London Olympics: Quiet highlights

Story highlights

  • Guatemala won its first Olympic medal in history
  • Italy overtook France to win most fencing medals overall in Olympic history
  • Venezuela won first fencing gold -- and first gold medal since 1968
  • Hong Kong won bronze in women's keirin-- team's third medal ever

Amid the sensational wins of the first half of the London Olympics, here are some less-celebrated but no less impressive victories that you might have missed.

1. GUATEMALA won its very first Olympic medal in history, when Erick Barrando won silver in the 20 km race walk. The country first participated in the Games in 1952.

2. ITALY overtook France to claim the highest number of fencing medals overall in Olympics history. Italy's fencing medal count now stands at 121 to the 115 held by France, which failed to take home a fencing medal for the first time since 1960. With her six gold medals, Italy's Valentina Vezzali also made Olympic history by becoming the most decorated female fencer.

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3. Other fencers also made Olympic history for their national teams, including Reuben Limbardo Gascon, who won VENEZUELA's first fencing gold—and the country's first gold medal since 1968. Silver medalist Bartosz Piasecki won NORWAY's first fencing medal.

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4. SOUTH KOREA's fencer, Shin A Lam, picked herself up to win silver in the team event, after she sat on the piste in tears earlier in the week after losing the women's epee semifinal over a disputed final hit.

5. NORTH KOREA has won four medals in weightlifting—three of them gold. Om Yun Choi and Kim Un Guk triumphed in the men's 56 kg and 62 kg events, the first time the nation has won an Olympic medal for men's weightlifting since 1992. Rim Jong Sim followed a few days later with a victory in the women's 69 kg event.

6. HONG KONG cyclist Wai Sze Lee won a bronze in women's keirin, the first medal awarded in the London Olympics to Hong Kong. It was also the third Olympics medal ever won by the special administrative region of China, which has independently competed in the summer Olympics since 1952.

7. BELARUS won its first gold medal in tennis, triumphing in the mixed doubles event, which returned to the Olympics after an 88-year absence.

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8. Women's boxing made its debut in the London Olympics, bringing 36 female boxers from 23 nations across three weight divisions to the ring. In the 75 kg division, NIGERIA's Edith Ogoke defeated 2012 world championship silver medalist Elena Vystropova, making her one to watch in Monday's quarterfinals.