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Olympics firsts: These athletes are making history at the Tokyo Games

TODAY logo TODAY 8/5/2021 Lisa Tolin

Bringing home the gold is a big deal for anyone. But for Carissa Moore, it also makes her the first woman to win a gold medal in her sport, the new Olympic sport of surfing.

"It's been a long journey to get to this moment," the 28-year-old from Hawaii told TODAY.

For Philippines weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, bringing home gold makes her the first her in her country's history to win gold. And Edgar Cheung Ka-long's gold in fencing made him an instant hero in Hong Kong as the first gold medalist since the territory's handover to China.

Related: After two days of competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, history has been made!

History is being made at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, and TODAY spoke to many of the athletes bringing home new hardware for their countries. Here's a list of firsts at the Games, still officially called the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

  • Katie Ledecky became the first woman swimmer to earn six individual gold medals over her career.
  • Carissa Moore is the first woman ever to win a gold medal in surfing at the Olympics, a sport that debuted in 2021.
  • All-around gold-medalist Suni Lee is the first Hmong American gymnast to represent her country on the U.S. Olympics team.
  • Sport climber Nathaniel Coleman won silver in the Olympic sport's debut.
  • Philippines weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz became her country's first Olympic gold medalist, winning the women's 55kg.
  • Fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long is bringing home Hong Kong's first gold since the territory's handover to China in 1997, sending a rush of students to fencing school.
  • Flora Duffy won the first gold medal for Bermuda in the women’s triathlon. Bermuda's 65,000 residents could all fit into the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, according to the AP.
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  • U.S. fencer Lee Kiefer, 27, a medical student at the University of Kentucky, is the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in individual foil.
  • Anastasija Zolotic, 18, became the first American woman to win Olympic gold in Taekwondo.
  • Twenty-year-old Will Shanerwon the first U.S. gold in the men's 10-meter air rifle.
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  • Jagger Eaton brought home the first U.S. medal in skateboarding as the sport debuted in the Olympic Games. Yuto Horigome of Japan won the first gold medal in the sport.
  • Japan's 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya became the first gold medalist in women's street skateboarding and Japan's youngest-ever Olympic medalist.
  • Chase Kalisz brought home the first gold medal for the U.S. from Tokyo in the men’s 400-meter individual medley.
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  • Lydia Jacoby, 17, was first to win gold for the U.S. women's swimming team and is the first Alaskan to win gold in swimming.
  • Tamyra Mensah-Stock became the first Black American woman to win wrestling gold.
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  • New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first transgender athlete to qualify for the Olympics’ 125-year history.
  • Quinn, a member of the Canadian women's soccer team, made history as the first transgender athlete to compete, during a July 24 game against Japan.
  • Skateboarder Alana Smith is the first openly nonbinary athlete to compete in the Games.

Related: Skateboarder Alana Smith said competing reignited their love for skateboarding and made them feel "happy to be alive."

  • Anna Kiesenhofer of Austria won the women's road race to capture her nation's first Olympic cycling gold medal in 125 years.
  • The U.S. men's basketball team lost to France, its first loss since 2004.
  • The U.S. women's 3x3 basketball team became the first to win gold in the new Olympic sport.
a person on a court: Uta Abe competes in Judo (Vincent Kalut / Photonews / Getty Images) © Vincent Kalut Uta Abe competes in Judo (Vincent Kalut / Photonews / Getty Images)
  • Japan’s Abe Uta and older brother Abe Hifumi became the first brother and sister to win golds at the same Games, in judo.
  • Turkmenistan's Polina Guryeva was the first athlete representing an independent Turkmenistan, rather than the former Soviet Union, to win a medal, with silver in weightlifting.
  • For the first time since 1972, the U.S. did not win a medal on the first day of the Olympic Games.
  • South Korea won the first medal in mixed team archery, another new event at the Games.
  • Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito became the first non-Chinese players to win gold in table tennis since 2004.
  • According to the International Olympics Committee, the 2021 Tokyo Games are the first to be gender-balanced, with 49 percent women competing.
  • Men and women swam the same race in another Olympic first, as the mixed relay race made its Olympic debut.
  • 29-year-old Krysta Palmer became the first American woman to earn a medal in an individual diving event in 21 years.
  • The tiny European nation of San Marino (population 34,000) became the smallest country to medal at the Games, with a bronze for Alessandra Perilli in women's trap shooting.
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