5 nations with one Olympic medal

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Becoming an Olympian is a great source of pride for an athlete. Once an athlete is an Olympian, the next goal is to win the Olympic medal.

While the United States, the Soviet Union and Germany lead the all-time medal charts, winning thousands of medals, 24 nations have only been able to fulfill this dream once.

Here we look at five nations that have won only one Olympic medal and the story of the athletes who made their country proud in the greatest sporting spectacle.

Kosovo

Kosovo or the Republic of Kosovo is a country in Southeastern Europe. The Kosovo Olympic Committee, the National Olympic Committee (NOC), was formed in 1992 and officially created in 2003. But the NOC did not receive official recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) until 2014. The country no ‘was represented for the first time at the Summer Games only at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. The eight athletes who represented Kosovo in five sports were: alpine skiing, athletics, road cycling, judo, shooting and swimming.

Kosovo won its first Olympic medal when judoka Majlinda Kelmendi won gold at the Rio Games. For the London 2012 Olympics, Majlinda Kelmendi was forced to represent Albania, and a request for Kosovo athletes to compete in London as independent Olympic athletes was rejected. But young Majlinda Kelmendi left the Games early after losing in the round of 16. After the London matches, Majlinda Kelmendi received offers from many countries, but she and her coach turned down the offers and the two decided to prepare for the next matches.

In Rio, Majlinda Kelmendi carried the Kosovo flag and led the small team during the Olympic ceremony. A confident and experienced Majlinda Kelmendi this time qualified for the women’s 52kg final. In the final, she faced the 2015 world champion Odette Giuffrida. Her experience of fighting Odette Giuffrida was revealed dangerously as she emerged victorious. She was crowned champion in her 52 kg weight class at all levels of competition. Majlinda Kelmendi’s gold inspired a whole young generation in Kosovo to learn judo.

Jordan

Ahmad Abughush celebrates Jordan
Ahmad Abughush celebrates Jordan’s first Olympic gold medal

Jordan’s National Olympic Committee was formed in 1957 and it gained official recognition from the IOC in 1963. However, it took 17 more years for the country to compete in its first Summer Olympics. But since the Moscow Olympics in 1980, Jordan has participated in every edition of the mega event.

The country saw limited participation, as only 61 athletes represented the country in 12 sports: archery, track and field, boxing, horse riding, fencing, judo, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon and wrestling.

Jordan’s first Olympic glory moment came when 20-year-old student Ahmad Abughaush won gold in taekwondo at the Rio Games. Ahmad Abughaush defeated Alexey Denisenko of Russia in the men’s 68kg category to clinch Jordon’s first-ever Olympic medal.

After Ahmad Abughaush’s gold medal, the sport began to flourish in Jordan. Children in many refugee camps across the country are now learning sports. Taekwondo helps these children reap the rewards in the form of fitness, sports, self-defense, self-confidence and self-esteem.

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Cyprus

Cyprusâ ????  Pavlos Kontides during men
Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus in the men’s laser event at the London Olympics

The National Olympic Committee of Cyprus was established in 1974 and was recognized by the IOC in 1979. The country made its debut at the Summer Olympics in 1980. The country has participated in every Olympic Games since then. The country has seen 121 athletes participate in 14 sports: alpine skiing, archery, artistic gymnastics, track and field, mountain biking, road cycling, judo, rhythmic gymnastics, sailing, shooting, swimming, tennis, weight lifting and wrestling.

Cyprus’s only Olympic medal was won in London.

Pavlos Kontides made Cyprus proud by winning a silver medal in the men’s single-seater dinghy. Pavlos Kontides is one of the best sailors in the world. At the previous Olympic Games, Pavlos Kontides had finished 13th in his event. But finishing 13th only motivated Pavlos Kontides to win a medal next time around. Pavlos Kontides’ medal changed everything in Cyprus. It gave people hope. The motivated success of Pavlos Kontides sparked a change and put the country on the sailing map. Pavlos Kontides is a superstar in Cyprus.

Outside of the Olympics, Pavlos Kontides won the World Championships in 2017 and 2018. He was also named Cypriot Athlete of the Year for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Guatemala

Erick Barrondo left celebrates his silver medal at the London Olympics.
Erick Barrondo left celebrates his silver medal at the London Olympics.

Guatemala has participated in the Olympic Games since 1932 but its National Olympic Committee was born in 1946 and obtained official recognition a year later. Over the years, Guatemala has seen 240 athletes participate in the following events: Alpine Skiing, Artistic Gymnastics, Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Canoe Slalom, Cross Country Skiing, Road Cycling, Track Cycling, Equestrian, Fencing, Football, Judo, Pentathlon Modern, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, taekwondo, weightlifting and wrestling.

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At the London 2012 Olympics, Guatemala won its first and only medal to date. Erick Barrondo won silver in the men’s 20km walk to make his country proud. Before the Olympics, Erick Barrondo was in great shape. He broke the national 20km record in 2010. A year later, he finished among the top 10 in the world at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, Republic of Korea. He went on to win gold at the 2011 Pan American Games.

“I’ll feel like the happiest man in the world if tomorrow a Guatemalan leaves a gun or a knife and goes to the stadium to put on tennis shoes and start playing sports,” Erick Barrondo told a newspaper in 2016.

To go

Benjamin Boukpeti in action
Benjamin Boukpeti in action

Togo, a country in West Africa, obtained its independence in 1960. Its National Olympic Committee was constituted in 1963 and the IOC granted it official recognition in 1965. Togo made its first appearance at the Olympic Games in 1972. The country missed the 1976 and 1980 Olympics because of boycotts, but the country has always been present at all the Summer Games since then. Only 42 Togolese athletes took part in the Olympic Games in the following events: alpine skiing, track and field, boxing, canoe slamon, cross-country skiing, road cycling, judo, rowing, swimming, table tennis and tennis.

The country’s only medal at the Summer Olympics came at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when Benjamin Boukpeti placed third in the K-1 canoe-kayak slalom event to win a bronze medal. Benjamin Boukpeti was born in France. He fell in love with the sport from an early age.

In 2003, Benjamin Boukpeti decided to represent Togo at the Olympic Games because his father was Togolese. Benjamin Boukpeti qualified to represent Togo for the first time at the Athens Games. There he finished 18th in the K-1 final. But four years later, Benjamin Boukpeti was not only Togo’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games but also the country’s only medalist. Benjamin Boukpeti won the bronze medal in K-1.

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