Broken legs, misplaced elbows, green pool water, potential barbell murders and more. The Olympics is truly a spectacular event that brings out the best athletes on the plant to compete against one another for fame and glory.
Unfortunately, not every one of those athletes can have their A-game on 24/7. Check out these Olympic fails and find out for yourself how agonizing the Games can be for athletes.
Vincenzo Nibali Ended Up In The ICU
Road-race favorite Vincenzo Nibali was surging towards victory in the cycling when he careered out of control. Nibali broke both collarbones after he and Sergio Henao crashed on the same stretch on the final descent.
Henao didn’t walk away unscathed either, fracturing his pelvis. Immediately, the route was criticized by former Olympic track champion Chris Boardman who questioned whether the course was safe enough to ride on. The cycling governing body, the UCI, said after the accident that the course had been thoroughly checked.
Laurine van Riessen Got Pinned
French rider Virginie Cueff shoved Laurine van Riessen onto the outer wall with her shoulder in the cycling event. This caused Olivia Podmore and Tania Calvo Barbero to crash behind — leaving them all in a heap.
The collision occurred on the final lap of the second heat of women’s keirin sprinting event in the velodrome. The riders walked away unaided and the surface was patched up, by a volunteer with a ladder, using duct tape.
Stephan Feck Spins Out Of Control
Germany’s Stephan Feck attempted a somersault but lost the grip on one leg, which saw him spin out of control and land flat on the water flat on his back with a huge thud during the Rio Olympics.
The athlete slowly climbed out of the pool following the harsh dive but was apparently unhurt. After huge gasps from the crowd during the men’s three-meter springboard, he ultimately received zeroes from all the judges.
Malaysia’s Ahmad Amsyar Azman struggled during the preliminary round during the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The 23-year-old diver hit the surface flat on his stomach, finishing last and failing to qualify for the semifinal the next day.
Previous champion Ilya Zakharov, who was 25 at the time of the competition, competed in the semis the next day but didn’t fare much better than his counterpart.
Shang Chunsong was the first to admit she was nervous at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Before she took the floor, she told interviewers, ”Everyone is a little bit nervous because we want to compete in the finals. We can do better.” She added, “We just need to enjoy the process. If you enjoy what you do, then the results will be good.”
Unfortunately, Chunsong’s vault went awry on the uneven bars and she struggled throughout her routine. Walking defeated off stage, she said during the Q&A that she feared she might not make it to Rio after being laid low with fever.
The Difference Between Silver And Gold
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron were favored to take home the gold medal during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang — that is before a wardrobe malfunction made things take a turn for the worse. Papadakis’ halter was unfastened at the beginning of their routine. The halter gradually slipped down, which exposed her chest. Papadakis carried on throughout the duo’s performance, but the accidental flashing left her in tears by the end and the athlete quickly fled the ice, skipping the Q&A with the media.
Later, Cizeron told interviewers, “It is not what we get ready for when we train,” he said. “I am still proud that we managed to pull out a program like that even with a difficulty like this.” The pair returned to the ice and had stellar performances, eventually taking home a silver medal.
Dorando Pietri Finished First But Was Disqualified
In 1908 Olympics, Dorando Pietri of Italy finished first in the marathon. The athlete trained hard leading up to the event, and his efforts paid off…sort of.
Pietri finished the race with an impressive time — 25 miles in just two hours and 38 minutes. With just two miles to go, Pietri started feeling the effects of the race and collapsed four times. He was helped to his feet by the umpires four different times and crossed the finish line first. Unfortunately, he was subsequently disqualified and the winning title was given to John Hayes of the USA.
Etenesh Diro Lost A Shoe
In the women’s 3000 meters steeplechase during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Etenesh Diro of Ethiopia competed without a shoe.
After a collision, the athlete lost and shoe. Realizing she would lose too much time trying to put it back on, she continued running without it. Amazingly, she was still able to qualify amongst the first three place finishers and was guaranteed a spot in the finals. After the event, she was affectionately dubbed the “Cinderella of Rio 2016.”
Melissa Hoskins Was Rushed To The Hospital
Australian Melissa Hoskins was stretchered off to the hospital with a damaged hip following a huge team crash. She was training at full race speed with the pursuit squad when she went down heavily with three teammates.
Hoskins was taken to hospital with an injured hip following the accident in the velodrome. But less than 48 hours later she was back on her bike, bandaged up and running through a training session. Hardcore!
Annemiek van Vleuten Was Seriously Injured
Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten was in first place with only 10 kilometers to go in the Women’s Road Race when she took a sharp turn and crashed violently. She was thrown from her bike and the impact left her with three cracked vertebrae and a severe concussion.
She had six miles left in an 87-mile course and was in the lead. Although she was hospitalized, her team-mate took home the gold for the Netherlands and van Vleuten was back on her bike just 10 days later.
Khalil Mahmoud K Abir Abdelrahman
Egyptian weightlifter Khalil Mahmoud K Abir Abdelrahman had a horrific fall when she competed in the Women’s 75 Kilograms Weightlifting Final in London.
Slipping backward, the weights fell onto her chest and trapped her beneath them, causing injuries. According to reports at the time, she had to be rushed to the hospital.
Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8
During the London 2012 Olympic Games, Clarisse Cruz of Portugal fell during her round one women’s 3000-meter steeplechase heat.
Cruz tripped over a hurdle but amazingly, she managed to qualify for the final with a personal best time of 9:30.06. During the final, she placed eleventh with a time of 9:32.44.
Manteo Mitchell Broke His Leg Mid-Run
America made the men’s 4×400 meter relay final at the Olympics despite the fact that runner Manteo Mitchell broke his leg halfway round the track. The 25-year-old athlete took the first leg of America’s heat, and although he finished with a limp there was no obvious sign of the pain he was feeling.
He said afterwards: “I got out pretty slow, but I picked it up and when I got to the 100-metre mark it felt weird. As soon as I took the first step past the 200-meter mark, I felt it break. I heard it.”
Armenian weightlifter Andranik Karapetyan crashed out of the Olympics in agony as his left elbow gave way while he attempted the clean and jerk. He was lifting a whopping 195 kilograms when his elbow totally dislocated.
Luckily, the 20-year-old had lots of experience and was able to take evasive action in time to save himself from further injury. He suffered a dislocated elbow.
TV Camera Crashes to Ground From 65ft
At least seven people were injured at the Rio Olympics when an overhead TV camera crashed to the ground from 65 feet. Shocking pictures show two of the female victims looking dazed, sitting near where the black camera crashed.
Among those injured in the incident involving the 600-kilogram camera at the Olympic Park was an 11-year-old girl. One woman, bleeding from her head, was taken away on a stretcher. Another walked away with a neck brace.
Kitty van Male
Netherlands hockey star Kitty van Male fell to her knees during the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
The 28-year-old forward grimaced as she was clobbered in the face by Argentina’s Agustina Habif, out in the rain. But her Dutch teammates were celebrating at the end of their quarter-final after a 3-2 win saw them progress.
This poor lady was having the time of her life. She was one of the honored, allowed to relay the 2016 Olympic torch to its next destination.
Someone actually tried to put out the torch with a fire extinguisher earlier in her run, but they failed. Later on down the road, this woman face-planted. Hard. Luckily for her, there don’t seem to be any super clear pics of the incident.
Team GB’s Mark Cavendish was involved in a horrific high-speed crash that took out three cyclists. The rider, from the Isle of Man, clashed with Sanghoon Park, knocking the South Korean off his bike.
Park was carried out of the velodrome on a stretcher as he received medical aid and the race was briefly halted. In the crash, Italian Elia Viviani came off his bike along with Australian rider Glen O’Shea. Cavendish won the silver.
Defending Olympic weightlifting champion Matthias Steiner had a lucky escape earlier in the 2012 Games when he dropped his 432-pound barbell onto his neck.
Losing his balance on his second lift of the competition, Steiner couldn’t sustain the weights above his head during the snatch portion of the platform. Falling awkwardly as the barbell landed on top of him, medical personnel rushed to his aid and hastily erected a shield around him while he was tended to.
China’s National Flag
Subtle mistakes were noticed in China’s national flag on display at the Olympics, with media, sports officials and the country’s diplomats seeking answers to the apparent mix-up.
“It is a principle that even primary school students would understand,” said Cui Yongyuan, a Chinese television presenter. And he’s right. The epic blunder that is the Rio Olympics couldn’t even seem to get this one right.
US gymnast Christopher Brooks fell while competing in the qualifying for the pommel horse. It took Brooks half a minute just to list the surgeries he’s had – both ankles, his shoulder, hand, thumb, that forearm – and that’s on top of the aches and pains every elite athlete has.
Though he’s been one of the best and most consistent gymnasts the U.S. have had – since 2010, he’s never been lower than fifth at nationals or Winter Cup, an annual ranking meet – the Olympics are only his third major international event. But he promised his father he’d make it there, and he did.
Taiwan’s Tan Chi-Chung fell as he competed during the men’s 56kg weightlifting event. Then again, it seems that so many fell at this event that officials should rethink the sport for the next Olympics.
Male and female alike have fallen all over the place this year. It’s a very competitive sport, but it’s quite a fail if half the team members wind up slipping and falling.
Britain’s Claudia Fragapane fell while competing in the qualifying for the women’s beam event. Fragapane, a quadruple gold medalist at the Glasgow Commonwealth
Games two years ago, failed to match her towering potential, with falls on the bar and beam causing her to miss a place in the all-around final by an agonizingly fine margin. The waterworks began and her loved ones were on hand to build her back up.
Yusleidy Mariana Figueroa Roldan
Yusleidy Mariana Figueroa Roldan of Venezuela fell as she competed in the 58-kilogram weightlifting competition. Slips do happen at every event, and this one was no different.
Luckily, Yusleidy didn’t injure herself. These athletes train day and night for years and really know how to avoid most injuries. She got up and kept going.
Japanese gymnast Koji Yamamuro fell off the pommel horse at the Rio 2016 Olympic games. Koji had a bad landing on the vault and fell during his parallel bar routine.
He just looked to like falling off of everything. Is that an Olympic sport now? He also fell numerous times from several objects during the London Olympics. Bless him for trying, though.
No fail here. Derek Redmond is not a name that conjures up memories of Olympic gold medals. But it is Redmond who defines the essence of the human spirit. Derek hurt his leg at the 1992 Olympics while running the 400-meter race. He refused an ambulance, determined to finish the race.
His father leaped from the stands and gave him a hand, keeping Derek balanced for the last 120 meters. 65,000 people cheered them both on. Derek finished the last few feet himself.
Team GB gymnast Ellie Downie botched a landing from a somersault and fell on her neck during a floor routine. She attempted to finish the routine but had to abandon the effort, requiring assistance to walk from the arena.
Three days later she fell off the balance beam during the artistic gymnastics final as Britain finished fifth.
Choppy waters left rowers struggling to stay in their boats, with Milos Vasic and Nenad Benik capsizing. The Serbians went into the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon and fellow rowers said the incident was “unfortunate.”
The moment, which took place on August 6, was billed as the first time a boat has capsized in the Olympics since Athens 2004. New Zealand rower Hamish Bond labeled the conditions at the ‘upper limit of what you hope to row in’.
At the start of the final lap of the 1500 meter race in London, Morgan Uceny’s left knee contacted the back-kicking left foot of the runner in front of her, Ekaterina Kostetskaya, and Uceny fell hard onto the track as the pack moved on, injuring her back and right side.
She did not finish the race and left the stadium in tears. Fellow American Shannon Rowbury finished in sixth place.
Gymnast Nastia Liukin didn’t even make it to the Olympics when she fell. While completing her routine at the USA Olympic trials in 2012, she missed a hold on the bar and slammed face down into the crash pads.
Despite them breaking her fall, the impact looked painful. She was very lucky.
China’s hurdling hopeful Liu Xiang hit the first obstacle in the 110-metre event. Xiang limped out at the starting line in front of his home crowd four years ago in Beijing with an Achilles problem and fell hard at the first obstacle in the race this year.
Xiang, who had been one of the gold medal favorites, crashed into the first hurdle, aggravating an already weakened Achilles, and was eliminated from the race.
Landing directly on your head is not the ideal way of finishing off your Olympic debut, and no one knows that better than Ellis O’Reilly. Her last routine, on the beam, had started well she as nailed a double back cartwheel and also a standing back somersault.
But when it came to the dismount, O’Reilly misjudged her rotation completely and landed more or less upside down.
Just when media critics thought it was safe to watch television without fear of being exposed to bathing suit area body parts, NBC accidentally broadcast a wardrobe malfunction.
During a live telecast for the Olympic water polo face-off between the U.S. and Spain, the network’s underwater camera caught a struggle between opposing players in which a female player’s breast was inadvertently exposed.
The qualifying round of the men’s pole vault took a dramatic turn when Cuba’s Lázaro Borges saw his pole snap in mid-flight. Thankfully, the athlete did not appear hurt after the incident.
I’d imagine it would be very difficult to fully inspect a pole for damage, but I’m no expert. Unfortunately in the Olympics, you only really have one shot to move forward, failed equipment or not.
Samir Ait Said
The horrifying injury suffered by French gymnast Samir Ait Said on the men’s vault on August 6 at the 2016 Olympics sparked worldwide attention and sympathy. The 26-year-old, who was born in Tunisia, was considered a medal hope in the rings.
In a newspaper interview last week, he left no doubt that he intends to try to return to competition. His leg was severely broken from the vault landing and required surgery, but he’s on the mend.
This is not exactly Olympics stuff, but is a funny sidenote. During the World Championships in Rome in 2009, American swimmer Ricky Berens was competing in a qualifying heat for the 4×100 freestyle relay.
He bent down to stretch before diving in, and his swimsuit ripped right up the back, exposing his entire backside. That didn’t stop him from swimming in the race with his team, where they not only qualified but went on to win first place.
Don’t Drink the Water
The world was left scratching its head this week when the Olympic diving pool suddenly turned a nasty shade of green. Now the reason behind the mysterious change has been revealed.
According to Olympics organizers, an unauthorized dump of 80 liters of hydrogen peroxide was to blame. The chemical allowed algae to grow at a pretty speedy rate. FAIL!
Remember “Lay-down Sally?” At the Athens Olympic games in 2004, Australian Sally Robbins appeared to give up while rowing in the women’s eights final, lying down and looking exhausted as they neared the finish line. Australia ended up in last place.
She was given the nickname “Lay-down Sally” and was heavily criticized for the move. People also suggested it wasn’t the first time she’d pulled such a move. Despite attempting to make it to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, she wasn’t selected for the squad.
U.S. diver Greg Louganis is one of the greatest male divers in history, but he made a name for himself at the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul in a way he had never envisioned. During a reverse somersault dive in the preliminaries of the 3-meter springboard competition, Greg hit his head on the end of the board.
The gash across his forehead later required five stitches and left a permanent scar, but that didn’t stop Greg climbing back on the board less than 30 minutes after the accident and executing the best-scored dive of the day which later earned him a gold medal.
This was simply not her day. American Tamara Vega from New Mexico was getting ready to take a nasty tumble at the 2012 Olympics.
Trying to hold onto a several hundred pound horse while it leaps over a very high hurdle is not recommended. Especially when you don’t have full control of the beast and even less control of your grip.