Olympic Fails – When the World’s Best Look Human Too
It’s the pinnacle of sport. The ultimate. Athletes devote their lives to perform on the biggest stage, alongside the world’s best, in front of the biggest worldwide audience.
The Olympic Games produce moments of brilliance and images never to be forgotten. But occasionally someone’s expected moment of Olympic glory can become an Olympic fail.
All those days, weeks, and years of devotion can unravel in an instant. Here are our five biggest Olympic fails in the history of the modern games.
Greg Louganis – The Headbanger
In the Seoul 1988 games, US diver Greg Louganis became the first man ever to win the 3-meter springboard competition in consecutive Olympic Games.
He was already well on his way to glory for the second time when disaster struck. During one of his dives, his notoriously perfect technique for once let him down. Instead of soaring majestically through the air and into the water with barely a ripple, he cracked his head on the diving board.
Rather than earning a set of perfect 10s, it gave him a concussion and a cut that needed five stitches. He claimed his pride was more dented than his head, but we’re not so sure!
Olympic fails rating – Silver
Sa Jae-hyouk Elbows Himself Out of the Competition
The London 2012 Olympics were widely regarded as one of the best, but they were still visited by some stomach-churning moments. Take for example, when it all went a little wrong for South Korean weightlifter Sa Jae-hyouk as he attempted to lift 162kg (357 pounds) in the clean and jerk.
Instead of lifting himself one step closer to the gold medal to the cheers and applause of the crowd, the ExCeL Arena echoed with the sounds of screams. Sa Jae-hyou miscalculated his hoist and dislocated his elbow. WARNING: Not one for the squeamish!
Olympic fails rating – Bronze
Abrahamian Gets, Then Loses the Bronze Medal
At Beijing 2008, Sweden’s Greco-Roman wrestling star and winner of the silver medal four years earlier, Ara Abrahamian put on a very different performance. The Swede thought he had beaten the eventual gold medallist Andrea Minguzzi in their semi-final match.
The bout was instead controversially awarded to the Italian. At the medal ceremony, a still-disgruntled Abrahamian reluctantly climbed the podium to receive his medal, only to remove it and leave it in the centre of the competition mat.
He then stomped off with a raised clenched right fist. The IOC was unimpressed, stripped the Swede of his medal and kicked him out of the games!
Olympic fails rating – Gold
Lochte Up and Robbed?
American swimmer Ryan Lochte appeared to have it all, including film star looks and 12 Olympic medals already in his trophy cabinet. His whole world turned upside down during the 2016 Rio Olympics, when he claimed he was robbed at gunpoint.
Subsequent investigations confirmed that Lochte made the whole thing up, and he was duly banned from the sport for ten months. Worse was to follow when he was then banned for a further 14 months in 2018 for using an “intravenous infusion”. A spell in rehab followed and Lochte now claims to be a reformed character.
Olympic fails rating – Double gold
The Harding/Kerrigan affair
In the build-up to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, while preparing for her National Championships, US figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked as she finished a training session.
It later emerged it was the ex-husband of rival Tonya Harding and her bodyguard who had hired a hitman to break Kerrigan’s leg. They intended to ruin her Olympic dream and in doing so, boost Harding’s chances of a medal.
Harding admitted she knew the identity of the men behind the attack, but not until after it happened. Do we believe her? Either way, she received three years’ probation, was fined $100,000, and given 500 hours of community service.
Olympic fails rating – Triple gold
- Greg Louganis
- Nancy Kerrigan
- Sa Jae-hyouk