Top 10 Olympic Disasters


The Olympics; the pinnacle of many athlete's careers. But it doesn't always go to plan for some.

In fact it goes very, very much not to plan. As these 10 examples show.

10. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

Suriname had never had a representative at the Olympic games before Rome in 1960, but 800m runner Wym Essajas looked to end that when he was down to take part.

Sadly, the dozy Essajas was having a nap just as the gun went off for the event. He'd been told the wrong time and blissfully slept through it. Suriname would have to wait a further eight years before they could boast of an Olympic participant. 

9. Feed Me

Everyone allows themselves a bit of an eating binge now and then. And for boxer Thomas Hamilton-Brown after crashing out of the 1936 Berline Olympics, he indulged a little thinking his summer was over.

But wait! It was discovered he should have beaten Chilean Carlos Lillo and he was reinstated - 5 lbs over the lightweight limit. Oops.

8. Boxing Stupid

Roy Jones Jr was a shoe-in for gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The American breezed through to the final and continued his form against home favourite Park Si-Hun, landing 86 punches to Park's 32.

But the judges award the fight to Park in a brash display of favouritism, and the South Korean was so embarrassed by the win he apologiesed to Jones. All the judges were suspended and an investigation found they had been winded and dined by South Korean officials. 

7. Wax On Wax Off

Portugal's first involvement at the Olympics was not one to remember. Marathon runner Francisco Lazaro sadly died through severe dehydration. And also probably some very bad advice.

He poured beeswax over large parts of his body to prevent sunburn, but it also prevented him sweating, which resulted in his passing.

6. Trigger Happy

Say what you like about the Ukrainians, they love a bit of technology. So much so that pentathlete Boris Onischenko went one further during the 1976 games in Montreal. 

During a fencing clash with Britain's Jim Fox, Boris' epee was continuing to score points despite clearly missing his opponent. It was discovered he had fitted a trigger to the instrument to allow him to score points at will. Sneaky. 

He was disqualified, obviously.

5. Hitchin' A Ride

You know when your car breaks down and you have to jog the rest of your journey? Marathon runner Fred Lorz does. 

When collecting his medal for gold at the St Louis Olympics, news emerged he had in fact driven 11 miles of the race after collapsing with exhaustion after just nine miles.

He ran the final six after his car broke down and would have got away with it, if it wasn't for those pesky IOC officials.

4. Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting

"Hell hath no fury like a taekwondo expert scorned", or something. Basically don't make 'em mad. As referee Chakir Chelbat found out when Cuban Angel Matos was disqualified at the 2008 Beijing games for failing to return to the ring in time after an injury.

The result? Matos round-house kicked Chelbat to the head and was banned for life. Oops.

3. Channel Hopping Mad

Another case of missing the start of a race here as American sprinters Rey Robinson and Eddie Hart were also given the wrong start time for their second qualifying heat by coach Stan Wright, at the 1972 Moscow Olympics.

But unlike Essajas, who had the blissful ignorance of sleeping through, Robinson and Hart watched the whole ordeal unfold on TV right infront of their eyes. 

2. Eel Never Live This Down

When Olympians are good they are very, very good but when they are bad they are...well, terrible. Equatorial Guinea's Eric Moussambani took it to new lows during the 2000 Sydney Games, where there were wildcard places on offer for athletes who had failed to meet the minimum qualification requirements.

When the two competitors in his heat were disqualified, Moussambani was required to swim on his own and the rest is comedy history. He had only started swimming eight months previously and had never swum in an Olympic-sized 50m pool. His time of 1:52:72 broke the Equatoguinean record for the 100m but was outside the Olympic time for the 200m

His thrashing style that resembled a drowining cat won the peoples' hearts however, and he was dubbed 'Eric the Eel'. A real life eel probably would have got a quicker time.

1. Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

Stella Walsh, originally known as Stanlislawa Walasiewiczowna, was a very sucessful runner. She won gold at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics in the 100m.

But four year later when she took just silver in Berlin, she accused winner Helen Stephens of being "too fast to be a woman". This in the days when sexism was legal, of course. Stephens was "inspected" and confirmed a real lady. But the drama didn't end there.

It took another 44 years for the story to unfold but in 1980 at the age of 69, Walsh was shot as a bystander during an armed robbery. The autopsy revealed that Stella herself was in fact a man (although some sources claim she had both male and female bits).