Making History at the Olympics 2020: The New Olympic Sports and Athlete Firsts to Know

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The Olympics 2020 are upon us, and with it brings a wide variety of athletes from all over the world showcasing skills that many of us could only ever dream of being able to perform.

In addition to physical feats, the Tokyo Olympics will also bring many firsts.

Four sports made Olympic debuts at Tokyo 2020: surfing, skateboarding, karate and sport climbing. It will also be the first Olympics where transgender athletes have qualified.

To get ready for the Games, which start on July 23, Teen Vogue has a list of notable Olympic “firsts” for you to follow online.

This story will be updated as the Games progress.

Historic Wins

Quinn

Quinn is an Olympic medalist who captured a Bronze at the 2016 Games for Team Canada in soccer. This time around, they came to Tokyo for the first time as their authentic self after coming out as transgender in 2020.

After Team Canada took home the gold on Friday, August 6, Quinn officially became the first-ever openly transgender athlete to win a gold medal in the Olympic games — along with the first openly trans athlete to medal at all. 

In an Instagram post, Quinn talked about the historic nature of their participation in the games:

“First openly trans Olympian to compete. I don’t know how to feel. I feel proud seeing ‘Quinn’ up on the lineup and on my accreditation," they said. “I feel sad knowing there were Olympians before me unable to live their truth because of the world. I feel optimistic for change. Change in legislature. Changes in rules, structures, and mindsets. Mostly, I feel aware of the realities. Trans girls being banned from sports. Trans women facing discrimination and bias while trying to pursue their olympic dreams. The fight isn’t close to over… and I’ll celebrate when we’re all here.”

You can follow Quinn on Twitter and Instagram.

Tamyra Mensah-Stock

An American woman has won Olympic gold for wrestling before, once, back in 2016. But during her first Olympic run in Tokyo, Tamyra Mensah-Stock became the second American woman and the first Black woman ever to take home the gold.

28-year-old Mensah-Stock defeated Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu in the 68-kilogram freestyle final, finishing with a 4-1 victory. Upon winning, Mensah-Stock broke into tears, hugging her coaches and wrapping herself in the American flag. “I knew I could do it," she said. "I knew it would be hard. I prayed I could do it. In my wildest dreams I knew.”

Silver medalist Oborududu also made history as the first Nigerian athlete to win an Olympic medal in the sport. "I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, look at us representing,'" Mensah-Stock told AP, referencing herself and her opponent. “It's so freaking awesome. You're making history, I'm making history. We're making history. So it meant a lot."

Judo Duo

The Abe siblings, Hifumi and Uta of Japan, etched their names into history by becoming the first siblings to both win gold medals in an individual sport on the same day.

21-year-old Uta won gold first in the judo final of the women’s 52-kilogram division, beating out France’s Amandine Buchard. Then 23-year-old Hifumi followed suit, placing first in the men’s 66-kilogram final over Georgia’s Vazha Margvelashvili.

“This has turned out to be the greatest day ever,” Hifumi told the press after the dual win. “I don’t think we, as brother and sister, couldn’t shine any brighter on this stage known as the Tokyo Olympics. So happy.”

According to The Japan Times, Uta is the first gold medalist from Japan in her class and its youngest-ever champion, while Hifumi is the first Japanese judoka to win in his division since 2008.

Suni Lee

Upon 18-year-old Suni Lee's participation in the all-around gymnastics competition for Team USA, she became the first Hmong American to make an Olympic Games. 

In an interview with Elle prior to her qualification for Team USA, Lee’s father commented on her impending achievement. “It would be the greatest accomplishment of any Hmong person in the U.S. ever,” he said. “It will go down in history.”

But that’s not all. Lee was also the first gymnast to beat Simone Biles in any part of the all-around competition since 2013. 

After a shining performance in the all-around final in Tokyo, Lee became the first Hmong American to win a gold medal, scoring 14.600 on vault, 13.833 on balance beam, 13.700 with her floor routine, and an impressive 15.300 for her uneven bars routine — which ESPN reports is the most difficult routine currently being done in competition.

Follow Lee’s journey on Twitter and Instagram.

Super Young Skateboarders

Skateboarding is making its Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020 and its girl athletes have pushed the boundaries of the youngest Olympians. (The sport doesn't have the age restrictions others do.) The youngest Olympic athlete competing in the 2020 Olympics is 12-year-old table tennis player Hend Zaza of Syria — but the next five youngest athletes are all female skateboarders. 

Kokona Hiraki will become Japan’s youngest Olympian at age 12, while Sky Brown (Great Britain) will become her country's youngest at age 13. 

Rayssa Leal (Brazil), also 13, has made waves. Leal ranked second in the Olympic street rankings, according to NBC Sports, and became a silver medalist in the women's street skateboarding final.

Momiji Nishiya of Japan (also 13!) took home the gold, becoming the fifth-youngest gold medalist in Olympic history. According to ESPN, Nishiya and Leal have become their countries’ youngest ever medalists.

Anastasija Zolotic

18-year-old Anastasija Zolotic won the first-ever gold medal for the United States in women’s taekwondo, defeating Russia’s Tatiana Minina 25-17. Zolotic is the fourth American to reach an Olympic taekwondo final, and only the second woman.

"My 8-year-old self was running around the school yard saying I was going to be Olympic champion but she could never have imagined what this moment is like," Zolotic told reporters after claiming the featherweight division title. "It's unbelievable. It really hasn't sunk in yet."

Trans Athletes Come to Tokyo

Laurel Hubbard

Hubbard, a weightlifter from New Zealand, made news as the first transgender athlete to qualify for Tokyo 2020 — and the Olympics in general. At 43, she is the oldest weightlifter who will be going to the Games, an achievement she almost missed out on due to an injury three years ago.

"I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders," Hubbard said in a statement after her qualification. "When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end. But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha [love] carried me through the darkness."

Chelsea Wolfe

Wolfe is heading to Tokyo as an alternate in BMX Freestyle for Team USA, making her the country's first openly trans athlete at the Games.

“I’m so excited and honored to keep working so I’m ready to shred in Tokyo in case I’m needed,” Wolfe, who will compete if one of the other two qualified riders drops out, said according to HuffPost.

Follow her on Twitter and Instagram to see her training.

History Made Before the Games

Alia Issa

The Refugee Olympic and Paralympic teams made their debut at the Rio 2016 Games and will take the stage again at Tokyo 2020. Issa, 20, will be the first woman to represent the Refugee Team in the Paralympics. She is a Syrian refugee who currently lives in Greece and will take part in the club throw.

“I would like to tell people that if they have a child with impairments like me, don’t keep them hidden at home. Encourage them to participate in sport,” Issa said, according to the UNHCR.

Janja Garnbret  and Tomoa Narasaki

Sport climbing is one of the sports to make its debut at Tokyo 2020, and Garnbret and Narasaki are the favorites to win gold in the women’s and men’s events respectively. Garnbret hails from Slovenia, while Narasaki will represent the host country Japan. Just make sure not to blink while watching either of their events as you may miss them.

Follow Garnbret's journey on Instagram, and Narasaki here.

Sakura Kokumai

Sakura Kokumai originally qualified for Tokyo 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sporting world, and she did so in the sport of karate, another Olympic debutant in Tokyo 2020. She was the first U.S. athlete to qualify for the sport. She has a shot at a medal in the kata discipline. Follow Kokumai on Twitter and Instagram.

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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue