Rio 2016: Olympic Firsts

August 19, 2016  |  
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If you’ve been tuning into the Olympics over the last few weeks, you know that Black athletes from every corner of the earth have been slaying left and right. Even if you haven’t been watching, chances are you haven’t been able to escape the great and inspiring news on social media. That includes making history, breaking longstanding records and setting new ones, championing body positivity, retiring on the highest of high notes (we see you, Usain Bolt!), and a whole host of other Olympic firsts that make us proud. It’s fitting that this games would be filled with so many groundbreaking firsts, considering that Rio de Janeiro is part of a first as well. The jewel of Brazil is the first South American city to host an Olympics. It’s been a great one.

Check out some of the outstanding historic feats that these medal-winning athletes from the U.S. and beyond have made in Rio. Congrats to all of the Olympic athletes!



Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Catlin

The three hurdlers made history, with Rollins leading the first-ever USA sweep of the 100-meter hurdles. Ali took home silver, Catlin earned bronze.


Simone Biles

Simone Biles is the first…Simone Biles. The gymnastics phenom won five medals in Rio – four gold and one bronze for vault, floor exercise, individual and team all-around, as well as balance beam. She is the first U.S. gymnast to win four gold medals in a single Olympics.

Simone Manuel

Swimmer Simone Manuel took home a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle, making her the first African-American woman to win gold in individual swimming. But the medals didn’t end there. She won gold in the 4x100m medley relay, silver in the 50-meter freestyle and silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

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One step at a time #Rio2016

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Usain Bolt

In Rio, the world’s fastest man became the first track athlete to win three Olympic gold medals in the 100-meter relay. Talk about retiring with a bang.

Daryl D. Homer

Fencer Daryl D. Homer is the first American in 112 years to win a medal in men’s sabre fencing. He took home the silver medal for Team USA.

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"All Praise Due To The Most High" #StayMe7o

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Carmelo Anthony

Team USA basketball player Carmelo Anthony became the country’s all-time leading scorer in Rio. Exactly how many points has he scored? A total of 293.

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El dolor es temporal la victoria es para siempre 👈

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Yulimar Rojas

Hailing from Venezuela, track and field star Yulimar Rojas made history as her country’s first female athlete to win a silver medal at the Olympics for the triple jump.

Ruth Jebet

A Kenyan-born athlete competing for Bahrain, Ruth Jebet won gold in the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase, Bahrain’s first Olympic gold medal in any sport.

Wayde van Niekerk

Not only did this South African athlete win his country’s first gold medal of the Rio Olympic games, but he also broke a 17-year record held by Michael Johnson by winning the 400-meter in 43.03 seconds. Pure gold.

Elaine Thompson

Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson became the first woman since FloJo to complete the 100 and 200-meter sprint doubles. Thompson won gold in each race.

Tianna and Brittney

Marking the first time the U.S. went first and second in the women’s long jump, Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese took home gold and silver medals, respectively.

Mutaz Barshim

High-jumper Mutaz Barshim won a silver medal, the first ever for Qatar.

Rafaela Silva

The proud distinction of being Brazil’s first gold medalist in the Rio Olympic games goes to judoka Rafaela Silva. The hometown champ, who endured countless spouts of racism and sexism from a young age, made history.

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