For any athlete, regardless of their sport, being able to participate in the Olympics (and performing well at the various qualifying events leading up to the big games) is basically one of the biggest things that can happen to them. It’s a pinnacle of achievement, something they spend years and years of their life training for. They walk out with their teammates, other skilled athletes from their nation of origin, and hold their heads high knowing that they are in a privileged group, the best in the world at their sport of choice. People around the world are glued to the media when the Olympics roll around, because everyone is cheering on their favorite athletes and their home country.
However, some athletes might wish that the public wasn’t so closely watching them during the Olympics, because sometimes things just happen. First of all, a lot of athletes compete in outfits that are either relatively small and skimpy (swimmers, beach volleyball players, etc.) or skin tight spandex (speed skaters, lugers, etc.). When they’re dressed like that, sometimes things are bound to happen.
Another big issue with athletes’ wardrobes at the Olympic games involves how utterly focused they are. Athletes are completely fixated on scoring the next goal, on preventing their opponent from getting ahead. Therefore, they’ll sometimes yank a bit too hard on their opponent’s outfit, or not realize that some type of malfunction has happened with their own. Some athletes, even if they are aware that a malfunction has occurred, have spent so long training to get to that point that they just ignore it and continue on with their competition.
Here are 10 Olympic athlete wardrobe malfunctions.
10 Christina Tsoukala
Water polo players have bathing suits that are a bit more full coverage than athletes like beach volleyball players. However, even they aren’t immune to wardrobe malfunctions. Water polo player Christina Tsoukala, who plays for Greece, was battling it out against Gemma Beadsworth in a match of Greece against Australia. She was struggling for the ball above water and, all of a sudden, the 2008 Beijing Olympics officially had a nip slip on their records. Let’s face it – when you’re battling in the water, something like that is bound to happen. In fact, if you look up wardrobe malfunctions that happen in Olympic water polo matches, the sheer amount will astound you.
9 Habtemariam Nebiat
In the 2004 Summer Olympics that took place in Athens, Greece, a certain runner caused quite the stir. Her wardrobe malfunction was one of the most memorable, partly because of the story behind it. Habtemariam Nebiat was a distance runner from Eritrea, racing in the women’s 5,000 meters. In comparison to the many runners with expensive gear and sponsorship cheques, Nebiat came to the games on sheer merit, with no supporters. She had no sports bra with her, and had to borrow a men’s uniform that was obviously far too large. When she ran, the uniform left her upper half constantly exposed, something she tried to remedy by tugging the top to cover up. While Nebiat may have been embarrassed in the moment due to her malfunction, she should have been extremely proud of herself for getting to that stage with so little financial backing.
8 Alex and Maia Shibutani
Apart from perhaps the skin-tight spandex uniforms worn in swimming, speedskating, bobsled and the like, the costumes worn by figure skaters seem the most malfunction prone. Simply put, many of the women’s costumes are extremely delicate, with barely visible straps and incredibly thin mesh making up the majority of uniforms. Pairs skaters Alex and Maia Shibutani, who are also siblings, were performing at the Sochi Olympic Games when they got a bit tangled up – when Alex lifted his sister, her skirt got caught in his jacket. They rebounded admirably, somehow wiggling free – while they didn’t place as well as they’d have hoped, it was certainly a memorable first Olympics for the pair.
7 Kami Craig
The water polo incident heard around the world! In a memorable match between Team USA and Team Spain, an opponent grabbed US athlete Kami Craig’s swimsuit in an attempt to stop her. Unfortunately, the Spanish athlete exposed a bit more of Craig than she would have liked to. This kind of moment happens incredibly frequently in water polo – after all, they’re up to their shoulders in water, grappling, and everything is soaking wet. It’s bound to happen. Unfortunately, since it was an Olympic game, there were cameras absolutely everywhere and the match was being live streamed. The incident is particularly memorable, as it made it onto television screens since it happened so quickly that none of the live feeds were able to censor it.
6 Urantsetseg Munkhbat
Female judo athlete Urantsetseg Munkhbat holds a certain record – she had the first nip slip of the 2012 Olympics. She’s probably not the happiest about that one. Munkhbat was competing in the bronze quarterfinal of the women’s 48 kg judo competition, representing Mongolia. She was against Argentina’s Paula Pareto, and the two women were struggling to see who would come out on top. At one point in the battle, Pareto grabbed Munkhbat’s sports bra and during their attempts to thwart one another, Munkhbat’s sports bra got pulled to the side and certain parts of the Mongolian judo star’s anatomy were exposed to audiences, both in the venue and watching from home.
5 Tom Daley
Diver Tom Daley is a bit of a national sweetheart in his home country of Britain. He’s adorable with a swoon-worthy swimmers’ body. However, not even his charm and good look can make him immune to gravity. Daley completed a dive and the force of him entering the water caused his Speedo trunks to sag a little bit, exposing his backside to the camera while he was underwater. Luckily, live audiences likely didn’t see it, but the cameras see everything. With the heights that divers jump from, and the speed at which they enter the water, it’s surprising that it doesn’t happen more often.
4 Dana Vollmer
American athlete Dana Vollmer had a successful showing at the 2012 Olympics, winning her first individual gold medal and breaking the world record with her performance in the 100 metre butterfly. What wardrobe malfunction occurred during Vollmer’s swim? Surprisingly, not a suit slip that exposed too much, as is the case in most wardrobe malfunctions occurring during water sports. No, Vollmer lost part of her costume – the outer cap of her swimming head gear, to be specific. Not having the outer cap can cause a lot of difficulties for the swimmer, including potentially slowing them down due to dragging, and leaving their goggles more prone to slipping. Vollmer swam on, undeterred, and came in first. The cap? It was found beside one of the tracking cameras underwater, at the bottom of the pool.
3 Christopher Spring
Most wardrobe malfunctions happen during games – not Canadian bobsledder Christopher Spring’s. Knowing how tight bobsled uniforms are, perhaps, Spring tried on his uniform prior to the game, you know, just to make sure everything still fit. Well, he was in for quite a surprise – the suit ended up ripping down the front, exposing the athlete’s stomach – or his #powerbelly, as he said in the tweet he shared the incident in. He must have found another suit in a slightly bigger size for the 2 man Olympic race that he was supposed to face the next day. Good thing he tried it on beforehand!
2 Henrik Harlaut
You know the trend of wearing baggy pants far too low that caused many to complain? Well, apparently it was all the rage on the ski slopes at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. There were several wardrobe malfunctions on the slopes as slopestyle skiers found their pants slipping down periodically throughout their run. The most entertaining was Swedish skier Henrik Harlaut. Harlaut is known for his baggy pants, according to Norwegian skier Per Kristian Hunder. While the fans may love it, and it may differentiate Harlaut from the pack when it comes to style, it definitely didn’t help when it comes to wardrobe malfunctions. Harlaut is pictured with his pants around his calves, underwear on display for the world to see.
1 Olga Graf
You know when you sometimes do something completely out of habit, on autopilot, without even really realizing what you’re doing? Russian speedskater Olga Graf probably does. Graf was wearing a skintight speed skating uniform, but her wardrobe malfunction didn’t come as a result of the uniform giving way and suddenly splitting somewhere. At the 2014 Winter Olympics, Graf was happily skating away with a bronze medal in her possession, happy to have earned a medal on her home turf. While skating, she started to unzip her speedskating uniform – before suddenly realizing she was in public, not back in the dressing room.