When Liu Shiying of China stepped into the Olympic stadium on Friday night with the goal of becoming Asia’s first Olympic javelin champion, she gripped the spear in her right hand and hurled it out to 66.34m with her opening effort.
It was good enough for gold – and for history to be created – as none of rivals could match it in any of their six attempts.
The thrower who came closest was Maria Andrejczyk, the 2021 world No.1 from Poland, who threw 64.61m for silver.
Kelsey-Lee Barber, the Australian who beat Liu to the world title in Doha two years ago, took bronze on this occasion with 64.56m.
“It means a lot to me and my country,” said Liu. “2020 was a very difficult year for me because of injury and the pandemic.”
Andrejczyk admitted she had been troubled by injury since throwing 71.40m – the third best in history – earlier this summer.
The Pole said on her Tokyo performance: “It’s great, but honestly I craved for more. These five years were very difficult for me, because I had four operations. One was on my shoulder, one on the ankle, so it was a really tough time for me.
“I’m happy with that result. It’s my first medal on the senior level, but it’s not enough for me. I want more.”
The competition also saw some big-name casualties in qualification with world record-holder Barbora Spotakova and Rio Olympic champion Sara Kolak exiting.
Liu, 27, didn’t make the final at the last Olympics either but improved to eight place at the 2017 World Championships in London and then silver at the 2019 Worlds.