Tokyo 2020 Olympics Briefing: Ariarne Titmus, Naomi Osaka And The Youngest Podium In Olympic History

They were a long time coming, but in no way has Tokyo 2020 failed to live up to the hype of an Olympic Games. Perhaps now more than ever, as many of us find ourselves in an extended lockdown, the Games provide a welcome distraction from the minutiae of everyday life. With a simple flick of the channel, we can find ourselves absorbed in the sport of cone slalom or gymnastics, surfing and skateboarding, watching the world’s top athletes give nothing but their all as they look to be victorious and stand atop that medal podium. 

The Games may only have just started, but already Australia’s athletes are proving that they are a force to be reckoned with. Our top athletes have taken to their events with steely-eyed focus and determination, and while not everyone walks away with a gold medal, the way they have conducted themselves is reason alone for celebration. It’s there in our Aussie athletes that we see just what it means to be compassionate, kind and loyal sportspeople. Of course, there are still the upsets that make sport the engaging theatre of triumph and loss that it is. With that in mind, here’s a round-up of key Olympic moments for female athletes at Tokyo 2020.

Ariarne Titmus gets the upper hand

It was the swim of the Olympics, one that saw even Ian Thorpe on the edge of his seat in the commentary box. In the women’s 400m freestyle, Australia’s Ariarne Titmus went head-to-head with Katie Ledeckie, a woman who has often been touted as the greatest swimmer of all time. Despite it being neck-and-neck for much of the swim, Ledeckie tried desperately to make a move and get away from Titmus, who managed to pull her back. But it was in the final 50m that Titmus really showed her gutsy determination, turning on the power to storm away with victory as the whole of Australia cheered her on at home.

Stephanie Gilmore 

While Sally Fitzgibbons is closing in on a medal in the surfing event, it was heartbreak for Aussie’s Steph Gilmore who was eliminated. The seven-time world champion is out of the hunt for a medal after a shock loss to South African Bianca Buttendag. Despite a promising start from Gilmore, Buttendag managed to nail two consecutive waves to score 6.83 and 7.10. Needing a high score and with only 14 minutes remaining, Gilmore couldn’t find a wave. She said, “I looked at that wave and I was like, it doesn’t look that good, so I let her have it and she turned it into a seven, so that was the most frustrating thing to me – like man, I should have just taken that wave.”

Gilmore added, “That’s just the nature of surfing, sometimes the waves are there, sometimes the waves are not.”

Naomi Osaka returns to the court

Two months have elapsed since Naomi Osaka pulled out of the French Open to protect her mental health. In that time she’s faced increasing media scrutiny, but that all went away when she stepped back on the court at Tokyo 2020. She blitzed through her opening match with a win against Zheng Saisai 6-1, 6-4.

13-year-old Momiji Nishiya takes gold

At just 13-years-old, Japan’s Momiji Nishiya has become the second youngest champion in summer Olympics history, taking a win in the inaugural women’s skateboarding street competition. With her penultimate trick in the event, Nishiya took the lead with a score of 15.26. It was enough to put her ahead of fellow competitor (and fellow 13-year-old), Brazil’s Rayssa Leal, who won silver with a score of 14.64. Third place went to 16-year-old Japanese skater, Funa Nakayama, making it the youngest podium in Olympic history.

Women’s hockey team success

The women’s hockey team thrashed China 6-0, cementing their position in the sport as a dominant one as they look to claim a gold medal in the hockey tournament. Their campaign has started off exceptionally well, with wins over China and Spain, however they will now face off against the challenging sides of New Zealand and Argentina. 

Coming up in the Olympics: the women’s basketball team face off against Belgium, the men’s hockey team face Argentina, and there’s also the small matter of a rugby sevens clash with New Zealand. There are medals on offer in artistic gymnastics, canoe slalom, mountain bike cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, judo, rowing, shooting, softball, swimming, taekwondo, triathlon and weightlifting. 

For more of our Olympic coverage, check out the stories below. 

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