8 of the Best Underdog Stories in Olympic History


When it comes to the Olympics, we all tend to gravitate toward watching the events that our country usually does the best in. It’s exciting to watch your country’s athletes win medals, as you sit on the edge of your seat wondering if the reigning champion can do it again.

However, one of the best things about the Olympics is that it’s really anyone’s game. There’s always the possibility that someone we’ve never seen before might do it better.

These underdogs throughout the history of the Olympics did just that, proving that experience doesn’t always win out in the end.

1. Steven Bradbury, Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, 2002
Australia’s first winter Olympic medal was in men’s 1,000 meter speed-skating at the Salt Lake City Olympics. Steven Bradbury crossed the finish line ahead of the famous American skater, Apolo Ohno, and defending world champion, Canadian Mathieu Turcotte.

Bradbury’s strategy throughout the qualifying rounds was to simply hang out at the back of the pack while the other younger competitors fought things out at the front. This continued to work for him in the finals.

Those fighting in the front all caused each other to crash right before the finish line, allowing Bradbury to skate gracefully across and win the gold medal.

  • Janice Little

    Thought Oksana Baiul would be on this list as one of the biggest Olympic underdogs. She competed without a real coach, lack of medical care, no sports shrink, without several pairs of skates or decent ice to train on — all the things other skaters took for granted. She competed without the help of trainers working only with her choreographer Galina. Oksana Baiul managed to win both the world and Olympic gold medal in ladies figure skating. . Hers IS still one of the great Olympic underdog stories in sports.