When you’re an athlete, an injury is almost inevitable. Some injuries, of course, are minor and recoverable, while others might end an athlete’s career, or even worse, lead to death. Once you’ve reached the Olympics, the severity of injury seems to only increase. To snag the gold medal, many Olympians must take risks others wouldn’t dare take. Thankfully, many have come out unscathed and even succeeded. Still, others were not so lucky. Curious to see who endured the worst injuries? Here are 25 Epic Olympic Injuries You Won’t Believe Actually Happened.
Lazaro Borges's pole snaps while in mid-vault
Cuban athlete Lazaro Borges had the worst luck during the pole vaulting competition. Launching himself 17 feet (5 meters) in the air, his pole snapped like a twig. The audience gasped as he went tumbling to the ground. Fortunately, he hit the mat and remained unharmed. The only thing he injured was his pride.
Nibali crash during road race
Cycling during the Olympics can be much more dangerous than you think. Italian cyclist Vincenzo Nibali tried to get ahead by the end of the race but eventually lost control on an insanely fast descent. His crashed, broke both his collarbones and, of course, didn’t finish the race.
Samir Ait gymnastic accident
If you want to put your kids in gymnastics, maybe keep Samir Ait in mind. At the Rio Olympics, his leg snapped on the vault landing. The crowd gasped at the sound of his leg cracking, and emergency personnel attended to him immediately. As he lay there, you could see his foot and shin dangling in the opposite direction of the rest of his leg.
Annemiek van Vleuten's bike crash
Again, cycling is a dangerous business. In this case, at the Rio Olympic games, Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten took a sharp turn and fell off her bike, extensively injuring her face. She also had a concussion and three fractures to her spine. Her mother thought she might be dead, but fortunately, the 33-year-old made it out alive.
Ellie Downie neck injury during floor routine
At age 17, Ellie Downie had already seen a row of success in gymnastics. At the Rio Olympics, she planned on continuing that until disaster struck. After completing the balance beam, she went on to the floor and performed a flip. She didn’t have enough control and landed on her head and neck. Wanting to finish, she picked herself back up but eventually walked off with medical assistance. Miraculously, she returned to complete two more competitions strongly.
Photo 25. anonymous, Pole Vault Sequence 3, CC BY-SA 3.0, 24. K.J.Schilstra, Annemiek-van-vleuten-1315867586 cropped, CC BY-SA 3.0, 23. Photo via Twitter (Fair Use: No Free Images Available), 22. McSmit, Vincenzo Nibali (Tour de France 2009 – Stage 17), CC BY-SA 3.0, 21. Pierre-Yves Beaudouin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0, 2015 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships – Vault – Elissa Downie 03, CC BY-SA 4.0, 20. Photo via Twitter (Fair Use: No Free Images Available), 19. Gianluca Platania, gianluca at Flickr, from Torino (Turin), Italy, Nancy Kerrigan, CC BY-SA 2.0, 18. Photo via Twitter (Fair Use: No Free Images Available), 17. Photo via Twitter (Fair Use: No Free Images Available), 16. Parliament Speakers Limited, Derek Redmond, CC BY-SA 3.0, 15. Eckhard Pecher (Arcimboldo), Osaka07 D5M Xiang Liu, CC BY 2.5, 14. David W. Carmichael, Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao at 2010 Olympics, CC BY-SA 3.0, 13. Photo via Twitter (Fair Use: No Free Images Available), 12. Piet.Wijker, Manteo Mitchell, CC BY-SA 3.0, 11. joshuak8, Anthony Tolliver defending Paul George, CC BY-SA 2.0, 10. Photo via Twitter (Fair Use: No Free Images Available), 9. Photo via Twitter (Fair Use: No Free Images Available), 8. Photo via Twitter (Fair Use: No Free Images Available), 7. Alan Light, Greg Louganis (4226269508), CC BY 2.0, 6. Photo via Twitter (Fair Use: No Free Images Available), 5. Pierre-Yves Beaudouin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0, 2015 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships – Uneven bars – Loan His 07, CC BY-SA 4.0, 4. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 3. Photo via Twitter (Fair Use: No Free Images Available), 2. Massimo Finizio, WaterPolo, CC BY-SA 2.0 IT, 1. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain)