Top 10 Times Injured Olympic Athletes Actually Won

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Top 10 Times Injured Olympic Athletes Actually Won

VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: David Foster
These injured athletes proved everyone wrong. For this list, we'll be looking at those amazing moments in Olympic history where a competitor has dug deep and found themselves carried on to victory. Our countdown includes Andreas Toba, Kerri Strug, Greg Louganis, and more!
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Top 10 Times Injured Olympic Athletes Actually Won


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 times injured Olympic Athletes actually won.

For this list, we’ll be looking at those amazing moments in Olympic history where a competitor has dug deep and found themselves carried on to victory. Now, we’re taking a little liberty with the term won–as a couple of our entrants didn’t necessarily gain a medal in their outcome but certainly would hold the place of “won against the injury” itself. And let’s face it, few, if any of us, could’ve done what they did!

Are our picks winners, or DQs? Sound off in the comments.

#10: Katie Glynn

2012 Summer Olympics
2012’s New Zealand's Women’s Hockey Team was a far cry from the one that finished in last place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The team was overhauled in 2009 with Katie Glynn as the first pick of a new Women’s team. Having made it to the semi-finals, New Zealand faced off against the Netherlands in a battle that saw Glynn being struck by a wayward stick and needing treatment for a serious head wound. Five staples and two sutures later, Glynn returned to the pitch and completed the game–which was won by the Netherlands in a penalty shoot-out. Whilst the Bronze would be claimed in the following game by home team Great Britain, many look at this moment of Glynn's performance as that of a champion's.

#9: Andreas Toba

2016 Summer Olympics
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament is one of the main ligaments when it comes to bending the knee. Should you tear this particular fibrous connective tissue, then you can forget about running or jumping, and even walking will become excruciatingly difficult. But despite German gymnast Andreas Toba doing just this in his left knee during his floor routine for Rio 2016's games, somehow the German team were able to place for the Gymnastic event–after he went back on to complete his pommel horse routine. A torn ACL has been known to end athletes’ careers, yet Toba was somehow able to complete an intricate display with one.


#8: Manteo Mitchell

2012 Summer Olympics
Sometimes, an event's hero is not the one that you see on the podium, and few may encapsulate that idea more than sprinter Manteo Mitchell. Halfway through his part of the 4x400m relay heats for the 2012 London games, the American felt his left leg click and a bad pain course through his body... (no pun intended). However, without an ounce of quit in him, Mitchell dug deep and found the drive to complete his part–and ensured the U.S had a qualifying time for an event that they would go on to make it to the podium. That nasty click he heard? A broken left fibula bone... and most of us can't even walk with a fractured toe let alone an entire leg…


#7: Derek Redmond

1992 Summer Olympics
For many, Barcelona '92 is largely forgotten, but for one moment. Within the Men's 400m Final, viewers around the world were united behind more than a team, but also one injured athlete. Just over halfway through the 400 meters semi-final event, the British favorite fell to his knee from what was later confirmed as a career-ending torn hamstring--the muscle that runs all the way down the back of the leg. But the image of Derek Redmond hoisting himself up, limping on and then carried over the finish line by his own father to a standing ovation– because Derek had to finish his race–has become nothing short of historic.

#6: Kerri Strug

1996 Summer Olympics
Torn ligaments are painful injuries to deal with at the easiest of times. But for Olympic Gymnast Kerri Strug, it had to be ignored. When her U.S. teammate left the vault having just missed the 9.4 needed to win the Gold, it was down to Strug’s remaining two attempts to secure the top medal. When she limped back after falling during her first attempt, something had clearly gone very wrong. Strug knew that she had to land her second attempt as she made her way to the starting position. Her second landing involved the slightest of touchdown on both feet, and then a hop to the uninjured one to stay upright. Her efforts carried the team to gold at Atlanta 1996.

#5: Kate Richardson-Walsh

2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic field hockey captain Kate Richardson-Walsh could have certainly cursed her luck during London 2012 qualifiers on home turf when a wayward Japanese team member’s hockey stick caught her right on the cheek and fractured her jaw. But, the Brit is made of tougher stuff, it seems. Though she was taken off the pitch, she was back on–after only missing a few games for surgery–and then subsequently helped her team to secure Bronze. While she had to have metal inserted into her jaw as a result of the injury, she would probably argue it was a small price to pay for victory.

#4: Greg Louganis

1988 Summer Olympics
It’s arguable that this wouldn’t have been allowed during events played in modern times, but during the Seoul 1988 games Greg Louganis managed to win a Gold Medal despite having a concussion. This wasn't an underlying condition that the diver had when climbing upon the board either. It had occurred about a half hour before his perfect dive won him through the preliminaries when an imperfect dive put his crown on a collision course with the plank. Leaving the pool area for 35 minutes gave doctors a chance to stitch him up and confirm a concussion diagnosis, after which Louganis mustered the strength to win and dived down to new depths.

#3: Shun Fujimoto

1976 Summer Olympics
If you look up the definition of fortitude in the dictionary, it should be accompanied by a photo of Shun Fujimoto. The retired Japanese gymnast, who was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2017, famously competed in the Montreal 1976 games, and led his country's gymnastics team to Gold. His own contributions included a 9.5 and a 9.7 on the pommel horse and still rings respectively... oh, and did we mention this was with a broken knee...? Having already injured his right leg on the floor event, his perseverance to continue ended in a dislocation of the patella, but a slim margin ahead of silver medallists in the Soviet Union.


#2: Petra Majdič

2010 Winter Olympics
It isn't certain which person came up with the idea that Chuck Norris can do everything, but Slovenian Petra Majdic would give him a run for his money. Indeed, after the Vancouver 2010 games, the phrase "When Chuck Norris can't go on, Petra Majdič perseveres!" was coined as a testament to the cross-country skier’s iron will. After falling 10ft onto rocks, sustaining a pneumothorax during the warm-ups and breaking five ribs (which X-rays failed to show,) Majdič returned to the track and made it to the semi-finals. That feat would be incredible enough, but during the event, a broken rib pierced a lung – causing severe injury. But the story wasn't over for Majdic, who carried on and secured herself a bronze medal in the event!


#1: Kurt Angle

1996 Summer Olympics
Former WWE Champion Kurt Angle's Olympic career was often spoken about during his professional wrestling career. As sport entertainment requires its personalities to embellish the truth somewhat to fit the narrative, you could be forgiven for thinking this was scripted. However, it's true–it's damn true. In fact, not only is he a bona-fide Olympic gold medallist, but he did actually win the Men's Freestyle 100 kilograms with–as he calls it–a broken freakin' neck. During the trials, Angle fractured two of his cervical vertebrae, herniated two more and severely pulled his neck muscles–an injury that could’ve paralysed him. The "Wrestling Machine" powered through the whole event, securing Gold for the U.S. team.
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