13 Outrageous Olympic Moments That Made History For All The Wrong Reasons

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13 Outrageous Olympic Moments That Made History For All The Wrong Reasons


The Olympic Games are the world's biggest sporting event, and that means two things: they feature the world's best athletes competing on the highest stage, and something is bound to go wrong. Really wrong.

The cameras were rolling when these 13 downright weird events stunned the world. Which is good, because otherwise we wouldn't believe they happened at all.

1. What a difference five centimeters makes


Gymnastic fans who tuned in to the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia were stunned to watch one competitor after another miss their vaults.

Australian gymnast Allana Slater was the first person to spot the problem: the vault block was five centimeters too short, which had a huge impact on the jumps. The block was reset, but many competitors were too shaken by their falls to recover.

2. Run Abebe, run


Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila has two claims to fame: he's incredibly fast, and he has really tough feet. When he couldn't find a pair of running shoes that suited him, Bikila ran the 1960 marathon in Rome barefoot.

And - of course - he won and set an Olympic Record. He's just lucky there weren't any Lego pieces along the race track.

3. Seoul releases the roasted doves

Doves, the universal symbol for peace, have always been an important part of Olympic opening ceremonies. But live doves haven't been used since the Seoul games in 1988. The plan was for the doves to fly off from the Olympic torch during its lighting, but many of the poor birds were roasted alive instead.

4. Boxing crowd picks a fight with the referee

The South Korean crowd storms the boxing ring.Gusts Of Popular Feeling

Olympic referee Keith Walker was just doing his job when he gave Korean boxer Jong-il Byun a penalty for headbutting. But when Byun lost the match, the South Korean crowd broke out in a riot.

Even South Korean officials and stadium security guards attacked Walker. "I was very concerned at the time," the judge remembered about the scary moment.

5. Last man swimming

Mundo Deportivo

Eric "the Eel" Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea had never even seen an Olympic-size swimming pool before the games in Sydney. So how did he win a race against the world's best swimmers?

They eliminated themselves with false starts. Moussambani won his race just by finishing, and even though his time was too slow to advance to the next round, there's no denying he made Olympic history.

6. Tonya and Nancy

Daily Mirror

There's no single moment that sums up the strange face-off between figure skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Winter Olympics. After a violent attempt to sabotage Kerrigan failed, the two women competed in an event full of tears, dramatic re-dos, and a surprise ending that saw Harding finish in eighth place.

It was enough drama to inspire a Hollywood film, which of course it did.

7. That's not allowed


A bronze medal was on the line for Cuban martial artist Angel Matos when a disagreement over a time-out cost him the match. Matos let Swedish referee Chakir Chelbat know exactly how he felt about the decision. with a roundhouse kick to the head.

The kick earned Matos and his coach a lifetime ban from the Olympics.

8. It's (probably) safe to swim in

Water polo players and divers at the summer games in Rio had an extra challenge added to their competitions: murky green water in the pools. A chemical balance was blamed for the color, which was so dark athletes couldn't see each other underwater.

9. The voice

The Beijing Olympics had an incredible opening ceremony, and one of the standout moments was when eight-year-old Lin Miaoke performed a patriotic Chinese song.

Lin (in red) with Yang (in pink).Hidden Harmonies

But news quickly broke that Miaoke had been lip syncing. The original singer and the voice on the recording, seven-year-old Yang Peiyi, was swapped at the last minute by organizers, partly because of her looks.

10. Greg Louganis uses his head

The Guardian

It seemed like the American diver's chances at Olympic gold in 1988 were crushed when he slammed his head into a diving board. Against all odds, and in spite of a concussion, Louganis came back to win the gold medal with an impressive 25 point lead.

The comeback earned him the title of ABC's "Athlete of the Year."

11. Slow and steady wins the race

Australian speed skater Steven Bradbury knew he was lucky to make it to the finals of the 1,000 meter event in 2002. To hedge his bets, the skater came up with a brilliant plan:

Profile Mag

I was the oldest bloke in the field and I knew that, skating four races back to back, I wasn't going to have any petrol left in the tank. So there was no point in getting there and mixing it up because I was going to be in last place anyway. So (I figured) I might as well stay out of the way and be in last place and hope that some people get tangled up.

Bradbury's gamble paid off when all four of the other racers wiped out, leaving him to glide over the finish line and earn a gold medal.

12. A one-of-a-kind protest


A pair of wrestling coaches from Mongolia were slapped with a three-year ban after stripping off their clothes and refusing to leave the ring in 2016. When a judging decision cost their wrestler the match, the coaches shouted, ripped off their clothes, and confronted the referees.

As you can guess, the weird display didn't convince the judges to change their minds.

13. The Dancing Priest


Brazilian marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro was in the lead towards the end of the race at the Athens games in 2004, when a spectator jumped out of the crowd and tackled him. The man was Neil Horan, an Irish former priest, who wanted to raise awareness for the end of the world (which he believed was coming soon).

Lima only managed to finish in third place after shaking off the Dancing Priest.

How many of these Olympic moments do you remember?

[H/T: The Tempest]

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories.