The Tokyo Olympics has officially come to an end after being labelled the most unprecedented and least likely-to-go-ahead Games ever, and Australia has finished off with a total of 46 medals.
Tokyo saw the most First Nations athletes ever to be selected for an Australian Olympic team, with 16 Indigenous athletes competing across 11 sports.
Basketball – Patty Mills and Leilani Mitchell
The Australian Men’s basketball team — the Boomers claimed the nation’s first-ever medal in the sport, winning the bronze for Australia over the weekend.
The side was captained by Muralag and Ynunga man Patty Mills, who not only made history by becoming the first Indigenous Australian flag bearer but finished the bronze match against Slovenia with 42 points and nine assists.
— Cathy Freeman (@CathyFreeman) August 7, 2021
Torres Strait Islander woman Leilani Mitchell was part of the Women’s basketball team, the Opals, who made it to the quarter finals but were unfortunately handed an early exit by Team USA 79-55.
Mitchell finished the game with a team high 14 points with 4-for-10 from the three-point line in 23 minutes.
Beach Volleyball – Taliqua Clancy
Wulli Wulli woman Taliqua Clancy is a name no one will forget after a deadly run at her second Olympic Games.
Clancy and partner Mariafe Artacho del Solar took out the silver after being defeated in the final by United States duo April Ross and Alix Klineman.
The silver medal of Taliqua Clancy. The Wulli Wulli and Goreng Goreng athlete became the 10th Indigenous Olympian to win a medal. Silver yesterday in Women’s Beach Volleyball with partner Mariafe Artacho del Solar. #tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/FAAImEaBk9
— Matt Roberts (@ACTcameramatt) August 7, 2021
It was the first time in 21 years Australia has stood on the podium for beach volleyball.
Boxing – Alex Winwood
Noongar man Alex Winwood made his Olympic debut competing in the flyweight event.
Winwood had an early exit after a split-decision loss to Zambia’s Patrick Chinyemba but made his mark during the opening ceremony showing off his shake-a-leg skills.
Winwood has also become the first Indigenous athlete to be elected on to the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) Athletes’ Commission.
His election comes after changes to the AOC Constitution which now guarantees that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice is on the Athletes’ Commission.
Hockey – Brooke Peris and Mariah Williams
The Hockeyroos were defeated in the quarter final against India, going down 1-0.
Wiradjuri woman Mariah Williams took to Instagram after the team’s heartbreaking loss to thank her fans for their support.
“Words cannot describe the heartbreak I feel right now,” she wrote.
“Not only have I been through some extremely hard times with lengthy injuries over the past five years, the Hockeyroos have also had some challenging times … but we’ve dug deep and I think on the right track to success not only on the field but also off the field.”
View this post on Instagram
Brooke Peris also took to Instagram, saying she is proud of her team regardless of the result.
View this post on Instagram
4x400m Relay – Angie Blackburn
Monero Ngarigo and Yuin woman Angie Blackburn was set to make her debut for the women’s relay team but unfortunately did get to run after her team finished seventh in their heat.
View this post on Instagram
Rugby – Maurice Longbottom and Dylan Pietsch
The Rugby Sevens faced Canada to see who would take out seventh and eighth place, and managed to pull through with a 26-7 to finish their Olympic journey at seventh place.
Blink and you’ll miss Maurice Longbottom!
— 7Olympics (@7olympics) July 26, 2021
Football (Soccer) – Kyah Simon Lydia Williams
In a heartbreaking bronze medal match against the USA, the Matildas suffered a 4-3 loss.
The Matildas’ campaign was a rollercoaster of emotions, with Anaiwan woman Kyah Simon making history as the latest Matilda to have 100 appearances for the team. The team also ruffled a few feathers at home by posing with the Aboriginal flag before their match against Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Emotional rollercoaster – Devastated and gutted, we wanted more, but proud of the history we made together. Thank you Australia for your support and belief in us 💚💛 We will be back! See you all in 2023 🇦🇺 @TheMatildas pic.twitter.com/QVPHopiVsV
— Kyah Simon (@KyahSimon) August 6, 2021
Queensland Senator Pauline Hanson was one of the most vocal about the Matildas’ decision, accusing the team of using the Olympics as a platform for “division”.
“The Matildas should stick to playing soccer and represent all Australians at the Tokyo Olympics instead of using the event as a platform for the politics of division,” said the Senator’s statement on the matter.
“Indigenous flags don’t represent all Australians. There’s only one flag which truly represents all of us.
“Taxpayers don’t shell out millions of dollars to send Olympic teams to represent two nations. We’re one nation, Australia, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike.”
Before the match the Matildas ( 2-1) posed for their pre-game picture with the Aboriginal flag proudly on display, before standing arm-in-arm on the halfway line as New Zealand’s players dropped to one knee to take a stand against #racism. #blacklivesmatter #closethegap pic.twitter.com/EipD6JdJPc
— #ClosetheGap 🖤 💛 ❤️ Campaign 💙 💚 (@closethegapOZ) July 21, 2021
Softball – Stacey Porter and Tarni Stepto
The women’s softball team didn’t place at the Olympics but instead saw an amazing debut from Kamilaroi woman Tarni Stepto.
Kamilaroi woman Stacey Porter also announced she will be stepping away from national team duties after 19 years with the side.
Tennis – Ash Barty
Ngarigo woman and World No.1 Ash Barty was unsuccessful in both her singles and doubles campaigns but in the mixed doubles was awarded the nation’s sixth tennis medal in Olympic history, bringing home the bronze with her partner John Peers.
Proud 💛💚🥉 pic.twitter.com/oh94ZtCB0X
— Ash Barty (@ashbarty) August 1, 2021
Trap Shooting – Thomas Grice
Thomas Grice was the first Indigenous Olympian to compete in the shooting event and finished up in sixth place for the mixed trap shooting team event with 145 points.
Weightlifting – Brandon Wakeling
It was consistency, consistency, consistency at the Tokyo International Forum for Australian Brandon Wakeling as he stepped up to the platform in the 73kg class 🇦🇺 👉 https://t.co/0ucKZqVM9f#TokyoTogether#Weightlifting@awfcomau pic.twitter.com/HqINXF5mHJ
— AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) July 28, 2021
Wonnarua man Brandon Wakeling made his debut in the men’s 73kg event in Tokyo and came in fourth with an overall weight of 291kg.
Australia finished sixth at the Tokyo Olympics with 46 medals: 17 gold, seven silver and 22 bronze.
By Teisha Cloos