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The Worst Olympic Injuries of All Time

Updated September 23, 2021 128.4k views16 items

Every two years the world comes together to witness one of the greatest sports spectacles known to man: The Olympic Games. And while it’s not fun to think about, one of the inevitabilities of a high level competition like this is that someone is going to get hurt. Sports injuries are especially painful to watch because they rarely look like something that the athlete can walk away from. The sad fact of the matter is that most of the people who got hurt in the Olympics were either never able to compete again at the same level, or their bodies were completely wrecked, rendering them little more than a warning post to future Olympians. Hopefully you’re not squeamish, because the following Olympic injuries were all very painful.

Trying to determine who suffered the worst Olympic injuries is kind of like arguing over which bullet wound is the worst. They all hurt, and more than likely they all changed the athlete's life. Some of the athletes that are covered on here managed to survive their bad Olympic injuries and return to compete four years later, but a few of these athletes completely lost their abilities, and a couple of them even died. Continue reading to find out about these terrible injuries in sports, and see just how much these athletes dedicate their bodies to the Olympic Games.

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  • Photo: LondonAnnie / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, South Korean weightlifter Jaehyouk Sa had to drop out of the competition after his elbow snapped while he was trying to lift 357 pounds of weight. China went on to win the gold medal in weightlifting that year. 

  • Janos Baranyai Dislocates His Elbow Weightlifting

    At the 2008 Olympics in Bejing, Hungarian weightlifter Janos Baranyai's right elbow popped out of place while he was trying to place third in the competition. After Baranyai was carried away, the Hungarian Weightlifting Federation Chief Tamas Feher said "He's 24 so at least he has two more Olympics. He's our biggest hope for London 2012." While he did end up recovering and competing after his injury, he never participated in another Olympic event again.

  • Derek Redmond Pops a Hamstring Running the 400 Meter Dash

    Photo: YouTube

    Derek Redmond's hamstring injury might be one of the most touching moments in Olympic history. While running the 400 meter dash at the 1992 Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona, Redmond's hamstring popped with only 175 meters to go. His father, realizing that his son was in trouble made his way to the track where he helped his son finish the race in front of 65,000 people.

  • Photo: dabruins07 / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    One of the most memorable Olympics injuries comes from the young Keri Strug who snapped her left ankle during a tough landing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite the botched landing, Strug would go on to make a second vault that would secure a gold medal for the American gymnastics team.