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The 13 Most Incredible Stories About Olympic Medal Winners

Olympians are an interesting breed. They strive against life and limb to compete, to prove themselves, to represent their country and to be the best in the world at something. Here are thirteen incredible stories about Olympians doing everything they can to win, to finish or to even compete. From a man with gall stones who ran two miles to get to the stadium, won a race, then was rushed to the hospital, to a woman who overcame paralysis, to a man who stopped rowing mid-race for a family of ducks and still won -- these are the thirteen wildest stories about Olympic athletes, and what they'll do for a chance at the gold.

  • Teofilo Stevenson Turns Down $5 Million for His Country

    Photo: Settnik, Bernd / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

    Could you turn down a million dollars in the name of your compatriots? I didn't think so. However, Teofilo Stevenson, an amateur Cuban boxer, was offered $5 million USD to go professional and take on the current world heavyweight champion, a guy you might know as Muhammad Ali. Instead of taking the money and running, Teofilo turned down the offer saying "What is one million dollars compared to the love of eight million Cubans?" Like a boss. Even though it was five million. He went on to win three Olympic gold medals for Cuba in the 1980 Summer Olympics.

    I guess turning down money like that is fairly easy knowing that around half of that eight million populous includes women that want to jump your bones. Being gracious is simple when you know you'll be treated like a king for the rest of your life. The amount of free cigars and Cuba Libre's probably add up to around $2 million, so he's on his way.
  • Betty Robinson Overcomes Being Legally Dead, Paralyzed to Win the Gold

    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Poor Betty Robinson. She was originally a silver medal winner in the 4 x 100 meter relay race, but there was no more running in her future when she was in a plane crash in 1931. It's one thing to be in a plane crash and survive - it's another to be wrongly pronounced dead and then tossed into the trunk of a car. When the undertaker realized she wasn't dead, they took her to a hospital where she lay in a coma for seven months. After losing the ability to walk, you might assume she'd take some time off, relax a bit, but that isn't Betty Robinson. She wo-manned up, learned to walk again, and in the 1936 Summer Olympics, she took home a gold medal in the 4 x 100 relay.

    Throwing this out there. If anyone threw me into a trunk, I would want to repay the favor. And considering this chick is pretty fast, she could technically run that dude down, even if he was in a car. I imagine the headline would be "Betty Robinson Beats Man to Death with a Relay Baton."
  • Kipchoge ‘Kip’ Keino Runs 2 Miles to Stadium and Wins Race with Gallstones

    Photo: Ralf Roletschek / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    The Olympics wait for no man, and Kip Keino knows that all too well. Suffering from a bad case of gallstones (really, is there ever a good case?), a German doctor insisted that running in the 1968 Summer Olympics would endanger him severely, but nothing would stop Kip. In the 10,000 meter race, he collapsed with a lap to go. Instead of calling it quits, Keino showed up four days later to run in the 5,000 meter race and took the silver. Although he was told not to run again, Keino was determined to take part in the 1,500 meter race. An hour prior to the race, still incredibly unwell, he boarded a bus, but was caught in a massive amount of traffic. Keino, already quite late for the event, ran two miles to the stadium in time to register for the race. He won that race and set a new Olympic record time. Shortly after the Games, Keino had the gallstones removed.

    I wonder if Kip tried to have the gallstones added to the Olympic medals he received, or if they sat creepily in a jar on a mantle. He would get them down from the shelf every so often and make his grandchildren hold them while he talked about what it means to be a champion.
  • Bobby Pearce Stops to Let a Family of Ducks Pass, Still Wins

    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Typically, Olympic athletes only have to worry about the other athletes during the Games, but in Bobby Pearce's case, nature decided to interject. In the 1928 Olympics, Pearce was having a ball, winning all of his rowing races with little effort. When the quarter finals rolled around, he was dominating his other opponents when a family of ducks came into his lane. Instead of just plowing right through the fuzzy little creatures, Pearce stopped rowing to let them pass. He won the race by 20 lengths and still broke the course record. The ladies love a man who brakes for ducks.

    This guy might be a hero, but seriously, what a dick. Pearce takes the time to stop, and then completely blows past his competition. It's the rowing equivalent of showboating. It's showrowing.