Published On: Jul 18 2012 02:24:09 PM CDTUpdated On: Feb 12 2014 01:00:00 AM CST
These athletes amazed and inspired us with some of the most courageous and unbelievable comebacks in Olympic history.
Paul Hamm (2004) -- After a fall on the vault, Hamm fell to 12th place in the men's gymnastics all-around competition but came back with two flawless performances to win gold by the closest margin in Olympic history -- 0.12 points.
Lasse Viren (1972) -- The Finnish runner fell midway through the 10K in Munich, but made up most of the distance he lost in less than half a lap and set a new world record in a stunning gold medal performance.
1980 U.S. Hockey Team -- The U.S. men's hockey team was trailing the mighty Soviet Union 3-2 heading into the third period, but took the lead and held on for the remaining 10 minutes in one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history.
U.S. Men's 4x100 Relay (2008) -- Half a body length behind Frenchman Alain Bernard with 50 meters to go on the last leg of the 4x100 relay, Jason Lezak pulled off one of the most amazing and improbable finishes in Olympic history by pulling ahead and leading the U.S. men to gold in Beijing.
Dave Wottle (1972) -- Another incredible Munich performance, this unranked American spent the entire 800m final at the back of the pack before he dug down and ran an inspirational finish to gold.
Rulon Gardner (2000) -- The Wyoming native did the unthinkable in beating the previously undefeated Russian Aleksandr Karelin to win the Greco-Roman wrestling gold medal in Sydney.
Kerri Strug (1996) -- Strug became a national sports hero after vaulting on an injured ankle to help the American women's gymnastics team win its first ever All-Around gold medal in Atlanta.
Dan Jansen (1992) -- The American speedskater came back to win gold in his final race in 1992 after two catastrophic falls upon learning his sister had died during the 1988 games.
Oksana Baiul (1994) -- The Ukrainian teen stole the spotlight from Nancy Kerrigan and won figure skating gold despite a collision before the free skate that required stitches to her leg and nearly prevented her from competing.
Apolo Anton Ohno (2002) -- Favored to win multiple golds, Ohno was knocked out of the 1,000m in a collision but came back to win gold in the 1,500m over South Korean favorite Kim Dong-Sung.
U.S. Women's Softball Team (2000) -- After losing to Australia, China and Japan, the United States comes back to win five straight games, including wins over the three teams they lost to earlier, to capture their second gold medal.
Laura Wilkinson (2000) -- Still in pain from a foot injury that sidelined her for several months, Wilkinson came back from eighth place to capture the first gold for a female American platform diver since 1964.
Tenley Albright (1956) -- Injured when her skate blade sliced open her right foot weeks before the Cortina Games, Albright's father stitched her back together and she healed in time to claim the first individual gold in figure skating for an American woman.
Billy Mills (1964) -- After being shoved in the backstretch and falling behind the other two athletes, the unknown American unleashed a furious finish en route to one of the great upsets in Olympic history, winning the 10,000m over heavily favored Australian Ron Clarke.
Carl Lewis (1996) -- The 35-year-old Lewis barely qualified for the Atlanta team, but became just one of three Olympians to win the same event four times on his third and final long jump.
Sarah Hughes (2002) -- The 17-year-old American landed seven triple jumps, including two triple-triple combinations, to come from fourth place and win the ladies figure skating gold medal in Salt Lake City.