The Olympic Games are supposed to represent humanity at its best. The athletes competing are meant to be the pinnacle of physical and mental achievement. Even at our best though we’re still only human.
That means that things can still go wrong. Even Olympic athletes are capable of bending, breaking, and crashing spectacularly.
In anticipation of the latest edition of the Olympiad, which kicks off on Friday in London, we’ve assembled a collection of videos that remind us just how fallible the athletes competing over the two weeks of the games really are.
Also, if the events going down in London suddenly inspire you to change your lazy ways, watch these videos again. Maybe you’ll realise that the couch isn’t such a bad place after all.
1. Weightlifter’s arm twists at unnatural angle
The Beijing games were Hungarian weightlifter Janos Baranyai’s first Olympics. Competing in the ‘Clean and Jerk’, he was trying to lift 148kg when his elbow popped out of its socket. If your gut doesn’t wrench at Baranyai’s screams, there’s something wrong with you.
2. Greg Louganis hits his head
This is probably one of the most famous accidents in Olympic history. At the 1988 Seoul games US diver Greg Louganis was on track to win gold in the tower diving event. During the heats however, he managed to hit his head on the springboard.
Despite a concussion, Louganis went on to win gold… but he’ll always be known as the guy who hit his head on a diving board.
3. Adrienne Nyeste catapults off uneven bars
As soon as things get a little aerial, gymnastics is one of those sports that leaves you with your heart in your mouth. Hungarian athlete Adrienne Nyeste shows us exactly what it is we dread every time we watch the sport.
4. Pole vaulter gets it where it really hurts
If you’re a man you might not want to watch this. It involves a Swedish pole vaulter at the 2000 Sydney games getting hit in that most sensitive of areas by his pole. He cleared the bar, but we’re pretty sure that was the last thing on his mind right then.
5. Gail Devers trips at the last hurdle
At the Barcelona games in 1992, US sprinter Gail Devers was on track to win gold in the 100 metre hurdles, having already done so in the 100 metre sprint. She was leading right until the last hurdle, which she tripped on, causing her to somersault over the line. This clip makes us wince at the pain of falling and of a champion seeing her hopes dashed.
6. Gymnast faceplants on uneven bars
This is a montage of some of the falls from the gymnastics competition at the 2008 Beijing games. Some are more embarrassing than others. The particular fall we’ve singled out happens at around 0:13 in the video. Try and hold yourself back from gasping “oof” as the gymnast falls face first into the higher of the uneven bars.
7. Paralympics wheelchair crash
If you want to be pedantic, you could argue that the Paralympics encompass a different set of events to the able-bodied games, but they’re contested at the same venues and in the same spirit. And as people like Oscar Pistorious and Natalie du Toit have shown, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred. If anything, this crash is more wince-worthy than any of the others. Except maybe the pole-vaulting Swede.
8. Derek Redmond crashes out in Barcelona
Along with the Greg Louganis clip at number three, you’ll see this in a lot of inspirational Olympic compilations in the coming days, and for every Olympics thereafter. For now though, forget what you know about the story behind Derek Redmond. Pretend that you’re watching the clip for the first time. This isn’t the same as you or me niggling our “hammie” during a game of squash. Redmond tears his hamstring at full tilt. It’s immediate, shooting pain.
Right. Feel free to resume being inspired by the story and the Josh Groban soundtrack.