Here Are Our Top 5 Memorable Moments for Women at Tokyo Olympics

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The Summer Games have officially wound down in Tokyo, Japan, doing so with much fanfare in Sunday's closing ceremonies. After more than a year of setbacks and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's Games will easily go down in history. In looking back at the last few weeks of wins, losses, laughs, and tears, we've rounded up a few of the most memorable moments for female athletes. 

1. Simone Biles Withdrew From Competitions in an Effort To Take Care of Her Mental Health

The gymnast, who is widely regarded as the best in the world, shocked the world when she withdrew from both the U.S. team final and individual all-around competition in gymnastics at the end of July. The 24-year-old revealed she'd been suffering from "the twisties," a mental state causing an athlete to lose themselves in the air while twisting, and did not want to risk getting injured or cost her team a medal. Biles' U.S. teammates ultimately nabbed the silver medal and she told reporters after: "Once I came out here [to compete], I was like, 'No, mental is not there, so I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.'"

2. Sunisa Lee Became the First Hmong American To Earn an Olympic Medal

After Biles withdrew from the competition, Lee told CNN that she had been "starting to put a little bit too much pressure on myself." "Knowing that Simone was gone, I feel like people kind of put that pressure on me that I had to come back with a medal." Ultimately, Lee scored a 57.433 and took the gold over Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade, who took silver, and Russia’s Angelina Melnikova, who took bronze.

3. The U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team Won Its First Gold Medal Ever

In an impassioned interview after the game against Brazil this weekend, viewers can hear and see the pure emotion as coach Karch Kiraly and middle blocker Haleigh Washington celebrate tearfully. We cannot recommend you watch (and rewatch) enough.

4. Team USA’s Raven Saunders Wins Second-Place for Women’s Shot Put and Speaks Out for the Oppressed

The 25-year-old raised her hands in an "X" formation above her head reportedly to show “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.” In an interview after the move, Saunders emphasized that winning was about more than just herself: “I feel amazing, because I know I'm going to inspire so many people. About to inspire so many young girls, so many young boys, so many LGBTQ people, people who have battled suicide. So many people would have almost given's not, it's not just about me.”

5. Ilona Maher’s Behind-the-Scenes-and-Around-the-Olympic-Village TikTok Coverage Has Been Equal Parts Illuminating and Hilarious

A member of Team USA's rugby team, Maher has shown that fun can be had both on and off the field with her TikTok updates throughout this year's Olympics. From showing fans the intricacies of the cardboard beds athletes were given to sleep on to joking about how hot her fellow Olympians are, Maher is definitely someone we'll be watching on social media for long after the Olympics are done.

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Written By

Rose Low

Rose Low is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a love for romantic comedies. See Full Bio

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