There's something invigorating about watching an underdog rise, especially at the Olympic Games. Finding a way to beat the odds among the greatest athletes on the planet with all the nations' leaders watching is enough to get any audience giddy. "Upsets resonate in the Olympics because the games provide global stages for nations to play out socio-political struggles," says Mark Dyreson, Penn State kinesiology professor and Olympics expert. The biggest shockers at the Olympics frequently include two geopolitical rivals battling to the finish, but just as often they entail an individual rising up to earn a medal. In other cases, a bit of luck is on their side. Here are 10 of the greatest upsets in Olympic history.
Emil Zatopek, Marathon, Helsinki 1952
Imagine deciding to run a marathon on a whim – at the Olympics. That's what the legendary Czech runner did, showing up minutes before the race and then lapping the field, which included presumed favorite Jim Peters. Zatopek's surprising marathon win, combined with victories in the 5,000m and 10,000m, gave him a trifecta that will likely never be matched.
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