Unlike in the Greek legends, today’s Olympians are mere mortals, and they make mistakes. Here’s a sampling of some memorable Olympic tumbles and a cheer for the athletes that pick themselves up and keep going.
Stephen Feck — 2012
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You've got to be wondering what hurts more: Stephen Feck's back or his pride? After slipping on the board, the German diver lost control and instead of completing his three and a half forward somersault, he back-flopped into the pool. The poor feckless Feck placed last after receiving the lowest score in Olympic history: a big, fat, flopping zero from all seven judges. At least Feck can go home knowing he broke a record.
Welisson Silva — 2008
Welisson Silva can be seen here plopping onto his rump during the weight-lifting competition during the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing. Silva was the first weightlifter Brazil had sent to the summer Olympics in 12 years. The country’s return to the sport, however, could not get off the ground.
Angel Matos — 2008
Also at the Beijing games, Angel Matos stuck his foot where it don’t belong. The Cuban taekwondo gold medalist from 2000 went up in arms (or feet, rather) over the referee’s decision to disqualify him in the Bronze medal match. Matos kicked the ref in the face and was subsequently banned from both the International Olympic Committee and the World Taekwondo Federation. He’s probably kicking himself over that one.
Jiang Yuyan — 2008
Whomp! China’s pip squeak gymnastics dynamo, Jiang Yuyan, can be seen here landing a maneuver square on the tush. Although the 16-year old was a vital part of China’s gold medal team, Jiang only finished sixth because of her tumble on the vault. Jump to 0:18 to hear the muted thud of Olympic disappointment.
Vanderlei de Lima — 2004
Running a marathon is not easy: the competitors have to deal with heat, thirst, exhaustion and, of course, the occasional kilted lunatic. Vanderlei de Lima, a Brazilian runner, knows all about those hazards after a dastardly Dubliner dashed his dreams of Olympic gold during the 2004 Athens games. De Lima had been well in the lead, approaching the finish line, when a deranged Irishman in a kilt burst from the crowd and attacked. The assault took him out of the lead. De Lima finished in third and never again competed in the Olympics. Skip to 0:58 to watch it all go down.
Gail Devers — 1992
The whole world collectively cringed in 1992 when Gail Devers, an American track star, tripped over the last hurdle of the 100-meter race, causing her to skid across the finish line. Her fall was cushioned by the fact that she had already won a gold medal at the Barcelona games — and that she would go on to win two more at subsequent Olympics. But still, ouch.
Hermann Maier — 1998
This crash happened during the 1998 Winter Olympics, but it absolutely had to be included. Hermann Maier’s world famous wipeout is every alpine skier’s nightmare. He went soaring off the track at over 70 mph, landing on his head and crashing through two fences. Still, Maier walked away from the crash on his own and won two gold medals a few days later. No wonder he’s called the Herminator.