First Gold at the Olympics in Brazil Goes to the US

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( — August 7, 2016) —The 31st Olympic Games opened on Friday at the Maracana stadium, with more than 70,000 spectators.

The first part of the opening ceremony was an artistic program, with nearly 300 professionals participating – actors, musicians and dancers, plus about 5,000 volunteers. It showcased more than 12,000 costumes.

The ceremony was different from previous ones, which were mainly dominated by technological achievements of the modern world. Brazil opted for a more analog program, largely devoid of showy effects, but done with a lot of taste.

In the second part of the ceremony, delegations from 205 countries made their entrance, approximately 11,000 athletes, each of who planted the seed of a Brazilian tree.

The Olympic flame was brought to Maracana by Gustavo Kuerten, a retired former World No. 1 tennis player from Brazil.

The Olympic cauldron lights were lit by Vanderlei de Lima, a former long-distance runner. The parade traditionally started with the Greek delegation, the cradle of the Olympic Games, followed by (in alphabetical order, in French) teams from Afghanistan, South Africa, Albania, Germany, Andorra and so on.

Besides the host country, the Olympic Refugee Team and The Independent Olympic Athletes received the biggest applause. A total of 10 athletes from four different countries make up the teams. The countries they represent include South Sudan, Syria, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They will be competing in a variety of events including track and field races, the marathon, judo, and swimming. For both the Refugee Team and the Independent Olympians, rather than wave the flags of their own country, they waved the flag of the Olympics.

The youngest member of the team is Yusra Mardini, a Syrian swimmer. Last August she escaped with her own sister from Syria through the Mediterranean to Germany. The swimmer showed remarkable strength during the migration, helping other refugees in a sinking boat. She is the Olympic Syrian refugee who swam for three hours in the sea, pushing a sinking boat carrying 20 people to safety.

Another swimmer – Rami Anis, 20 years old, arrived at the Olympics fleeing conscription from his native Syria. Each member of this team has their own story of how they survived, reports The Independent.

Judoka Popole Misenga, from the Congo, cried at the press conference when he talked about his family. He has two brothers, and he told them if they’re now watching TV that he is well and he wants to buy them airplanes tickets to come to Rio and live together again.

He also said that he will not say that there is no flag for him – he will be competing under the flag of many countries in the name of all refugees.

On Saturday, the first day of the Olympic games in Rio, American teenager, Virginia Thrasher, won the first gold medal of the Rio Olympics for the US in the women’s 10m air rifle event. The 19 year-old has become the first freshman to win both individual NCAA rifle titles and helped West Virginia to win the team title.

Thrasher edged out China’s Du Li with an Olympic record score of 208. The result was quite a surprise. Thrasher is ranked 23rd in the world and Du had been dominant in the qualifying round.

The Olympic Games in Rio will last two weeks. The 31st games are being held not only in the shadow of the Zika virus, which is very active in Brazil, but also terrorist threats. A large number of police and military provide security to athletes and the udience at all times.