The 5 Most Insane Ways Underdogs Won Olympic Medals

#2. Emil Zatopek Wins a Marathon Despite Not Knowing How Marathons Work

First of all, this is Emil Zatopek:

The Hindu
Who apparently lacks sweat glands.

This entry isn't about his facial expressions -- we just wanted to point that out. In the 1930s, the Czechoslovakian started his athletic career when the shoe company he was working for forced him to run races. He had an unorthodox running style, because it wasn't like he had any real training.

EPA via The Guardian
He intimidated other runners by always looking like he was about to die.

Zatopek competed in a few events here and there, including leading the Czechoslovakian team to victory in a few shorter distance races, and winning the bronze for the 10 kilometer race in the 1948 Olympics. But in 1952, for the Helsinki games, he decided to run the marathon as well -- something he had never run, or even trained for. He wasn't even totally sure of the rules.
"Like ... we just run, right?"

Against all odds, he kept up with the leading runner, Jim Peters, purely because he wanted to ask him if the current pace was too fast. (Peters sarcastically told him it was "too slow," which turned out to be true considering what happened next.)

When Zatopek came across the refreshment stations handing out water and fruit slices to the runners, he didn't take anything ... because he was afraid they'd charge him for it. So he went the whole 26.2 miles not even getting a sip of water simply because he had no idea marathon runners needed to drink tons of water to stay running. Or at least they did until Zatopek came along.
"Why don't you just store it in your hump?"

Despite being dehydrated and no doubt worrying about getting stuck with a hefty refreshments bill due to a lemon he briefly touched at the 12-mile mark, he won the marathon, shattering the record in the process. It was hardly a freak occurrence -- Zatopek would go down as one of the greats (including finishing sixth in the 1956 games despite running with a freaking hernia against doctors' orders). Proving once again that crazy beats experience every time.

#1. Im Dong-Hyun Dominates Archery, Can't See the Target

AP via Yahoo Sports

South Korean Im Dong Hyun set the world record in archery during the 2012 London Olympics by scoring a 699 out of a possible 720. Not a big deal, considering that the record he broke was his own. Or maybe it is a big deal, considering he's blind.

OK, not blind blind -- he has 20/200 vision, which means that he needs to be 10 times closer to an object to see it the way you do, and that the target he's aiming at would be nothing more than a tiny orange blur (and no, he doesn't wear corrective lenses). But that hasn't stopped Im from becoming the LeBron James of archery.

Reuters/Ruben Sprich/Files (China)
But with much cooler eyewear.

So how in the possible hell is this man able to put an arrow into a grapefruit-sized target from nearly a football field away? He relies solely on muscle memory. After all, the target placement and distance for a particular event never change, so it's less about seeing and more about holding your arms in the exact perfect position, down to the millimeter (at that point, seeing the target actually just distracts you from getting your motion just right). Kind of like how there are people on YouTube who can beat Mario Bros. with their eyes closed. So it's all pretty simple, really. That is, as long as you're a superhuman arrow-slinging cyborg (Im can't even participate in other sports, because it could mess up the machine-precision muscle memory in his arms).

It also helps that South Korea does not fuck around when it comes to archery -- when they were preparing for the London games they actually built a replica of the Lord's Cricket Ground to practice, so it would look exactly the same. To add to the realism, they practiced in front of a full stadium, and announced archers' names in English to mimic the experience of being in London.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Stephen Fry was flown in at enormous expense.

Hell, it's almost like they intentionally picked a blind archer just to prove a point.

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Related Reading: Hey, did you know there are no gay people in Sochi? That's what the mayor claims. There's a lot of ugliness the Olympics try to hide, like the nonstop orgy going on in the village. Still, at least these Olympics give us a chance to beat the bad guys.

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