The Olympic Games have always been a showcase of human athleticism, skill and determination. From the ancient Greek games to the modern Olympic Games, the event has captivated spectators around the world.
Amidst all the triumphs, however, there have also been some shocking moments that have left spectators stunned. In this article, we take a look at the 16 most shocking moments in the history of the Olympics.
List of the Most Shocking Moments in the Olympics
1. Munich Massacre, 1972 Olympics
The 1972 Olympic Games will forever be remembered for the tragedy that occurred on September 5, when Palestinian terrorists stormed the Olympic Village and took Israeli athletes hostage. In the end, 11 athletes, coaches and officials were killed and the games were suspended for 24 hours.
2. Ben Johnson’s Steroid Scandal, 1988 Olympics
In the 100-meter final at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson left the competition behind and set a new world record. But just two days later it became known that he had tested positive for anabolic steroids and was stripped of his gold medal.
3. Nancy Kerrigan’s Attack, 1994 Olympics
Just before the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, American figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by an assailant who struck her on the knee with a police baton. It later turned out that the attacker had been hired by the ex-husband of Kerrigan’s rival, Tonya Harding.
4. Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou’s Doping Scandal, 2004 Olympics
Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were expected to win medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics. However, shortly before the start of the Games, they failed a doping test and were subsequently banned from participating in the Games.
5. Greg Louganis Hits His Head, 1988 Olympics
During the men’s 3-meter springboard competition at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, American diver Greg Louganis hit his head on the springboard while performing an inverted 2½-pike jump. Despite his injury, Louganis won the gold medal.
6. Mary Decker’s Collision, 1984 Olympics
During the women’s 3,000-meter race at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, American runner Mary Decker collided with South African Zola Budd, causing Decker to fall and injure herself. Budd finished the race in seventh place, while Decker did not finish.
7. Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, 1988 Olympics
At the 1988 Calgary Olympics, British ski sweater Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards became a crowd favorite despite finishing last in both the 70-meter and 90-meter jumps. Edwards’ determination and fighting spirit thrilled fans around the world.
8. Derek Redmond’s Injury, 1992 Olympics
During the men’s 400-meter race at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, British runner Derek Redmond tore his hamstring halfway through the race. Despite the injury, Redmond hobbled to the finish line with the help of his father, who had come down from the stands to support him.
9. Rosie Ruiz’s Fraudulent Win, 1980 Boston Marathon
In the 1980 Boston Marathon, Rosie Ruiz was the first woman to cross the finish line, but it later turned out that she had taken a shortcut and had not run the entire distance. Ruiz was stripped of the title and the actual winner, Jacqueline Gareau, was declared the winner.
10. The Black Power Salute, 1968 Olympics
During the medal ceremony of the men’s 200-meter dash at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a Black Power salute to protest racial inequality in the United States. The gesture was controversial and condemned, and both athletes were expelled from the Olympic Village.
11. Usain Bolt’s Record-Breaking Performances, 2008 and 2012 Olympics
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt captured the world’s attention with his record-breaking performances at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, where he won gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters and the 4×100-meter relay. Bolt’s charisma and lightning speed made him a popular figure in the world of athletics.
13. Simone Biles Withdraws from Team and Individual Competitions, 2021 Olympics
At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, American gymnast Simone Biles withdrew her participation in the team and individual all-around competitions, citing mental health problems. The decision shocked fans and experts alike, with many praising Biles for putting her well-being above competition.
14. Eric Moussambani’s Swim, 2000 Olympics
Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea became an unlikely hero at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when he competed in the men’s 100-meter freestyle swimming event. Although he had only learned to swim a few months earlier and had never trained in a 50-meter pool, Moussambani finished the race alone in a time of 1:52.72, becoming a symbol of perseverance and determination.
15. Ryan Lochte’s Fabricated Robbery Story, 2016 Olympics
During the 2016 Rio Olympics, American swimmer Ryan Lochte claimed he and his teammates were robbed at gunpoint at a gas station. However, it later emerged that Lochte had fabricated the story and vandalized the gas station. The incident sparked international controversy and led to Lochte being suspended from swimming competitions.
16. Michael Phelps’ Dominance, 2004-2016 Olympics
American swimmer Michael Phelps cemented his place in Olympic history with his dominant performances at the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics. Phelps won an incredible 23 gold medals and set numerous world records, making him one of the greatest athletes of all time.
The Olympic Games have given us countless memorable moments, from triumphs of the human spirit to shocking scandals and controversies. Whether the tragic events of the Munich Massacre or the awe-inspiring performances of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, the Olympics continue to capture our hearts and our imaginations.
These 16 moments are just a small sample of the many dramatic and unforgettable moments that have made the Olympics a truly unique and special event.