The Olympics this year have been one for the books.
Whether it's because of the spectator-less crowd, the new sports added to the repertoire, or the performances themselves, Tokyo 2020 certainly made waves online and in the arena. To reflect on the wins and losses of this year's games, we're celebrating four first-time events that Tokyo 2020 brought to the table.
- Mental health was prioritized. Although American gymnast Simone Biles' stepping out of competition came as a shock to her fans across the globe, the move was ultimately a wise one that has since opened the conversation about mental health for professional athletes. Biles – arguably the best gymnast of all time – revealed that she suffered the loss of her aunt during the games, as well as experienced the dangerous "twisties" during the vault competition. As CBS Sports put it:
[There is no] athlete (which is to say: human) with more expectation, hype, marketing and pressure attached to them -- to the point of it practically being an appendage -- at the 2020 Olympics.
Yet, Biles reported leaving Tokyo with a full heart, feeling reinvigorated by the commitment of her fans and support felt from across the world.
2. Skateboarding came to the Olympics. Among the sports added to the Olympic competition this year (including surfing, karate, and sport climbing), skateboarding was among the most entertaining. And, the future of women in skateboarding is bright after Momiji Nishiya, 13, Rayssa Leal, 13, and Funa Nakayama, 16, won gold, silver, and bronze, respectively, for dominating the women’s street event. The girls represented Japan and Brazil, and were seen cheering on competitors throughout the skate-off. Talk about good sportsmanship!
3. The Philippines won their first-ever gold medal. The country took home its first gold medal from Tokyo, after Hidilyn Diaz won gold in 55-kg weightlifting. The champ was seen bursting into tears at the moment of victory, and has since received recognition by major news outlets in the Philippines and across social media. Hooray, Hidilyn!
4. The games were inclusive of transgender athletes for the first time. The competition this year featured the first-ever openly transgender athlete to gain admittance to the games: a weightlifter from New Zealand named Laurel Hubbard. Although she didn't win gold, Hubbard commented in a statement issued by the New Zealand Olympic Committee in June: "I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders." Although Hubbard is the first transgender individual to compete, she promises to not be the last.
As the closing ceremony takes place on Sunday, so too will end the intense years, months and weeks of training for these Summer Games athletes (until, of course, 2024). And, although we've been watching from the couch this whole time, we're left with continuing inspiration by the hard work, physical feats, and mental determination it takes to become an Olympic athlete. Check out the NBC Sports YouTube channel for highlights.
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