5 Saddest moments in Olympic history

The Olympic Games are a celebration of human excellence, where athletes from around the world compete for glory and honor. But sometimes, the Olympics can also be a source of heartbreak, disappointment, and tragedy. Here are five of the saddest moments in Olympic history that will make you cry.

1. Derek Redmond’s father helps him finish the race

In the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, British sprinter Derek Redmond was one of the favorites to win the 400-meter race. He had a strong start, but halfway through the race, he felt a sharp pain in his leg. He had torn his hamstring and collapsed on the track. But instead of giving up, he got up and limped towards the finish line, determined to complete the race. His father, who was watching from the stands, ran onto the track and helped his son cross the line, as the crowd gave them a standing ovation. It was a touching display of courage and love that moved millions of people around the world.

Redmond’s father later said that he was not there to help him win, but to help him finish what he started. He said that he was proud of his son for not quitting and showing his true character. Redmond’s injury ended his career as a sprinter, but he went on to play basketball and rugby, and became a motivational speaker. He said that his father’s support was the most important thing that happened to him in his life.

2. Kerri Strug’s heroic vault

The 1996 Atlanta Olympics were a historic moment for the US women’s gymnastics team, who won their first ever team gold medal. But it came at a high cost for one of their members, Kerri Strug. In the final event, the vault, Strug had to land a perfect score to secure the victory for her team. She fell on her first attempt and injured her ankle. Despite the pain, she decided to go for a second attempt, knowing that her team needed her. She landed on one foot, saluted the judges, and then collapsed in agony. Her score was enough to clinch the gold medal for the US team, and she was carried to the podium by her coach Bela Karolyi. She became an icon of bravery and sacrifice for her country.

Strug’s vault is considered one of the most memorable moments in Olympic history, and it inspired many young girls to pursue gymnastics. Strug later said that she did not realize how badly she was hurt until after she landed, and that she was glad that she did not let her team down. She had to undergo surgery and missed the individual events, but she received a special visit from President Bill Clinton at the hospital. She retired from gymnastics after the Olympics and pursued a career in education and public service.

3. Mary Decker’s fall

Mary Decker was one of the best middle-distance runners in the world in the 1980s. She had missed two previous Olympics due to injuries and boycotts, so she was eager to prove herself in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. She was competing in the 3000-meter race against Zola Budd, a young South African runner who ran barefoot. The two were leading the pack when they collided and Decker fell to the ground, twisting her ankle. She was unable to continue and watched in tears as Budd finished seventh. Decker blamed Budd for the incident and refused to accept her apology. It was a devastating end to Decker’s Olympic dream.

Decker’s fall was one of the most controversial moments in Olympic history, and it sparked a media frenzy over who was at fault. The officials initially disqualified Budd for causing the collision, but later reinstated her after reviewing the video evidence. They ruled that it was an accidental incident with no malicious intent from either runner. Decker never won an Olympic medal in her career, and she struggled with depression and drug abuse after her fall. Budd also faced criticism and harassment from anti-apartheid activists for competing under a British passport while representing South Africa during apartheid. She retired from running in 1996 and became a farmer and journalist in South Africa.

4. Liu Xiang’s repeat crash

Liu Xiang was China’s first male Olympic champion in track and field, winning the gold medal in the 110-meter hurdles in 2004 Athens Olympics. He was a national hero and a huge favorite to defend his title in his home country in 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, he suffered from an Achilles tendon injury that hampered his performance. In his first round heat, he stumbled at the first hurdle and withdrew from the race, leaving behind a stunned and disappointed crowd. Four years later, in 2012 London Olympics, he tried to make a comeback, but history repeated itself. He crashed into the first hurdle again and fell to the ground. This time, he got up and hopped along the track, kissing the last hurdle before leaving the stadium. It was a heartbreaking farewell to one of China’s greatest athletes.

Liu Xiang’s repeat crash was a huge blow to China’s Olympic hopes, and it triggered an outpouring of sympathy and support from his fans and fellow athletes. Liu Xiang later said that he was sorry for letting his country down, and that he tried his best to overcome his injury. He said that he wanted to finish the race as a gesture of respect and gratitude to the Olympic spirit. He announced his retirement from athletics in 2015, and said that he was proud of his achievements and grateful for his opportunities. He became a sports ambassador and a mentor for young athletes in China.

5. Munich massacre

The 1972 Munich Olympics were supposed to be a peaceful and joyful event, but they turned into a nightmare when a group of Palestinian terrorists attacked the Israeli delegation at their quarters. They killed two Israelis and took nine others hostage, demanding the release of their comrades imprisoned in Israel and Germany. After a failed rescue attempt by German authorities at an airport, all nine hostages were killed by their captors, along with five terrorists and one German policeman. The tragedy shocked and saddened the world, and cast a dark shadow over the Olympic spirit.

The Munich massacre was one of the worst terrorist attacks in history, and it had a lasting impact on the Olympic movement and international relations. The IOC president Avery Brundage decided to continue the Games after a day of mourning, saying that “the Games must go on”. Many criticized this decision as insensitive and disrespectful to the victims and their families. The Israeli government launched a covert operation to hunt down and kill the surviving terrorists and their leaders, sparking a cycle of violence and retaliation. The IOC also faced criticism for not holding a proper memorial service for the victims until 2016, when they finally honored them with a minute of silence at the Rio Olympics.


These are some of the saddest moments in Olympic history that show us that sports are not just about winning or losing, but also about courage, compassion, and resilience. They remind us that behind every athlete, there is a human being with hopes, dreams, and emotions. They also challenge us to uphold the values of peace, friendship, and solidarity that the Olympics stand for.

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