The women that wowed: A look at some of the best female performances at Tokyo 2020 (part 2)

Touted as the most gender-balanced Games in history, women produced some of the most memorable performances at the quadrennial showpiece, etching their names into the history books. In the second part of this two-part series, Tokyo 2020 takes a look at some of the stars and their amazing Olympic feats.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 (in 2021) broke new ground as the most gender-equal edition to date, with women representing nearly 49 percent of all participants at these Olympic Games. 

From earning sporting immortality to achieving record-breaking feats, women wowed us from the legends bringing the curtain down on illustrious careers to future stars announcing themselves to the world.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Adding to her growing legend

Katie Ledecky bowed out of Tokyo 2020 with four medals behind her name, including two golds to extend her total tally to 10 over three Olympic Games.

Demonstrating her incredible range, Ledecky won the 1500m and 800m freestyle gold medals while also bagging the 400m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay silvers.

The 24-year-old Ledecky added to her growing legend, winning her third consecutive Olympic 800m title, which she first won as a 15-year-old in London 2012. She also became the first female Olympic champion in the 1500m, making its debut in Tokyo 2020.

With her six gold medals, she overtook Hungary's Krisztina Egerszegi's women's record for the most titles in swimming at the Olympics.

"It feels great. I'm so happy to be bringing home two golds and two silvers to the States (USA)," Ledecky said.

"I had to fight for every metre of that race: Ariarne [Titmus] had a tremendous time and a great swim, and I knew she was going to be there the whole way. I'm really proud and happy."

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Sprint queen

Elaine Thompson-Herah raced to sprinting immortality at these Olympic Games, becoming only the second woman since Florence Griffith Joyner to win the complete the sprint treble. 

The Jamaican superstar became the first woman to win the 100-200m double gold at consecutive Olympics before adding the 4x100m relay gold medal for good measure. The 29-year-old extended her medal tally over two Olympic Games to six.

To highlight her class, Thompson-Herah launched herself into second place on the world all-time list in the 100m and the 200m. She is by default the fastest woman alive in both events.

She set a new Olympic record in the 100m with her winning time of 10.61 seconds, shaving 0.01s off Griffith Joyner's mark from Seoul 1988.

Thompson-Herah produced a dominant run in the half-lap sprint final, clocking 21.53 to complete the double-double. 

"I was just excited for the team to come out here and put on a show. The feeling is surreal to capture three golds, and we got a national record," said Thompson-Herah. "We are grateful."

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The fantastic Jessica Fox

Jessica Fox practically won every major title on offer in her sport from junior championships, Youth Olympics to world championships – except Olympic gold.

The Australian canoe slalom ace won K1 silver in London 2012, bronze in Rio 2016 and bronze again in Tokyo 2020. 

The 27-year-old Fox finally got her just rewards in the canoe slalom (C1), becoming the first women's Olympic champion in the event. 

Fox, a four-time world champion in the C1, lobbied for the event's inclusion in the Olympic programme. The single-bladed C1 event had been the preserve of the men's competition while the women only competed in the kayak slalom at the Olympics. 

"I was just so thrilled that we made our debut, and we showed the world what we could do," Fox told

"Obviously, having been part of that campaign to get it into the Olympics, it was really special to then, in a way, be rewarded with the gold medal. I've put in a lot of hard work along the way and been really well supported, but it is special to be able to share it with everyone who helped us get to that point."

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Written in the stars

It was written in the stars that Sydney McLaughlin would one day step onto the podium at the Olympic Games. It was just a question of when. 

The U.S. track phenom turned 17 during her Olympic debut in Rio 2016, where she missed out on reaching the final. 

Fast forward to Tokyo 2020, McLaughlin was the resounding favourite for the 400m hurdles title thanks to her world-record breaking run at the United States Olympic trials in the build-up to the Games. 

She delivered on her immense promise winning the Olympic gold medal in a world record time of 51.46 seconds, chopping 0.44 off her previous mark. Compatriot and Rio 2016 champion Dalilah Muhammad took silver, going under 52 seconds in a time that also broke the former world record (51.58). 

"I saw (silver medallist) Dalilah ahead of me with one to go. I just thought, 'Run your race'.

"The race doesn't really start till hurdle seven. I just wanted to go out there and give it everything I had.

"It's just about trusting your training, trusting your coach, and that will get you all the way around the track."

The 21-year-old McLaughlin bowed out of the Games as a double Olympic gold medallist after winning the 4x400m relay title with a quartet made up of track legend Allyson Felix, Muhammad and Tokyo 800m gold medallist Athing Mu.

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Third time's a charm

The Canadian football team finally moved out of their neighbours to the south's shadow, becoming only the fourth nation to win the Olympic title.

Led by veteran captain Christine Sinclair, Canada has made serious moves in the Olympic ranks, winning back-to-back bronze medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

The Canadians beat Sweden in a dramatic penalty shootout after the final ended in a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation time.

Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe was the hero on the day, thanks to crucial saves during the shootouts to deny Sweden an upgrade of the silver they won in Rio 2016.

"It even looks prettier. I honestly can't believe what just happened," said Sinclair.

"We had a goal coming here to change the colour of the medal, and we landed on the top of the podium. It's such an honour to be a part of this special group."