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FEATURE That brief, shining moment when a country gets its first medal By Miriam Schmidt, dpa

Europe
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The Olympic spirit is perhaps best in evidence when, for a brief, shining and historical moment, an outsider from a small nation grabs the glory with their first-ever medal.

Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Tears of joy, being overcome by emotion, instant fame, telephone calls from their rulers: Olympic athletes from small countries go through a gamut of feelings and new experiences when they win the first-ever medal for a country.

Thousands of miles away back home, the moment becomes a national celebration. It happened often in Rio. Here are some:

KOSOVO: Majlind Kelmendi didn‘t even try to keep the tears in check as the judoka stood on the podium and received the first gold medal ever for Kosovo. "I simply wanted to cry, it was so special," the 25-year-old said about the moment when for the first time, Kosovo‘s national anthem was played at an Olympics.

VIETNAM: The first gold medal ever for Vietnam was an unforgettable experience, especially for Xuan Vinh Hoang. "Winning gold is a memory for a lifetime," said the winner of the 10 meter air pistol event. "This is something I‘ll never forget."

JORDAN: Taekwondo athlete Ahmad Abughaush won the first-ever medal for Jordan at an Olympics, and it was the gold medal to boot. The next thing he knew, he was getting a phone call from the Prince of Jordan. "The prince congratulated me and said people in Jordan were crying tears of joy for me," beaming 20-year-old Abughaush said. "It is an incredible feeling to win the first medal ever for one‘s country."

PUERTO RICO: Ranked only 34th in the world of women‘s tennis, Monica Puig flew into Rio as a rank outsider. A few days later, she found herself up on the podium with a gold medal - the first one ever for Puerto Rico - draped around her neck, having vanquished number-two ranked German Angelique Kerber. For the 22-year-old Puig, the emotions overcame her during the playing of the national anthem: "If I would have stopped crying, I probably would have started to sing along. But I couldn‘t stop. I was sobbing the entire time."

FIJI: Afterwards, even the opponents congratulated them: Fiji‘s men‘s rugby 7s team had won their tiny island-nation‘s first medal ever - and it was gold. To do it, Fiji had to defeat Britain, which they did soundly, 43-7. Halfway around the world back home, a new national holiday was declared in the rugby team‘s honour.

IRAN: It wasn‘t Iran‘s first ever Olympic medal - but it was the first one for a woman. Taekwondo athlete Kimia Alisadeh even received a tweet from President Hassan Ruhani after her bronze medal in the 57kg class. "My daughter Kimia, you have made all of Iran, especially the women, happy," he tweeted.

SINGAPORE: The Asian island-state had previously earned a pair each of silver and bronze medals before the Rio Games - but never a gold. That changed when 21-year-old swimmer Joseph Schooling won the 100m butterfly - beating his idol Michael Phelps. "I feel honoured and privileged to have a chance to swim against him," Singapore‘s first gold medal athlete said.

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