Contenders from Fiji, Bosnia, Rwanda and Honduras could stand where no compatriot has stood before — on an Olympic podium.
"I have dreamed of this for a long time and finally it is coming,” Kelmendi told CNN last year about wearing “KOS” at Rio 2016.
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As the strongest medal contender for Kosvo, Kelmendi is among a rare group of athletes at Rio 2016: she, along with 10 other individuals and teams, have a good chance of winning the first Olympic medal in the history of their respective countries.
Will it be the men or the women who claim the distinction of winning Fiji’s first Olympic medal?
Both are contenders as rugby returns to the Games for the first time in 92 years in the form of fast-paced and entertaining rugby sevens. It could be the Fijiana who edge into the history books because the women’s final is 8 August while the men’s title match comes three days later. They will open their campiagn against the USA on 6 August and follow that with meetings against Australia and Colombia.
The men’s side have electrified with their swift invention and crafty style developed under the guidance of Brit skipper, Ben Ryan, a "freckled, bespectacled, red-headed Englishman." The two-time Sevens World Cup champions and reigning World Rugby Sevens Series champs — most recently for the 16th time on the power of scoring the most points (1,704), the most tries (265), and the most conversions (188) — Fiji is a fiercely hot world-beater tipped to win gold at Rio 2016.
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The Fijian men open their Olympic tournament against hosts Brazil and Argentina on 9 August.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina made its Olympic debut at Barcelona 1992 when middle-distance runner Abel Tuka and judoka Larisa Ceric were both two years old. The country previously competed as part of Yugoslavia and secured its best result at Sydney 2000 when Nedzad Fazlija finished sixth in the men's 10m air rifle.
An 800m specialist, Tuka became the first from his country to reach the podium in athletics at the 2015 world championships in Beijing where he finished third.
The 25-year-old mechanical engineering student embraced his pioneering status and said, at the time, “This medal is written in the history of my country forever. My first world championships and already a medal.”
He comes off a win this season at an IAAF Diamond League meet in Eugene, USA, and is ranked eighth overall. To claim his country’s first Olympic medal, Tuka must outpace a field packed with four Kenyans who have seven of the fastest nine times recorded so far this year. The men's 800m final is 15 August at the Olympic Stadium.
The second medal hope for Bosina and Herzegovina is judo black belt Larisa Ceric, who will compete in women's 78kg division. She recently finished ninth in back-to-back years at the European championships and was named her country's best athlete – she has earned the honour six times since 2009.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Veteran sprinter Kim Collins will compete at his sixth Olympic Games when he steps on to the track at the Olympic Stadium in Rio 2016. The 40-year-old 100m specialist from the Caribbean country of Saint Kitts and Nevis made his Olympic debut at Atlanta 1996 and has gone on to become his country's most celebrated athlete. He reached the quarter-final on that debut Games and continues to put down the fastest times for his country, which dedicated 25 August as Kim Collins Day and renamed the Silver Jubillee Stadium after him.
Collins, in April, became the oldest man in the history of the indoor world championships and a month later became the first athlete over 40 to break the 10-second barrier when he ran a personal-best 9.93-second time in Germany. The blistering time also broke his country's national record.
"Age is just a number," he declared, vowing he has no plans to retire.
The father of four has twice reached the Olympic finals, coming seventh at Sydney 2000 and improving on that with a sixth-place finish at Athens 2004. A three-time Saint Kitts and Nevis flag-bearer, Collins' recent performance puts him squarely among the elite racers he could face at Rio 206, including Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin.
Will this be his moment to reach the podium? It may not be his last attempt.
The men's 100m final is 14 August at Olympic Stadium.
Alessandra Perilli narrowly missed claiming the first Olympic medal for San Marino when the trap shooter finished just off the podium at London 2012. Following a three-way play-off, Perilli finished fourth at her debut Games. It was the highest Olympic achievement for the small Italian-speaking country.
Perilli, 28, was San Marino’s flag bearer at London 2012 and will be joined at Rio 2016 by her sister, trap shooter Arianna Perilli, who this time has the honour of carrying the Sammarinese flag after she competed internationally for Italy until 2013.
The women’s trap Olympic champion and world record holder, Italy’s Jessica Rossi, will return to Rio 2016 and present tough competition for the Perilli sisters but the podium is still within reach.
The bronze and gold women's trap shooting matches are 7 August at the Olympic Shooting Centre.
The teenager holds a U20 national record in the women’s 5000m and a senior national record in the 10,000m, the same long-distance event she will race at Rio 2016. She recorded a new personal best in June at the Africa Athletics Senior Championships in Durban, South Africa. Nyirarukundo clocked in at 31 minutes and 45.82 seconds over the distance equivalent to 10 kilometres and she will be pushing to stay in the company of fleet-footed harriers such as London 2012 champion Tirunesh Dibaba, who is one of nine Ethiopians to record a top 10 performance this year.
Nyirarukundo follows in the footsteps of prolific runners who have come close to claiming a medal for the small African nation, which made its Olympic debut at Los Angeles 1984. Mathias Ntawulikura, a two-time flag bearer, competed at five Games between Seoul 1988 and Athens 2004 and recording Rwanda’s all-time best finish, an eighth in the 10,000m at Atlanta 1996. Also in the men’s 10,000m, Robert Kajuga finished 14th at London 2012.
The women’s 10,000m is 12 August at Olympic Stadium.
Hussein Iashaish will turn 21 on 6 August, the first day of the men’s heavyweight preliminaries in the 91kg boxing competition. The Jordanian, who was praised for ushering in a “new era” of boxing in his country, secured his spot at Rio 2016 with a bronze medal in the super heavyweight division of the 2016 Asia and Oceania qualifying tournament in China. Before that, he finished third at the 2015 Asia Championships in Thailand and fifth overall at the 2015 World Championships in Qatar.
Jordan debuted at the Olympics with a four-man rifle and trap shooting team at Moscow 1980 and the first female competitor represented the country in the 3000m at Los Angeles 1984.
Ibrahim Kamal came close to claiming Jordan’s first Olympic medal — a bronze in taekwondo at London 2012 — but he fell in the third-place bout.
The Honduras men's football team finished second in the regional qualifying tournament, losing to Mexico after already securing their place by eliminating the USA with a 2-0 win. Alberth Elis, the 20-year-old star of Tegucigalpa club Deportivo Olimpia, netted both goals.
The side led by Jorge Luis Pinto finished seventh at London 2012 and were one of three teams to finish even with three points in group F at the 2015 U20 World Cup. Their inferior goal difference kept them from reaching the knockout stages.
At Rio 2016, Honduras are grouped with Algeria, Portugal and Argentina.
They kick off the tournament 4 August at Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.