San Marino, a European Microstate, Just Became the Smallest Country Ever to Win an Olympic Medal
In 1960, San Marino—a microstate in the middle of Italy, not far from the Adriatic Sea—made its Olympic debut in Rome. Nine citizens competed: all men, mostly shooters and cyclists. None won a medal, and for the country’s next 23 Olympic appearances, no representative would.
Now, as Insider reports, San Marino has finally clinched its first medal, thanks to 33-year-old trap-shooter Alessandra Perilli. Her 29 points in the trap-shooting final earned her the bronze, behind Slovakia’s Zuzana Rehak Stefecekova in first place and the U.S.’s Kayle Browning in second. Perilli had actually finished in second place at the 2012 London Games, but so did two other shooters, who both outperformed her in the tie-breaking shoot-off.
With Perilli’s win, San Marino has become the smallest country by population to have won an Olympic medal. Its residents number about 33,860, just several thousand fewer than the previous record-holder, Liechtenstein, whose population is a little over 38,000. In terms of medal count, however, San Marino still has some catching up to do. Liechtenstein boasts 10, seven of which were won by members of the same family of extremely talented skiers.
Though San Marino encompasses a very tiny area of land—under 24 square miles—it’s not quite small enough to be the smallest country by land size with an Olympic medal. Bermuda, a few square miles smaller, has two medals to its name. The second one, won by triathlete Flora Duffy earlier this week, also made Bermuda the smallest country by land size with an Olympic gold medal.