30 Unique Olympic Moments That Define The Games

Darren - August 15, 2019

30 Unique Olympic Moments That Define The Games

Darren - August 15, 2019

The Olympics is one of the greatest events in the world. Both the Winter and Summer Games offer amateur athletes to prove themselves as the greatest at their sport. With the Tokyo Games fast approaching, there’s no better time to take a look at some of the craziest moments ever to happen in this wonderful event.

We’ve seen controversial wins, moments of underdog glory, corruption, terrible organization, and loads more madness from the Olympics throughout the years. We’re going to take the very best from both the Winter and Summer Games to give you the 30 craziest moments in the competition’s history.

Check them out below.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

30. Olympic Rugby Attack

You’d think they’d be used to losing, but it turns out the French aren’t very good about it. In 1924, during the last Olympics rugby games played before their return in 2016, the US battered the French 17-3. The French crowd decided to attack the US reserve team and the referee needed police protection.

During the medal ceremony, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ was booed by the crowd. After the Games, the Olympics Committee elected a new president who decided that he didn’t like rugby or any other team sport for that matter. So even though the game was massively popular, it was cut until its return in 2016.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

29. Abebe Bikila’s Barefoot Win

The marathon is one of the classic Olympic events from antiquity and it has had some crazy moments in Olympic history. The first one on this list is Abebe Bikila’s astonishing win in 1960. When you think of athletes nowadays, they are wearing sportswear and using equipment designed in laboratories. Bikila brought it back to basics.

The son of an Ethiopian shepherd, he wasn’t taken seriously by anyone. He received even more ridicule for competing in the marathon barefoot. But he went on to smash the world record and danced on the finish line, even as his competitors were struggling to finish. He’d go on to win gold in Tokyo, before sadly getting paralyzed five years later.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

28. Lost Olympic Stadium Key

One of the most important things about the Olympics is that it is actually well-organised. Years go into the preparation of the global event, with countries pouring billions into the development of new stadiums and infrastructure. They do this because they want the prestige and benefits of hosting the international event.

So you’d think that they wouldn’t lose the keys to their main stadium right? Well, that’s exactly what happened in Rio De Janeiro when two days before a women’s football match organizers lost the key to one of the stadium gates. After desperately searching, they finally broke out the bolt-cutters and got the games back on track.

27. Michael Conlan boxing robbery

The Irish boxing team did very well in London 2012, but things didn’t go so well in Rio 2016. First of all their boxing queen – and current unified lightweight champion – Katie Tayor crashed out in a shock defeat. Michael Conlan was one of their own other main medal hopes, having won gold at the World Championships in qualification.

After a shock and highly-controversial loss to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, Conlan went on an enraged rant at the AIBA, cursing them and calling them corrupt. Nikitin’s battered face at the end of the fight said it all. Now Conlan is unbeaten as a professional. He’s the real winner at the end of the day.

Mandatory Credit: Youtube.

26. Shun Fujimoto broken knee

The 1976 Olympics saw a battle between Japan and the Soviet Union for gymnastics Olympic gold. The Soviets had finished second for the past four events and were determined to finally bring home the top medal. Their hopes were crushed though by the astonishing bravery of Shun Fujimoto, who actually competed with a broken kneecap.

He suffered the injury during early exercised but acted like nothing had happened and didn’t seek medical attention. Fujimoto walked off the stage pretending everything was ok. He continued to compete and set multiple world records, before finally letting the pain show and limping off. Japan went on to win the gold by a mere 0.4 points, sealing a five-game gold run.

25. Armenia Arm Break

Andranik Karapetyan might not be a household name, but in the weightlifting world, the Armenian is a big deal. He won bronze at the World Championships in 2017 and gold in the European Championships the same year. So he was seen as a legitimate medal hope for the small European nation at the Games in Rio De Janerio.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for Karapetyan the way he wanted. He was competing in the -77kg competition and attempted to lift 195lbs in the clean and cut competition. The worst thing happened: he dislocated his elbow, bending it the wrong way, leaving him screaming in pain and ending his Games.

24. Bob Beamon’s Long Jump

Bob Beamon’s 1968 gold medal win still does not make sense. He was competing in the long jump in Mexico City. He almost didn’t qualify for the event after committing fouls during his jumps and he didn’t even have a coach in the build-up. So needless to say, when it came to the event he went so far, he flew out of the long jump pit.

Some believe that this insane feat happened because Mexico is at a high altitude. He jumped 9 metres (29ft) breaking the previous record by nearly 0.6 metres (2 ft). Beamon had a tailwind of 7 km/h (4mph), but it has to be admitted that so did his competitors. It still doesn’t make sense.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

23. Henry Pearce’s Ducklings

Nobody could touch Henry ‘Bobby’ Pearce back in the day and he totally dominated the 1928 Olympics. The rower totally overwhelmed the reigning champion in his first race and easily won his second. When he got to his third competition things began to get very interesting. He was behind when a family of ducks were crossing in front of him.

Remarkably, Pearce stopped to let them pass in front of him. He then caught up to his opponent and still won the race. In the final, he’d set a world record that would stand for 44 years. Years later, his son claimed that if the race had been close, his father would have gone through them without stopping for breath.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

22. Kip Keino’s Gallstones

Kenya’s Kip Keino was orphaned as a child and used to have to run back and forth from school each day. So it was natural for him to progress and become a world-class athlete. Remarkably he took part in the 1968 Olympics and managed to finish the 10,000-meter race after collapsing to the floor in pain with gallstones.

Doctors ordered him to withdraw from the 1500-meter race, but did he listen? Of course not. He snuck out of the camp and took a bus to get to the race. It got stuck in traffic so he ran to the track, only just getting there on time. And he still went on to set a new Olympic record, beating his opponent by 20 meters. Sheer insanity.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

21. Pigeon Massacre

Do you know how the clay pigeon was invented? Well, fans of the Paris Summer Games in 1900 were directly responsible for a drastic change in how shooting games are carried out now. That was the last time that live targets were used in an Olympic game. As well as their normal events, they decided to hold an event shooting live pigeons.

As you might expect, many fans were horrified to see a load of bloody bird parts raining down from the sky. This led to a ban on shooting live targets, with the development of the clay pigeon in 1902. Of course, this had to have happened in France, didn’t it?

Mandatory Credit: Youtube.

20. Missing Olympic Flag

The Olympic flag is one of the most iconic in all of sport. Everybody recognises these five circles. But the world’s first version went missing for 77 years after the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp. In 1997 it was discovered after the world’s oldest Olympian at the time, Hal Haig Prieste, produced the flag he’d stolen during the event.

Prieste explained that he’d stolen the flag on a dare from one of his teammates. He’d climbed up the flagpole and ran away with it, escaping from the Belgian police. He then stashed it in his suitcase for 77 years, before finally returning it to the Olympic Committee. You’ve got to love the cheek of it. What a hero.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

19. Media Bus Shooting

Rio De Janeiro is a stunningly beautiful city with fabulous culture and incredible beaches. Unfortunately, it’s also a deeply divided society. There’s still a lot of poverty and crime in the favelas of the city meaning that caution is required when you go to certain areas. Just ask some journalists travelling on a media us in 2016.

Maybe the Olympic organizers should have taken a hint from the locals who refused to travel the designated route from Barra to Deodoro. Anyway, a bus full of journalists was shot at by a gang on the road, shattering windows. The Brazilian authorities claimed it was just hit by stones, but the bulletholes would suggest otherwise. They were lucky to escape with just cuts.

Mandatory Credit: Youtube.

18. Rio’s Green Water and Green Hair

Rio De Janeiro had some weird moments in 2016. One of the strangest though was the bizarre colour change in their swimming pools that saw two of their pools turn green. This was caused by a hydrogen peroxide mix-up that neutralised the chlorine, allowing algae to bloom. This led to viewers calling them ‘swamp pools.’

To add to the weirdness, US swimmer Ryan Lochte’s hair actually changed colour because of the pool problems. He had dyed his hair silver for some reason and paid the price of his stupidity. His hair carried a green tinge for the rest of the games.

Mandatory Credit: Youtube.

17. 1904 Olympic Marathon

This was possibly the most shambolic Olympic event of all time. The 1904 Olympic marathon was held in St. Louis and was total carnage. 32 competitors started but only 18 finished. One dropped out almost straight away because of dust and almost died. Another stole some peaches and got sick. A South African runner was chased by wild dogs.

One competitor, John Lorz, drove a car for 14 kilometres after dehydration. He was disqualified after they found out he cheated. Meanwhile, the winner took strychnine – rat poison – in small doses as a stimulant, because performance-enhancing drugs were perfectly legal. We need more races like this.

16. Australia’s Crazy Skating Win

Australian skater Steven Bradbury brought home gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. It’s fair to say that he had no expectation of winning. The closest he came was bronze in 1994 and in between the two events he had broken his neck and lost 10 litres of blood. Things turned out very different for him Stateside though.

In a hilarious series of events, Bradbury ended up in three demolition derbies. It happened in the quarter-finals and semis, before the final itself. In the medal event, he was the last man in a five-man pack. The Chinese skater in the lead fell and everybody else went down… except Bradbury who’d go on to snare the gold.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

15. Disqualified American Ice Hockey Teams

Ice hockey is one of the most entertaining team sports on the planet. It’s also highly competitive with a number of teams winning gold from around the world. However, in 1948, the US had not one, but two teams disqualified from the competition. Basically, there was a row over whether the American Hockey Association or the Amateur Athletic Union were the governing bodies for US hockey.

The latter was recognized by the Olympic committee because the former had issues with their sponsors. Neither team was allowed to compete, despite both being approved by different governing bodies. It was a total mess but now US hockey has definitely cleaned up their act.

14. Couch Kayaker

One of the major controversies in the build-up to the Games in Rio was the demolition of several favela areas and the displacement of people. This actually might have had a direct effect on the kayaking competition because one of the craziest stories to emerge from the competition was that one kayaker hit a floating couch and capsized.

Now to be fair, this is the only story on the list that we can’t corroborate, but it was heavily reported during the Games and with the pollution in Rio’s rivers, it really wouldn’t be that surprising. First reported by Sky Sports’ Paul Kelso, we really hope that it did happen because that would be hilarious.

13. Dangerous Luge Track Picked

The luge is one of the most dangerous sports in existence. Racers will reach speeds of up to 95kmh, putting their lives at risk if something goes wrong. There have been deaths – as recently as 2010 in Vancouver. Georgia’s Nodar Kumaritashvili died after hitting a pole towards the end of the track during a training run. Officials attracted major controversy for allowing the event to continue on the notoriously fast track.

As well as that tragedy, there were multiple other crashes on the Sliding Center course, with the 16th bend a particular worry for the athletes. One competitor accused the organizers of treating them like lemmings instead of valuing their lives. Killing your athletes isn’t a progressive way to play sports.

Mandatory Credit: Youtube.

12. Corrupt French Judge

There was a major scandal during the figure skating competition in 2002’s Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. The controversy led to both teams Russia and Canada being awarded gold medals. Marie-Reine Le Gougne was the woman in the middle of the scandal after she broke down and admitted she had been pressured into giving Russia higher points than Canada.

She was slammed with a three-year ban by ice-skating’s world governing body and banned from judging in the next Olympics. The entire judging system was replaced for the next games, although that would be changed again for the Sochi Olympics in Russia. The craziest part is that Russia did have a decent claim to deserving the gold. Technically they were better, although Canada had a better presentation.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

11. Annoying Marathon Winner 1952

Emil Zatopek was possibly the world’s most annoying Olympic gold medallist. According to his fellow athletes, he just wouldn’t shut up. No seriously, the man couldn’t stop talking, especially during races where he’s said to have been even more social than he was off the track. After winning the 5,000 and 10,000 metres he turned his attention to the marathon.

Hd didn’t even know the rules when he entered and because he was so annoying, Olympic officials refused to tell him. Zatopek’s strategy was to follow the favourite. He struck up a conversation with the unfortunate dude and went onto win gold. He didn’t even realize that he was allowed to stop for refreshments along the way.

Mandatory Credit: Youtube.

10. 1988 Boxing Brawl

There’s never more pressure to win than in front of your own fans. Just ask Byun Jong-Il, a South Korean boxer who was taking on Alexander Hristov in the 1988 Seoul Summer Games. The hometown hero was backed heavily by his countrymen, but they were disappointed when Hristov won a 4-1 decision. So they all swarmed the ring and attacked the referee.

Keith Walker, the man in the middle, was physically assaulted by the crowd, forcing armed guards to intervene and potentially save his life. He took several punches and after the match immediately fled the country out of fear for his life. That’s the Olympic spirit right there…

Mandatory Credit: Youtube.

9. Tonga’s Olympic Hero

We don’t have enough space to talk about Pita Taufatofua. Best known as the Tongan flagbearer, he captured the attention of the world with his oiled-up chest. The Taekwondo athlete competed in Rio De Janeiro, getting there against all of the odds. He lost in the first round, but that doesn’t really matter.

Even crazier is the fact that he competed in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018. Despite having hardly seen snow in his life, Taufatofua took part in the cross-country skiing event. He was the only athlete from Tonga and had run up $30,000 in debt to qualify. The thing he’s most proud of? He didn’t even finish last.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

8. Women Cheat by Heating Up Their Skates

There’s all that talk about the Olympic spirit but not every athlete plays by the rules. Countless competitors have been cited for doping, but there have been other types of cheating in both the Summer and Winter instalments. One of the most creative ideas was in Squaw Valley in 1962.

Ortrun Enderlein and two of her East German teammates decided to get an edge in the luge competition by heating up their skates. Enderlein finished first, while her teammates finished third and fourth. They were found out though and disqualified. The East German Olympic Committee literally blamed it on a “capitalist revanchist plot.”

7. Eddie the Eagle

Michael Edwards, AKA Eddie the Eagle, found himself ingrained in Olympic lore after competing in the 1988 Olympics. Obsessed with the competition, he wanted to be a speed skater but failed to qualify for 1984. However, he found a loophole when he realized that Britain had no jump skiers and he’d qualify by default if he just signed up. Edwards was offered his place while plastering a mental hospital in Finland. Yep.

He finished last in all of his jumps and was asked not to the second one in case he died. He didn’t and is now a legend. The Olympic committee changed the qualification rules after the Calgary games so that nothing like this could ever happen again. Sadly, Edwards never qualified again but there was a movie made about his life.

6. Slowest Olympic Swimmer

When you think of Olympic swimmers, Michael Phelps is definitely the man who jumps to mind. The American has broken all sorts of records throughout his career, but there’s one that he never managed to achieve. It belongs to Eric Moussambani from Equatoria Guinea, and it is spectacular.

He had never even swum in an Olympic swimming pool, let alone trained in one which makes his win all the more remarkable back in 2000. He wasn’t the favourite by any means but went on to seize victory after all of his competitors were disqualified for false starts. Moussambani holds the record for slowest time in history. Glorious.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

5. Tonya Harding v Nancy Kerrigan

It’s one of the wildest Olympic rivalries ever. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan were both competitors on the US women’s figure skating team, but that’s where their relationship ended. Kerrigan was infamously sabotaged by Harding’s estranged husband, who hired a guy to damage her chances.

The man, who masqueraded as a photographer, took that literally, breaking her knee. Harding won the National Championships and was allowed to compete in the Olympics. Kerrigan recovered though and would go on and win silver at the Games in Lillehammer. Kerrigan finished eight.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

4. Marathon Leader Attacked by Priest

Yet another marathon event – we could make an article out of just that single event – this time we’re looking at what happened in 2004 in Athens. Brazil’s Vanderlei de Lima was in the lead and looked like he was set to eke out a sensational victory. But he could never have predicted what would have happened next.

He was tackled by the kilt-wearing Cornelius ‘Neil’ Horan, a former priest with a history of drunkenness and mental illness. He would still finish the race but was forced to settle for third. De Lima was presented a special award for exemplifying Olympic spirit after continuing the event.

Mandatory Credit: Youtube.

3. Angel Matos Taekwondo ban

Taekwondo hasn’t been an Olympic sport for all that long. The Korean martial art isn’t exactly the most famous sport in the world, so it’s rare that its athletes make news headlines. Angel Matos did though in London, but for all of the wrong reasons. The Cuban fighter competed at the 2008 Games in Beijing and sustained a foot injury so he requested treatment.

That’s ok, but under Olympic Taekwondo rules, you are only allowed one minute of treatment. The time went over that and Matos was disqualified, with the bronze medal going to Kazakhastan’s Arman Chimanov. So his natural instinct was to go over to the judge and kick him in the head. He received a lifetime ban from the Olympics and the World Taekwondo Federation.

2. Burning Doves Seoul

There is about the Olympics and the unnecessary slaughter of birds isn’t there? In 1988, the games were held in Seoul, South Korea and they thought that it was a fantastic idea to unleash a flock of doves into the sky. As a symbol of peace and harmony, you can understand where they were coming from. It was a lovely idea but in practice, it didn’t work out so well.

On live television, watched by millions all around the world, they released the birds into the air. Unfortunately, they were too close to the Olympic flame and the poor birds were incinerated by fire. The crowd didn’t know what was going on so they just cheered wildly. You’ve got to love it.

1. Alpine Skater Crashes and Walks Away

The Winter Olympics has some incredibly dangerous sports. Downhill Alpine Skating is just one of these, with skaters reaching speeds of 65-80kmh. In Nagano, 1998, officials were worried about a section on their course. They tried to fix it but the section still was dangerous… as everybody watching found out.

World Champion Hermann Maier had a reputation for being reckless and he lived up to it by refusing to slow down for this sketchy part of the course. He smashed into it at 70kmh and landed about 50 metres away. Deaths have happened in this sport before so it was incredible to see him get up and just walk away. That didn’t stop him from winning two gold medals at the games