 World Indoor title and placing second at the Olympic Trials. He didn’t race at all in 2017 (Achilles) and ranks 186th in the U.S. this year. Donavan Brazier won the 2017 U.S. title and 2018 U.S. Indoor title at age 20 but hasn’t raced outdoors this year. Drew Windle took silver at world indoors on March 3. NCAA champion Isaiah Harris and Erik Sowinski are the fastest Americans this outdoor season.

110m Hurdles (Final — Sunday, 5:52 p.m. ET, NBC)
An intergenerational group with 2012 Olympic champion and world-record holder Aries Merritt, 2016 Olympic Trials winner Devon Allen and Grant Holloway, a rising University of Florida junior who won all four NCAA hurdles titles his first two years and ranks second in the world this season. Merritt underwent a kidney transplant in 2015, then missed the 2016 Olympic team by .01 and missed a national title in 2017 by .07 behind Aleec Harris (who is also in this field). Allen, the former University of Oregon wide receiver, looked primed to break 13 seconds after he won the trials in 13.03, but that remains his personal best. Holloway clocked his personal best of 13.15 on May 13 and is the only American to break 13.20 this year. It’s been nearly three years since an American broke 13 seconds, the longest drought in more than two decades.

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