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.
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.
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.
Kipchoge Keino Had to Run to His Own Event - And Won with Galstones
Kipchoge Keino - Gold Medal in the 1,500 Meter, 1968Not only was Kipchoge Keino diagnosed with gallstones before his race, but he was also stranded when his bus got stuck in traffic on the way to the stadium. He ran the last mile to the stadium where he then participated in his third race of the Olympics, the 1,500 meter. He arrived only minutes before the race started, still suffering from gallstones, and somehow won the race by a record setting margin.
Billy Mills Sprinted for 100 Meters and Made History
Billy Mills - Gold Medal in the 10,000 Meter, 1964Mills was an unknown heading into the 1964 Olympics. Towards the end of the 10,000 meter race, he surprised people by hanging out in an impressive third place, leaving the two front runners to duke it out for gold. Then, with 100 meters left, something came over Mills. He sprinted like his life depended on it, passing by his opponents with no room to spare and taking home the gold medal.