10 Most Inspirational Sports Stories in History

What are the best inspirational sports stories that you should know?  What could be more inspiring than the story of someone overcoming obstacles and adversity to achieve their goals? Many athletes win competitions and medals every year, but only a few have left their mark on history with their extraordinary victories.  

In this article, we will talk about the most inspirational sports stories throughout history.

10 Most Inspirational Sports Stories In History

The 10 Most Inspirational Sports Stories 

1. Betty Robinson, United States

The fact that she was the first and youngest Olympic champion in the 100 meters is a detail of Betty Robinson's incredible journey. The American runner, who won a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928, was on a plane that crashed in 1931. While transporting her body to the mortuary, doctors discovered that she was still alive.

Betty Robinson was in a coma for about seven months with a broken leg, concussion, and an injured arm. She then woke up and began training for the Berlin Games in 1936. Unable to compete in the 100 meters, she still ran the 4x100 meters and helped the United States to claim the gold medal.

2. Wilma Rudolph, United States

Wilma Rudolph wins the women's 100 meters at the 1960 Summer

Wilma Rudolph was born prematurely into a poor family and had polio in her fourth year. She had to wear a brace on her left leg until she was nine years old, then wear orthopedic shoes for the next two years. But at the age of twelve, Wilma Rudolph began to draw attention to her athletic skills. 

Against all odds, she competed in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and won a bronze medal in the 4x100m relay. But at the 1960 Rome Games, she made history by winning three gold medals in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relays. The incredible victory of her mind over her body has inspired generations of athletes.

3. Derek Redmond, Great Britain

Sometimes it's not just about winning, and Derek Redmond's story proves it. Already a recipient of gold medals in the 4x400-meter relays at the World Championships (1991), European Championships (1986), and Commonwealth Games (1986), Derek Redmond was offered one last chance at a medal at the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992, after an injury made him miss the Seoul Games in 1988. In the competition for the 400 meters, the Briton started well by winning the quarter-finals. 

Unfortunately, in the middle of the semi-final, he injured his hamstrings and couldn't run. But because he had made a promise to his father, Derek Redmond, despite his pain and desolation, continued limping to finish his race. His father, Jim, rushed over to help him and they reached the finish line together, rewarded with a standing ovation from the entire audience, visibly moved.

4. Jamaica National Bobsleigh Team

Jamaica is famous for its track and field champions, but do they ski? Not right. But the Jamaican bobsleigh team that qualified for the Calgary Winter Games in 1988 proved otherwise. Although they came from a country with a tropical climate, the athletes participated in the games thanks to other teams who were kind enough to lend their skates. Their efforts were praised by the whole world and paved the way for all the athletes who were underrated afterward. It is their inspiring story told by Rasta Rockett (1993).

5. American Men's Hockey Team

American Men's Hockey Team inspirational sports stories

Nobody believed in the United States hockey team when they participated in the Lake Placid Games in 1980. Everyone thought they would watch the Soviet team win easily in the Olympic Games. But Team USA, made up mostly of college hockey players, continued to raise the bar throughout the competition, beating the Soviet Union 4-3 in the final and winning the gold medal.

6. Jesse Owens, United States

Jesse Owens - Berlin Olympics in 1936

No one ignores the incredible story of Jesse Owens, who, despite Hitler's oppression, won everything at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. The young athlete, representing both the United States and all African-American sportsmen, won four gold medals (in the long jump, 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay), trampling Hitler's hopes of victory and placing his own country far above Germany.

7. Jim Thorpe, United States

Jim Thorpe athlete inspirational sports stories

Jim Thorpe had to fight pain and adversity to achieve success. The famous athlete and baseball player had a very difficult childhood, losing his brother and his parents. After a rough childhood, Jim Thorpe discovered his passion: athletics. In a year, two new events were introduced at the 1912 Games (decathlon and pentathlon), and Jim Thorpe was ready. It was by winning gold medals in every race that he began his exemplary career.

8. Alice Coachman, United States

Alice Coachman at the London Olympics in 1948.

It's one of the most inspirational sports stories of the mid-'90s. Pushing boundaries is the greatest achievement in any sport. The life of Alice Coachman is the perfect example of how anyone can achieve their goals, no matter what. As an African American woman, she never had the chance to develop her athletic talents because of the social stigmas associated with women and African Americans in sports. 

Even his parents stood up in his way. Still, that didn't stop him from chasing his dreams and winning several national awards. Alice Coachman became the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in the high jump at the London Olympics in 1948.

9. √Čric Moussambani, Equatorial Guinea

Nicknamed "Eric Eel" by the media, the swimmer from Equatorial Guinea qualified for the Sydney Games in 2000 thanks to a draw organized to promote developing countries. Through a strange succession of events, Eric Moussambani competed on his own due to false starts disqualifying the other two participants. 

As he had never swum in an Olympic pool before, he finished the race in 52.72 seconds, the slowest time ever at the Olympics. Instead of embarrassing silence, the audience encouraged him on until the end. Eric Moussambani has finally become a great hero for his country and the coach of the national swimming team.

10. Michael Edwards, Great Britain

You don't always have to be super talented to inspire people. Michael Edwards is proof of that. After being rejected by the British ski team at the 1984 Games, he turned to the United States in hopes of training. However, since there was no better option, he was asked to represent Great Britain at the 1988 Games.

His underwhelming performances and reckless demeanor made negative feedback, and some left him behind. Michael Edwards' name entered history when the International Olympic Committee implemented the “Eddie the Eagle” rule imposing performance restrictions on athletes.

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