Wednesday evening, while performing in the 77kg “clean and jerk” competition in the Riocentro Pavilion, Armenian weightlifter Andranik Karapetyan experienced a particularly painful injury when he dislocated his elbow while attempting to lift 195kg (429 lbs). After extending his elbow too far, his arm bent the wrong way, causing it to almost fragment under the weight.
Karapetyan, one of the favorites to medal in the event, was left screaming in pain. Trainers and medics ran on to the stage and quickly rushed him to the hospital, while audience members were left cringing and his Armenian trainers held their heads in their hands.
The 20-year old’s injury was certainly made more painful by the fact that his Olympic debut was tainted by such a dissatisfying finish in his event — or, rather, failure to finish — after what had been a very strong performance overall. Karapetyan, who was in second place after completing the snatch portion of the competition, won the gold medal at the 2016 European Weightlifting Championships and earned the bronze medal in the 2015 World Weightlifting Championship.
But Karapetyan’s injury is only one in a string of serious injuries and near-injuries in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
French gymnast Samir Aït Saïd broke his leg during the men’s vault qualification on Saturday.
The 26-year-old suffered a grisly double break when he missed his landing — leaving his lower leg dangling at a right angle.
Earlier in the session, Saïd had earned the third highest score on the still rings– an event he holds four European Championship medals in– and was a favorite to move on to the individual all-around final. Despite exiting the Rio Olympic Arena on a stretcher, Saïd has been cheering on the French team from his hospital bed and pledged to fans that he will return to the sport, hopefully in time for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Other injuries include cyclists Richie Porte of Australia and Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, who were favorites to win and front-runners in the Tour de France. Both crashed during the Olympic road race on Saturday and came out with various injuries, including broken collarbones.
Porte stuck around in Rio to watch Wednesday’s race and told reporters he was “disappointed” to be out of the Games. “I would have liked to be racing… and have finished the road race but if you've seen the crash, I think I came out of it quite lightly," he said. "Obviously, my season is over now. I've got three or four months of not doing much other than focusing on recovery. It's not the way I wanted to end the season."
Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten, who competed in the women’s road race, fractured three vertebrae and suffered a major concussion after a horrific crash.
Other Olympians have had slips and falls but elected to stay in the game.
After falling and injuring his knee during his floor routine, German gymnast Andreas Toba was forced to leave the mat with only 1.366 points. In an incredible feat of strength, however, he pushed through the pain to compete on the pommel horse to earn a respectable 14.233 points.
Great Britain’s Elissa Downie had a terrifying fall on her neck in the course of a tumbling pass during the women’s qualification round of her floor routine. But the 17-year-old doesn’t have a nearly unbroken run of success — including a silver medal in the 2016 European Championship floor routine — for nothing.
After failing to complete the floor routine and leaving the arena in a wheelchair, Downie came back to perform her two vaults as planned, earning 14.683 points for Great Britain, which ended up in fourth place for the team all-around competition at the end of the day and fifth place in the final.
Downie is currently ranked 24th in the women’s individual all-around competition. The final begins today at 3pm ET.
How to Live Stream the 2016 Rio Olympics:
NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app will be live streaming coverage of the Games for pay TV subscribers via TV Everywhere. You can download the NBC Sports app to your Android TV, Apple TV, Xbox or Roku or use the iOS, Android or Windows Phone apps.
You can also live stream Olympic matches from NBC here.