The Slatest

U.S. Fails to Win a Medal on Day 1 of Summer Olympics for First Time in Almost 50 Years

Jourdan Elizabeth Delacruz reacts as she competes in the women's 49kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 24, 2021.
Jourdan Elizabeth Delacruz reacts as she competes in the women’s 49kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 24, 2021. VINCENZO PINTO/Getty Images

It was a disappointing start to the Tokyo Olympics for Team USA, which failed to win a medal on the first day of the Summer Games in almost 50 years. Olympic historian Bill Mallon pointed out it was the first time the United States did not receive a single medal on Day One of the Summer Olympics since the Munich Games in 1972.

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A total of 11 gold medals were given out Saturday and U.S. athletes suffered several upsets that meant they did not receive gold, silver nor bronze for any of the events. To be fair, none of the sports that gave out medals Saturday are ones in which the United States is particularly strong. But there were at least a few in which Team USA was expected to do better. The first gold medal was won by Yang Qian from China in the 10-meter air rifle competition. Mary Tucker, the American competing in the event, was expected to do well as she is ranked No. 2 in the world but ended up placing sixth. There were also high hopes for Eli Dershwitz, who is ranked No. 2 in the world in saber but lost to Kim Jung-hwan of South Korea, who ended up winning the bronze.

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Eli Dershwitz of Team United States reacts in his men’s sabre individual bout against Junghwan Kim of Korea of the fencing on day one of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on July 24, 2021 in Chiba, Japan.
Eli Dershwitz of Team United States reacts in his men’s sabre individual bout against Junghwan Kim of Korea of the fencing on day one of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on July 24, 2021 in Chiba, Japan. Elsa/Getty Images
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Team USA’s archers also suffered upsets Saturday. Brady Ellison, who is ranked No. 1, and Mackenzie Brown lost in the first round in the mixed team. “I’m still a little shocked,” Ellison, a three-time medalist, told USA Today. “I completely expected us to win a medal today. We got in that stadium, and I shot left. Mackenzie started getting it figured out there at the end. I shot left that entire match trying to aim off for the wind. That finals venue kicked my ass. I just didn’t see it and that cost us the match.”

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Brady Ellison of Team United States competes in the Mixed Team 1/8 Eliminations on day one of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field on July 24, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Brady Ellison of Team United States competes in the Mixed Team 1/8 Eliminations on day one of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field on July 24, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Justin Setterfield/Getty Images
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Cyclist Brandon McNulty also seemed destined to win a medal and seemed to be on his way for much of the men’s road race as he pulled away from the group. But he ended the race in sixth place while Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz came out on top and won his country’s second-ever gold medal. Jourdan Delacruz, a 23-year-old weightlifter from Texas, was not able to convert any of her three attempts in the clean and jerk and finished seventh.

There is, of course, a lot of Olympics still left and the failure to medal doesn’t mean it was all bad news for Team USA that saw victories in basketball, softball, and water polo.

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