Tokyo 2021: Biles, Dressel, Thompson, Warholm… The stars who marked these Olympic Games

Ahmed Hafnaoui, Simone Biles, Caeleb Dressel, Clarisse Agbégnénou, Tatjana Schoenmaker, Elaine Thompson-Herah, Neeraj Chopra and Karsten Warholm during the Tokyo Olympics.

© Lucy Nicholson, Carl Recine, Sergio Perez, Marko Djurica, Hannah McKay, Lindsey Wasson, Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters - RFI montage

Text by: Nicolas Bamba Follow

17 mins

From July 23 to August 8, 11,000 sportsmen and women competed to win the 1,078 medals to grab.

And on all terrains, the exploits followed one another in Tokyo.

A look back at the men and women who left their mark on these Olympics.


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Elaine Thompson-Herah - Jamaica - Athletics

Usain Bolt retired, the new boss of the Jamaican sprint is Elaine Thompson-Herah.

At 29, the Jamaican has been exceptional in Tokyo.

Already in gold in Rio in 2016 over 100m and 200m, she did it again in Japan: 10''61 over 100m and

21''53 over 200m

, the second best time of all time each time (behind the 10 '' Florence Griffith-Joyner's controversial 49 and 21''34 in 1988).

With the 4x100m relay, Elaine Thompson-Herah also won the gold medal, after the silver in Rio.

Mission Accomplished! Final goal took team work, thanks to these wonderful ladies Briana Williams, Shelly Ann Frazer Pyrce and Shericka Jackson.

Tokyo has been awesome for me 3/3 all glory to God.

Happy Independence Day Jamaica 🇯🇲 nuff love ❤️ # HistoryBooks #Hisglory ETH ..

- Elaine Thompson Herah (@FastElaine) August 6, 2021

Caeleb Dressel - United States - Swimming

In 2016, he had taken two gold medals in relay but was still in the shadow of the great Michael Phelps.

Since the latter retired from the pools, Caeleb Dressel is the boss.

And he showed it in Tokyo brilliantly with five gold medals: 50m (21''07, Olympic record), 100m (47''02, Olympic record), 100m butterfly (49''45, world), 4x100m (3'08''97) and 4x100m medley (3'26''78, world record).

The 24-year-old American admitted that his Olympic week was nerve-racking.

That didn't stop him from gobbling up the gold medals.

Kartsen Warholm and Sydney McLaughlin - Norway and USA - Athletics

The world records in the 400m hurdles took a big hit during the Olympic finals.

On August 3, the Norwegian Karsten Warholm,

at the end of an anthology race

, exploded his own world record: 45''97, against 46''70 previously!

The American Rai Benjamin signed a 46''17 gun behind him, but insufficient against the first man to break the 46 seconds barrier.

The next day, in the women's final, the same pattern: the American Dalilah Muhammad was very strong (51''58), but not enough against her compatriot Sydney McLaughlin, Olympic champion

by clearly improving her world record

(51 '' 46 against 51''90 previously).

American Sydney McLaughlin, Olympic champion and world record holder in the 400m hurdles, on August 4, 2021 in Tokyo.


Clarisse Agbégnénou - France - Judo

Flag bearer of the French delegation, Clarisse Agbégnénou arrived in Japan with a clear objective: the individual gold medal, the only title that was still missing from her record.

In 2016, she lost to Slovakia Tina Trstenjak in the final.

This year, the two women found themselves in the final.

And this time,

Clarisse Agbégnénou took her revenge


Overwhelmed by emotion, the Frenchwoman can savor.

She added a second gold charm to the team competition.

Alexander Zverev - Germany - Tennis

Novak Djokovic seemed launched like a missile towards his golden Grand Slam goal over one season (the four Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympic gold medal), which only Steffi Graf managed in 1988. But in the semi-finals, the Serbian exploded in midair in front of Alexander Zverev.

Led 6-1, 3-2 with a break against him, the German overthrew the world number one and won (1-6, 6-3, 6-1).

In the final, he beat the Russian Karen Khachanov (6-3, 6-1).

Alexander Zverev is the first German to be crowned Olympic champion in men's singles.

German tennis player Alexander Zverev during the final of the Tokyo Olympics on August 1, 2021. REUTERS - EDGAR SU

Ahmed Hafnaoui - Tunisia - Swimming

Qualified for the 400m final with the eighth and last time of the series, Ahmed Hafnaoui was not expected on the podium.

The 18-year-old Tunisian has yet beaten everyone's pawn in the final from his lane n ° 8.

In ambush among the first three, Ahmed Hafnaoui took the lead in the last length (3'43''36).

He is the

second Tunisian Olympic champion in swimming

after Oussama Mellouli (1,500m in 2008).

Neeraj Chopra - India - Athletics

Sensation at the javelin throw with the coronation of Neeraj Chopra, 23 years old.

The Indian had serious chances of medals, but the gold seemed promised to the German Johannes Vetter (96.29m this year).

Yet it was Neeraj Chopra who was crowned Olympic champion with a throw at 87.58m, while Vetter collapsed.

It is the first time that India has won a gold medal in athletics.

His last silver charms went back to Norman Pritchard at the 1900 Games. Neeraj Chopra is a new popular hero in India: on Twitter alone, he has gone from 143,000 to 2.5 million subscribers.

Marcell Jacobs - Italy - Athletics

Usain Bolt is no longer running, Yohan Blake is on a downward slope, Christian Coleman is suspended, Trayvon Bromell failed in the semifinals… In short, Jamaica and the United States no longer reign supreme over the men's sprint.

And surprise in Tokyo, it is an Italian who won gold in the 100m, the main event:

Marcell Jacobs in 9''80, a new European record


He is the first European since Briton Linford Christie to adorn himself with gold over 100m.

Jacobs then doubled in gold in the 4x100m, once again setting the European record.

The Italian Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Olympic champion in the 100m, on August 1, 2021 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games © Javier SORIANO AFP

Momiji Nishiya - Japan - Skateboard

The appearance of skateboarding on the Olympic Games program allowed Japan to discover a very young star.

On July 26, Momiji Nishiya, 13 years and 331 days old, became one of the youngest gold medalists in Olympic history.

The teenager who will celebrate her 14th birthday on August 30 won the park event.

She is the youngest Olympic champion in Japanese history.

The precocity record officially remains in the hands of the American diver Marjorie Gestring, 13 years and 267 days old when she was crowned in Berlin in 1936.

Yulimar Rojas - Venezuela - Athletics

26 years old, just a few days: that's how long it took to find an athlete capable of breaking the world record for the triple jump established in 1995 by the Ukrainian Inessa Kravets.

This athlete is Yulimar Rojas.

The lanky Venezuelan, already quadruple world champion and silver medalist in Rio, this time took gold with a last jump to 15.67m (against 15.50m for Kravets).

Mad with joy, the 25-year-old Olympic champion remains true to herself: she does not "set limits for herself" and still aspires to go beyond 16 meters from now on.

Venezuelan athlete Yulimar Rojas, jubilant after breaking the world record in the final of the Tokyo Olympics on August 1, 2021. REUTERS - HANNAH MCKAY

Tatjana Schoenmaker - South Africa - Swimming

If Chad le Clos did not manage to grab new medals in these Games, his compatriot Tatjana Schoenmaker brilliantly took on the task of wearing South Africa's colors as high as possible.

The swimmer first took the silver in the 100m breaststroke

before crushing everyone in the 200m breaststroke final

, her favorite distance.

The brewer took gold by breaking the eight-year-old world record in 2'18''95 (against 2'19''11).

South Africa had not had a gold swimmer since 1996 and Penelope Heyns.

Allyson Felix - United States - Athletics

The 18-year-old silver 200m sprinter in Athens in 2004 has grown up well.

For his last Olympic Games, Allyson Felix, now 35, has entered a little more into the legend of athletics.

With a bronze medal in the 400m and a gold medal in the 4x400m, the American became

the most successful woman of the Games in athletics

ahead of Slovenian (and ex-Jamaican) Merlene Ottey and her nine Olympic charms.

And she also passed the illustrious Carl Lewis and his ten medals (9 in gold and one in silver).

Allyson Felix (7 gold medals, 3 silver medals and 1 bronze medal) is only surpassed in the annals by the Finnish founder Paavo Nurmi (9 gold medals, 3 silver medals).

American sprinter Allyson Felix, bronze medalist at the Tokyo Olympics over 400m on August 6, 2021. REUTERS - PHIL NOBLE

Italo Ferreira and Carissa Moore - Brazil and United States - Surf

A new sport at these Games with karate and skateboarding, surfing saw the consecration of two of its stars: the Brazilian Italo Ferreira and the American Carissa Morre.

Recognized in their discipline and already rewarded many times, these two conquered gold in shortboard, despite a few sessions made disappointing for all those with unfavorable weather.

The first Olympic champions in history, they symbolize the successful union between the amateur world and the professional world in Ichinomya, the theater of events in Japan.

Steven Da Costa - France - Karate

He will go down as the first Olympic champion in the history of karate.

Already world champion, European champion and world number one in his category, Steven Da Costa honored his status on Thursday August 5 by beating Turkish Eray Samdan (5-0) in the final.

It is only natural that the French national Olympic and sports committee entrusted him with the status of standard bearer for the closing ceremony of these Games.

And if he “ 

enjoyed his moment

 ” with this medal “ 

which will never be erased

 ”, karateka still hopes that his sport will be on the program for the next Games again.

For now, this will not be the case in Paris in 2024. And for Da Costa, it's a shame.

This photo 😍

(Thank you Philippe Millereau)

- Steven Da Costa (@Steven_DaCosta) August 8, 2021

Emma McKeon - Australia - Swimming

The United States finished first in the swimming medal standings, but Australia has never performed so well with 20 medals including 9 gold.

And Emma McKeon is no stranger to this raid.

Like Dressel on the male side, the swimmer was imperial for women.

With gold over 50m (23''81, Olympic record), 100m (51''96, Olympic record), 4x100m (3'29''69, world record) and 4x100m medley (3'51 '' 60, Olympic record), Emma McKeon reigned in the pools.

She also became the most successful swimmer in a single edition of the Games, equaling American Katie Ledecky's record (four gold medals in 2016).

Anita Wlodarczyk - Poland - Athletics

Quadruple world champion, world record holder (82.98m in 2016), and now the first female athlete triple Olympic champion in individual: Anita Wlodarczyk is arguably the greatest hammer throw specialist in history.

At 35 (she celebrated her 36th birthday on August 8, the closing day of the Tokyo Olympics), the Polish woman returned from a left knee injury that kept her out of competition for two years.

With a throw of 78.48m, she again showed everyone what she is capable of.

Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk, three-time Olympic hammer throw champion, August 3, 2021. REUTERS - ALEKSANDRA SZMIGIEL

Simone Biles - United States - Gymnastics

Radiant in Rio with four gold medals and one bronze, splendid at the Worlds in Doha 2018 (four gold medals, one silver medal, one bronze medal) and Stuttgart 2019 (five gold medals), Simone Biles was expected as one of the stars of the Tokyo Games. The American has stood out in another way: by showing the world how much pressure can have

on mental health


Victim of "loss of figures", a phenomenon similar to a black hole which causes gymnasts to lose their bearings in space, Simone Biles preferred to withdraw from the all-around team competition in progress, then to ignore the finals in vault. , uneven bars and floor.

She eventually competed on beam for a bronze medal, in addition to silver in the all-around team competition.

His career, among others, leaves some avenues for reflection on the management of the mental health of high-level sportsmen and women.


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