Home > Uncategorized > These People Won Their Country’s Only Medal At the 2016 Rio Olympics

These People Won Their Country’s Only Medal At the 2016 Rio Olympics

With 121 medals won, the United States won nearly a third of all medals in the 2016 games. They also led with 46 golds. But way at the other end of the table are the countries that only won one medal. Here’s a brief look at the newest national heroes in those countries.

Countries Whose Only Medal Was Gold

Fiji – Men’s Rugby

Rugby is far and away the top sport in Fiji, a tiny island nation with a population of just over 800,000 (or in other terms, just slightly more than the population of South Dakota). But Fiji is a rugby powerhouse. They’ve won two Rugby Sevens World Cups and now the gold medal in the 2016 Olympics. Not only was this Fiji’s first ever medal in rugby, it was its first medal of any kind in the history of the Olympics.

Jordan – Ahmad Abughaush (Taekwondo)

The gold medalist in the 68 kg event, Abughaush defeated Russian Alexey Denisenko in the gold medal bout. Notably, he overcame a knee injury in 2013 to rebound and like Fiji, win his country’s first ever medal.

Kosovo – Majlinda Kelmendi (Judo)

Kelmendi won judo gold at the 52 kg weight class. She also won gold at the 2013 world championships (also in Rio), and the 2014 and 2016 European Championships. Kelmendi represented Albania at the 2012 games in London, but switched after Kosovo’s Olympic Committee was officially recognized in 2014. Kelmendi was Kosovo’s flag bearer in 2016 and is the nation’s first medalist.

Puerto Rico – Monica Puig (Tennis)

A longshot to medal, Puig has won just two singles titles on the pro tour in her entire career and is currently ranked 34th in the world. She is the first unseeded woman to win gold in olympic tennis, and is Puerto Rico’s first ever gold medalist.

Singapore – Joseph Schooling (Swimming)

The now famous picture of Schooling and Michael Phelps is likely how most were introduced to the swimmer who competes collegiate for Texas, but Schooling now is more famous for setting an olympic record in the 100 meter butterfly, winning Singapore’s first gold medal, and its first swimming medal of any kind.

Tajikistan – Dilshod Nazarov (Athletics)

Nazarov won gold in the hammer throw, throwing it 78.68 meters. This was his fourth Olympics and, stop me if you’ve heard this before, Tajikistan’s first ever gold medal.

Countries Whose Only Medal Was Silver

Burundi – Francine Niyonsaba (Athletics)

Niyonsaba won silver in the 800 meters, and also has a gold at the 800 meters in the 2016 World Indoor Championships. She set the Burundi national record in the event in just her third ever race, and has lowered that record more than five times.

Grenada – Kirani James (Athletics)

The gold medalist in the 400 meters in London, James managed only a silver this time around. James ran collegiately at Alabama, setting the school record in the 400 in his first ever race there. He is one of just four men to win world titles at the youth, junior, and senior level in the same event.

Niger – Issoufou Alfaga Abdoulrazak (Taekwondo)

He was the flag bearer for the closing ceremony for Niger after winning the country’s first ever silver medal in the Olympics. The 21 year old also won gold at the 2015 African games. Abdoulrazak notably was forbidden to do taekwondo by his family after a cousin tragically died while fighting, but his uncle in Togo introduced him to the sport nonetheless.

Philippines – Hidilyn Diaz (Weightlifting)

Diaz competed in the 53 kg division in 2016, and lifted an insane 88 kg in the snatch and 112 kg in the clean and jerk. It was the Philippines’ first medal in 20 years, and the nation’s first medal in a sport other than boxing since 1936.

Qatar – Mutaz Essa Barshim (Athletics)

By grabbing silver in the high jump, Barshim backed up his 2012 bronze medal and silver at the 2013 world championships. His personal best of 2.43 meters is the second highest jump of all time.

Countries Whose Only Medal Was Bronze

Austria – Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank (Sailing)

Zajac and Frank won bronze in the mixed Nacra 17 event. The Nacra 17 is a catamaran designed in 2011 and it was officially chosen in 2012 as the boat to be used for multihull competition at the 2016 Olympics.

Dominican Republic – Luisito Pie (Taekwondo)

The 22 year old has one of the more interesting backstories of any athlete in the 2016 games. To get into it fully would require a lot of explaining about Dominican (and Haitian) law, but a Haitian publication has alleged that Luisito Pie is not his real name and he is actually from Haiti. In any event, Pie was the closing ceremony flag bearer and given a house as a reward for his bronze medal.

Estonia – Tonu Endrekson, Andrei Jamsa,  Allar Raja, Kaspar Taimsoo (Rowing)

These four gentlemen won bronze in the quadruple scull, a massive improvement from 9th in Athens, 17th in Bejing, and fourth in London. This team was a mashup of a couple different rowing squads in Estonia, and they saw immediate success, including a gold at the 2016 European Championships.

Finland – Mira Potkonen (Boxing)

The 35 year old lightweight won her first ever Olympic medal after winning her first ever world championship medal earlier in 2016. She knocked out defending gold medalist Katie Taylor in the first round.

Morocco – Mohammed Rabii (Boxing)

The welterweight won gold at the 2015 world championships. He is the first African to win gold in the boxing world championships. Rabii also wrestles for the Atlas Lions in the World Series of Boxing.

Moldova – Serghei Tarnovschi (Canoe/Kayak)

Tarnovschi won bronze in the C-1000 sprint canoe race (for the layperson, those are the canoe races that are similar to the rowing races, not the whitewater events). Tarnovschi’s tale might have a sad ending, as he failed a doping test.

Nigeria – Men’s Soccer

One of the great stories of the 2016 games, Nigeria finally made it to Rio after fighting with its federation (which continued during the games – Nigeria threatened to boycott the quarterfinal due to lack of pay), and being stranded in Atlanta until the morning of its first game. Nigeria didn’t make it to Rio until its first game, but beat Japan 5-4 and parlayed that into a bronze medal finish. A Japanese surgeon has also given the team nearly $400,000 for that bronze medal finish.

Portugal – Telma Monteiro (Judo)

Monteiro won her first ever Olympic medal at these games after numerous successes in European and World Championships. Monteiro overcame a knee injury suffered just months before the games to claim Portugal’s 24th ever medal in the Summer Olympics.

Trinidad and Tobago – Keshorn Walcott (Athletics)

The gold medalist in the javelin in 2012, Walcott had to settle for silver in 2016. Walcott had the most meteoric rise in javelin history, taking up the sport at 15 and as a 19 year old he became the first person in athletics to win a world junior title and Olympic gold in the same year.

United Arab Emirates – Sergiu Toma (Judo)

Toma is originally from Moldova and competed for the country until he was naturalized in 2013. Toma won just the second Olympic medal ever for UAE in these games. He was ranked 9th in the world in his weight class before the Olympics.

 

 

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