Day 1 roundup: 12-year-old Olympian, USWNT win, zero medals for Team USA

·4 min read

There's a whole lot going on every day at the Tokyo Olympics. Here, we'll keep you up-to-date with everything you need to know.

Olympic story of the day

Hend Zaza learned table tennis as a child in war-torn Syria, picking up the game as a 5-year-old seeking a distraction from the terror of daily life. That was seven years ago. 

Zaza, age 12, is the youngest Olympian at this year's Games. She fell in her opening match to a player more than three times her age. But that's just one part of her remarkable story, one which our Dan Wetzel told in a Saturday column

"Right now," Wetzel writes, "she hopes just the vision of her here will remind the world that Syria isn’t just about military offensives and bombed out cities — there are real people there, real families, real dreams, real little girls capable of amazing things."

Read the full story

Team USA, blanked on Day 1

For the first time in 49 years, the United States failed to medal on Day 1 of the Summer Olympics. Yep, Team USA went 0-for-11 in seven different sports. This isn't terribly unusual; America didn't medal on the first day of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, either. Plus, Day 1's events, which included shooting, cycling, fencing, judo and taekwondo, generally aren't traditional American strongholds. 

NBA vs. 3x3

The 3x3 (pronounced "three-ex-three") basketball tournament is underway, but only the U.S. women qualified for the Olympics. Since we're Americans and assume we're the best at everything, it's a reasonable question to ask: why don't we just throw some NBA players out there and mop up on the world? Easy, right? 

Not so fast, says our Henry Bushnell; your average NBA star may not have tuned up the skills required for the constant, zero-breaks, nowhere-to-hide game of 3x3. “It's more grabbing, and holding than 5-on-5," says Michael Hicks, a Polish American competing for Poland. "That's why I like it. There's no crybabies out here, no flopping.” 

If you're wondering which NBA stars might be the best fit for a 3x3 team ... we've got you covered.

USWNT rights the ship

Nothing like a good blowout win to get you feeling better about yourself. Days after a stunning opening loss to Sweden, the U.S. women's soccer team took out its frustrations on poor New Zealand, winning 6-1. The match was surprisingly lethargic for much of its running time, with the U.S. holding a 2-0 lead that never seemed particularly strong. But a late flurry of scoring helped boost both Team USA's mood and its goal differential. The aggressive U.S. offense — four goals were called back for offsides — overwhelmed New Zealand, which was gracious enough to contribute two own-goals to America's total. The USWNT now faces Australia in the last match of the group stage. 

End of an era in gymnastics

It's only Day 1, but the Olympics have already seen a legend take his last turn. Kohei Uchimura, one of the world's finest gymnasts and a beloved Japanese icon, fell during qualifying on the high bar, his only event of this Games. It was a moment when the empty arena was sadly appropriate. 

"I couldn't perform what I have practiced," Uchimura, who won seven medals over three prior Olympics, said afterward. "That's how, I simply think. In the last three Olympic Games I could perform what I practiced. But I couldn't do that at these Olympics."

Team USA gymnastics over the years slideshow embed
Team USA gymnastics over the years slideshow embed

Olympic-level bureaucratic snafus

Imagine you've made the Olympics. You're packing for Tokyo, ready to go ... only to be told you're not competing because someone in your home country failed to file the proper paperwork. That's exactly what happened to tennis players Oksana Kalashinikova and Ekaterine Gorgodze of Georgia. Their last-ditch appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport was denied, and they took to social media, brokenhearted. 

"It is really sad to acknowledge that you have made a cut to #Tokyo2020 but not going because entry wasn’t send," Kalashnikova tweeted. "That was my dream to compete in that event. I just want to cry right now." This marks the second bureaucratic screw-up of these Games, following an unfortunate incident earlier in which Poland had to send home six of its swimmers; the country showed up with 23 swimmers despite only qualifying 17. 

Photo of the day

Novak Djokovic, who won easily in his Tokyo debut, gets loose with the Belgian gymnastics team. Please, for the sake of your groin, do not try this at home.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com.

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