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A microstate so small it takes just 25 minutes to drive across became the smallest nation ever to win an Olympic medal

INSIDER logo INSIDER 7/29/2021 (Sam Cooper)
a person holding a cell phone: San Marino has a population below the capacity of the smallest NFL stadium. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images © Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images San Marino has a population below the capacity of the smallest NFL stadium. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

San Marino on Thursday became the smallest country to ever win an Olympic medal as Alessandra Perilli took bronze in the women's trap-shooting event.

The microstate, which is surrounded on all sides by Italy, has a population of just 33,860 and had never earned a medal in any of its previous 23 Olympic appearances. San Marino is so small that at its widest point crossing the whole country by car takes only 25 minutes.

The 33-year-old Perilli scored 29 points in the final - 14 behind the winner, Zuzana Rehak Stefecekova of Slovakia, who set an Olympic record on her way to gold, and just three points ahead of the Australian Laetisha Scanlan, who placed fourth. Kayle Browning of the US won the silver.

The medal will taste extra sweet for Perilli, who came so close to the same feat at the 2012 London Games. Competing in her first Olympics, the shooter finished in a three-way tie for second place, but in the following shoot-off she missed first.

Following a disappointing Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she did not qualify for the finals, she came to Tokyo with a renewed motivation and has made history, ousting Liechtenstein as the smallest nation by population to win an Olympic medal.

San Marino isn't the first country to make medal history in Tokyo.

Bermuda's Flora Duffy earlier won gold in the women's triathlon, making her home nation the smallest by land size to win an Olympic gold medal, while Hidilyn Diaz, a weightlifter from the Philippines, became her country's first gold medalist.

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