Everyone loves a good underdog story (except for maybe those who end up being remembered as the losers) and Olympic history is full of them. The Olympics are a massive world stage and every four years, the world becomes captivated by the games - and especially by their stories of triumph. Stars come out of the woodwork and there are always some unexpected winners.
One of the most memorable instances of this was in 1980, when the U.S. Men's Hockey team shocked the world by beating the heavily favored Soviets. It has since been deemed the Miracle on Ice and the story was even made into an acclaimed movie, but that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Olympic underdog stories.From track and field to the swimming pool, every four years we get more inspiring Olympian stories. With the Winter and Summer Olympics taking place alternately every two years, you never have too long to wait for new tales of the Olympic underdogs. Luckily, past occasions have yet to lose their magic. Seeing someone who really just shouldn't have won win it all is still one of the most special things in sports, and that'll likely never change.
Emil Zátopek - Gold Medal in the Marathon, 1952
Zátopek may have known how to move his legs to run, but he wasn't an Olympic trained runner. He ran because the shoe company he worked for started to force him to race. Fortunately, it turned out he was pretty good at it. Zátopek decided to try his hand at marathon running - after having won gold in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races - and despite his severe lack of training, he not only won a gold medal, but also broke the record for fastest marathon time.
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The Blind Record-Holding Archer
Im Dong-Hyun - Gold Medals in Archery, 2004 and 2008Im Dong-Hyun is a seriously impressive guy. Not only is he one of the best archers in the world, but he's also essentially blind. He is more accurate than anyone else in Olympic history despite the fact that all he sees when he looks at the target is an insignificant distant blur. His success is a testament to the power of muscle memory and dedication.
Argentina Takes Down the US in Basketball
Argentina - Gold Medal in Basketball, 2004Argentina was an underdog coming into the 2004 Olympics, but that's not what makes this upset so surprising. The United States is king in the basketball world. In this Olympics they were coming off three straight gold medals and the Dream Team era - no one even considered the notion that they could lose. Luckily for Argentina, they had Manu Ginóbili on their side and he led them to one of the biggest upsets in Olympic basketball.
The Speed Skater Who Just Let Everyone Else Crash
Steven Bradbury - Gold Medal in Speed Skating, 2002Bradbury wasn't expected to even reach the finals in the 2002 Olympics, but he did thanks to two other skaters crashing. Then, in the finals, he was far off the lead on the final turn when the entire field crashed and he casually crossed the finish line. He won Australia its first gold at the Winter Games and went down as one of the luckiest Olympians ever to win.