Injuries during Olympic competitions are commonplace enough that they don’t usually warrant much focus, but this year’s games are far from ordinary. Beyond the glitz and pomp of the podium, there are many athletes dealing with pain and loss.
Rio's 2016 Olympic games have just begun, and already three devastating injuries have been caught on camera, a dispassionate and impartial broadcaster of the exact moment that an athlete’s dream is crushed.
Sunday saw not just one, but two of the most spectacular injuries in recent Olympic history. Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten was leading the ranks, 40 seconds ahead of her nearest competition. With 15km to the finish line, the cyclist failed to navigate a downhill right-turn, flew over her handlebars after hitting a curb and landed on her head; the whole ordeal caught in breathtaking high definition.
Although van Vleuten suffered a concussion and fractured spine, the cyclist is said to be "in stable condition at the intensive care of a Rio de Janeiro hospital,” according to a statement issued by the sport's governing body (UCI). This same stretch of road claimed another victim just a day earlier when Vincenzo Nibali, also leading the men’s race, crashed and broke both his collar bones.
The most grotesque injury thus far would be that of French gymnast Samir Ait Said. During the men’s vault qualifying competition on Saturday, Said’s left leg snapped on landing. With only skin and tissue holding together his lower leg from mid-way through his shin, the dangling appendage was carefully bandaged as he was placed on a stretcher.
Tragically enough, as the medics tried to push the gurney into an ambulance, they seemingly lost control, and dropped the injured Olympian to the ground.
Mais noooooooooon.... pic.twitter.com/rO7kahG690
— David Arrieta (@arrietadavid1) August 6, 2016
French team leader Corrine Moustard-Callon didn't have many details on Said's injury, but lamented the terrible way his Olympics ended after years of hard work. "He made a technical mistake," Moustard-Callon said. "He is in the hospital with a doctor now. We will give more news when we have it. We don't know what happened, except that it was his tibia. We will do more exams to see if it is just the bone."
An injured Said later posted a video to Facebook from his hospital bed, seemingly in good spirits. He addressed fans in French, letting them know this injury was not the end of his Olympic dreams. “Believe me, the Tokyo 2020 adventure is still alive.”