The 2020 Tokyo Olympics got off to a rough start, with a pandemic ravaging the world, leading to months of cancellations and delays. However, it’s not all doom and gloom when three young athletes just made American history by winning the 1st Olympic Gold Medals for the U.S. in their respective sports.
Their names? Will Shaner, Lee Kiefer, and Anastasija Zolotic; all young, all ambitious, all American. These three athletes embodied the American spirit by going out there and making their mark in the world, winning the first gold medal ever for the U.S. in their respective sports.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into each athlete and how they were able to make history in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics!
Will Shaner: Shooting For the Gold
Will Shaner is only twenty years old, making him the youngest man ever to qualify for an Olympic rifle competition. This is quite an accomplishment because shooting has been a featured sport in the Olympics since the first modern games in 1896!
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the young man also broke a record! During the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Will Shaner broke China’s Sheng Lihao record by a whopping 0.7 points, Sheng Lao trailing behind with 250.9 points and Shaner soaring past him with 251.6 points!
Will Shaner celebrated the victory by posting a picture of himself biting the gold medal he got from winning the 10m air rifle competition.
This is the second gold medal for the U.S. in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, just a smidge after Chase Kalisz’s win in the men’s 400-meter individual medley.
Lee Kiefer: Sword Fighting To Victory!
Fencing has been an Olympic Sport for a very long time, dating as far back as 1896! And just like the art of fencing, Lee Kiefer has been in the game for a long time and amassed a massive number of championships and awards.
Lee Kiefer was already a star before coming to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She was a three-time Conference Team Champion, four-time NCAA National Champion, one-time Team NCAA National Champion, and most impressive of all, the first U.S. Women’s Foil fencer to be ranked number 1 in the world!
At just twenty-seven years old, Lee Kiefer is quite an accomplished young woman, and now she can add a gold medal to her long list of accolades! In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Lee Kiefer beat the reigning Olympic champion Inna Deriglazova 15-13.
This is the first U.S. fencing medal for the U.S. at the 2020 games and Kiefer’s first gold medal, too! She finished fifth at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London but came back with a vengeance and took Tokyo by storm. Her medal became the ninth medal overall for the U.S. during the Tokyo games.
Lee Kiefer’s husband, Gerek Meinhardt, is also another highly accomplished athlete, following his wife being an Olympian-level fencer! He also has a long list of accolades, including ¨two-time individual NCAA champion, 11-time team Pan American champion, three-time individual Pan American champion, 2019 team world champion, three-time Olympian, and 2016 Olympic medalist¨.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic’s fencing power couple celebrated Kiefer’s win by taking a picture of her smiling proudly at the camera, showing her gold medal in all its glory. Lee Kiefer posted this photo on her Instagram, and her husband celebrated her accomplishment on social media as well, writing about how proud he was of his wife for taking home the gold!
Anastasija Zolotic: Take-Wondo The Gold!
Anastasija Zolotic is a sport’s legend through and through. During her first-ever Olympic appearance at the tender age of eighteen, she became the first American woman to win a gold medal in taekwondo. The last American who was able to take home the most significant price was a man, Steven Lopez, in 2004.
A true underdog story, Zolotic defeated Tatiana Menina, an experienced athlete who is five years older than her and a two-time silver medalist at the World Taekwondo Championships and a three-time gold medalist at the European Taekwondo Championships.
Despite being up against such an accomplished rival, Zoolitic could take her down in near record-breaking time and secure the gold for the U.S.!
Zolotic may also not be such an underdog after all. Looking back at her young career, the young athlete has secured a massive number of accolades, including winning gold medals at the ¨Pan American Games and the World Taekwondo Junior Championships, not to mention a silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018¨.
Anastasija has truly made her mark on the world not only by being the first-ever female Taekwondo winner for the U.S. but also by securing her first gold of many more to come! The world will watch her career with great interest.
America’s Other Wins
After just two days of competition, the U.S. Olympic team has gathered a whopping ten medals total! This looks like an excellent year for the U.S. in the Olympic games.
Apart from the three historic golds won by Shaner, Kiefer, and Zolotic, the U.S. has also won several impressive medals. 20-year-old athlete Jagger Eaton won the bronze medal in the first-ever Olympic skateboarding final in the men’s street competition.
The U.S. swimming team also brought home no more than six medals on their first night of swimming. Several female athletes were destroying the glass ceiling by winning quite a few medals.
The Bottom Line
All in all, this has been a fantastic start for the U.S. in the 2020 Olympic Games. While these are some of the 1st Olympic Gold Medals for the U.S., from the talents of their athletes, it’s pretty clear that there are many more to come! Stay tuned to find out everything else about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics!