On Monday morning in Tokyo, Adam Peaty successfully defended his title in the Men’s 100 metre Breaststroke from the 2016 Games, recording a time of 57.37 for the fifth fastest time of all-time. Peaty has now cemented his status as one of the most dominant breaststroke swimmers ever, as he now holds all of the top 16 times that has ever been recorded at the 100 metre Breaststroke. In comparison, Usain Bolt only holds four of the top times in the Track 100 metre dash.
Peaty’s historic races, as well as the performance of his other teammates highlight the strides the British swim team has taken to reach this level. Freestyle specialists Tom Dean and Duncan Scott won gold and silver respectively for Britain’s first top two podium appearances in a swimming event since 1908. The British team also won gold in the Men’s 4×200 metre Freestyle Relay.
Canada’s Penny Oleksiak became the most decorated after winning bronze at the Women’s 200 metre Freestyle on Wednesday. With six career medals, the 21-year old Toronto-native now passes distance runner Phil Edwards and rower Lesley Thompson-Willie for the all-time lead. She also ties Canada’s all-time medal record held by Olympians Clara Hughes and Cindy Klassen.
On Monday, Australia’s Ariarne Titmus posted a breakthrough performance in the Women’s 400 metre Freestyle, defeating longtime champion Katie Ledecky of USA for gold. However, all eyes were on Titmus’ coach Dean Boxall as he had quite the reaction to her win.
Simone Biles opted out from the Women’s Team All-Around event on Tuesday. As Biles had started off the team event with uncharacteristic errors, she decided to drop out of the event to preserve. her mental health and her team’s ability to contend. She later told media that she was experiencing the ‘twisties,’ a loss of spatial perception experienced by gymnasts. Alongside fellow national Naomi Osaka, who excused herself from media interviews at the French Open earlier in July, both competitors have become leading figures in advocating for mental health among athletes.
Bermuda’s Flora Duffy won gold in the Women’s Individual Triathlon on Monday to secure the island nation’s first ever gold at the Games. Similarly, the Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz won her country’s first ever gold medal in 96 years after winning the Weightlifting Women’s 55 kg event.
Skateboarders Momiji Nishiya of Japan and Rayssa Leal of Brazil made history as they won gold and silver respectively in the inaugural Skateboarding Women’s Street event. As both skateboarders are only 13 years old, they are among one of the youngest Olympians to win medals.
Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina immortalised her name in the record books after competing in her eighth and final career Olympics. Retiring at 46 years of age, she made her debut at the 1992 Games in Barcelona where she won gold for the former Soviet states competing under the Unified Team. Afterwards, she would later compete for Uzbekistan, Germany, before switching back to Uzbekistan. Chusovitina had chosen to compete well past her prime to pay medical bills for her son when he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002.
When Iranian-born judoka Saeid Mollaei was ordered by his team to forfeit his match at the 2019 World Championships, Mollaei said that he was afraid to return to Iran as he had criticised the Iranian team’s stance. The Iranian team had wanted Mollaei to avoid a potential matchup with Sagi Muki, an Israeli judoka. In the same year, Mollaei was granted asylum in Germany and was later offered citizenship by Mongolia, as its current president was the former chairman of the Mongolian Judo Federation. Now competing under the Mongolian team at the Olympics this year, Mollaei won a silver medal at the Men’s 81 kg bout. He then dedicated his medal to Muki.
Judokas Clarisse Agbegnenou of France and Tina Trstenjak of Slovenia faced off in the Women’s Judo 63 kg gold medal bout on Tuesday, in a rematch from the 2016 Games. As Trstenjak was the victor five years ago, this time Agbegnenou emerged as the gold medallist in a golden score contest. Their respect towards each other after the match is a prime example of the spirit of Olympians.
While the country is known for its dominance in speed skating at the Winter Games, the Netherlands opened eyes by winning eight medals over the span of a day. The team’s performance broke a national record that was set when the Netherlands hosted the 1928 Games in Amsterdam.
Above Featured Image: Great Britain’s Adam Peaty dives off the starting block as the Men’s 100 metre Breaststroke final begins. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)