There have been some major upsets, surprises, and victories to date (the date is Monday, August 2, 2021). I’ve compiled some of them here. The definition of “victory” and “upset” here are in relation to medal standing, which I admittedly disagree with on principle, because I think that there are so many personal victories that are more worth celebrating. I also don’t like the whole idea of global superpowers battling for cultural and athletic supremacy through human athletes.
And yet…I do think it’s a victory and an upset to pre-existing expectations that, for example, Indonesia’s women’s doubles team fought as hard as they did and won, and I do think it’s an unexpected victory that Hmong American gymnast Suni Lee won gold in All-Around. So sure, call me a hypocrite; honestly, my whole obsession with the Olympics is in opposition to probably most of my social values. 🤡
Anyway, I hope that maybe you enjoy this (very in-comprehensive) round-up. Feel free to drop anything I missed in the comments!
Mon Aug 2 (Tokyo Time)
>Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu strike gold in women’s doubles badminton, giving the SE Asian nation their first gold of the Games. They edged out China’s Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan, who took home silver, while South Korea’s Kong Hee-yong and Kim So-yeong won bronze. All-Asian podium, baby, we love to see it.
>Denmark beats China in men’s singles badminton. I don’t want to talk about it…but basically Viktor Axelsen (DEN) wins gold; Chen Long (CHN) wins silver; and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (INA) wins bronze, a victory for the first-time Olympian.
Sun Aug 1
>India’s P.V. Sindhu beats China’s He Bingjiao to win bronze in the women’s singles badminton event. China’s Chen Yufei wins gold, while Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying wins silver.
>Artem Dolgopyat (Israel) wins the men’s gymnastics floor exercise, which is a very poor judgment call imo, because his routine was rocky at best, his lines sucked, his style and grace were nonexistent, and he was unpleasant to watch. Both China’s Xiao Ruoteng (bronze) and Spain’s Rayderley Zapata (silver) had stronger routines and cleaner execution. This continues a trend I’ve noticed of the men’s gymnastics judges this year being complete flops.
Sat July 31
>Malaysia wins bronze in the men’s doubles badminton event. Not an upset per se, but a victory worth sharing. Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik fall onto the ground, overjoyed:
>Taiwan wins gold over China in men’s badminton doubles. That’s Lee Yang & Wang Chi-lin of Taiwan, and Li Junhui & Liu Yuchen of China. China usually dominates badminton, but at this Olympics, there have been several big upsets to China’s winning badminton streak.
>France’s team wins gold over Japan’s team in mixed team judo. I have feelings about martial arts like judo, karate, and taekwondo being in the Olympics and how the corporatization of them feels icky… More on that later though, maybe.
Friday, July 30
>Japan wins its first gold in the men’s team épée fencing competition, with the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) winning silver, and Korea winning bronze. There are literally 9 athletes per team, so I won’t list them all.
>Chinese swimmer Wang Shun wins the gold in the men’s 200m individual medley, beating Britain’s Duncan Scott by 0.28 seconds, followed by Switzerland’s Jeremy Desplanches.
Thu July 29
>SUNI LEE BECOMES FIRST HMONG AMERICAN TO WIN AN OLYMPIC MEDAL, AND NOT ONLY THAT, IT’S IN WOMEN’S ALL-AROUND. All my Hmong friends were popping off. I heard cries of joy from Frogtown as I sat in my Minneapolis living room gasping (jk, I couldn’t hear Frogtown, but I heard them in my heart and on social media).
>Indonesia’s Rahmat Erwin Abdullah wins bronze in men’s 73kg weightlifting, a feat for the Southeast Asian nation.
>China wins gold in the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay, beating out favorites Team USA, featuring Katie Ledecky, and Team Australia. The four Chinese swimmers—YANG Junxuan, TANG Muhan, ZHANG Yufei, and LI Bingjie, pictured below— also set a world record.
>Chinese swimmer Zhang Yufei wins the gold in the women’s 200m butterfly, while setting an Olympic record. She beat out two American swimmers, who took 2nd and 3rd.
Wed July 28
>Daiki Hashimoto of Japan wins the men’s all-around gymnastics gold medal. China’s Xiao Ruoteng wins silver, and Nikita Nagornyy (ROC) wins bronze. Personally, I liken Xiao Ruoteng’s style to Michelle Kwan and Daiki Hashimoto’s style to Tara Lipinski. So I’m happy for Hashimoto, but I still think Xiao should’ve won. This is yet another time that I disagreed with the men’s gymnastics judges.
Tue July 27
>Japan wins softball gold over the US.
>Simone Biles begins pulling out of her team and solo events to take care of her mental health.
> Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi wins silver in men’s shortboard surfing. Brazil’s Italo Ferreira wins gold, and Japan’s Amuro Tsuzuki wins bronze for women’s shortboard. I know nothing about surfing, so I have no idea if these are actually upsets.
>Naomi Osaka loses to Marketa Vondrousova very early in the women’s tennis singles competition. Between that and Australia’s Ash Barty losing, Olympic tennis was shook, and I no longer cared to watch.
Monday, July 26
>Hong Konger Edgar Cheung Ka-long wins gold in the men’s individual foil finals, beating defending Olympic champ Daniele Garrozo.
>Mima Ito and Jun Mizutani (JPN) beat China’s Liu Shiwen and Xu Xin (CHN) to win gold in the mixed team table tennis event. Apparently Ito and Mizutani have gotten some ugly online hate from Chinese fans, which is not ok, so eff that.
>HILDILYN DIAZ WINS PHILLIPPINES FIRST EVER GOLD MEDAL, over world champion Liao Qiuyun of China in the women’s 55kg weightlifting competition.
>Momiji Nishiya, age 13, of Japan, wins the gold medal in the women’s street skateboarding competition. Rayssa Leal (BRA) wins silver; Funa Nakayama (JPN) wins bronze. I found the street event to be very boring, because basically, they are all just skating down a railing, which I’m sure is hard but is just not compelling to watch? But I’m happy for these young teens anyway.
Sat July 24
>Panipak Wongpattanakit of Thailand wins the country’s first gold of the 2020 (2021) Games in taekwondo.