Most Unpredictable Olympic Events

Alex HallCorrespondent IIIJuly 2, 2012

Most Unpredictable Olympic Events

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    While some events like hockey, 200-meter dashes and wrestling have their favorites and underdogs, those titles don't apply to every Olympic event.

    All of the Summer Olympic sports take a tremendous amount of skill from athletes, but there are four sports that come to mind with a significant amount of luck involved in who takes home first and who leaves without a medal.

    Here's a look at the four most unpredictable events during the Summer Olympic games.


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    Sailing is one sport where you need a tremendous amount of knowledge, skill and a good-luck kiss from Lady Luck to prevail.

    In order to be as dominant as Great Britain's Ben Ainslie, one must understand the effects any change in wind direction, any ripple in the ocean and any misstep on the athlete's part. All these factors can and do affect podium positions.

    Ainslie has mastered the art with medals at each Olympic Games since 1996, but it doesn't change how quickly one can go from leading the way to close to last place. All it takes is one mistake to go from gold medalist to national disappointment.


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    The beautiful game has been a fixture at the Summer Olympics since 1900, and if you caught any of the Euro 2012 tournament, you're well aware of the game's unpredictability.

    Italy came from a relative afterthought to 90 minutes away from winning the entire tournament before falling 4-0 to Spain. The 2010 FIFA World Cup champions became the first nation ever to win consecutive Euro titles and captured their third major title in as many tournaments.

    The Spanish will enter these London games as the favorites, but as Italy so vividly showed during their Euro run, anything can happen on the pitch.

    Perhaps the most unpredictable aspect of the game is that when a fixture is still level after overtime concludes, the winner is decided by a penalty-kick shootout. If that doesn't have an amount of dumb luck to it, I don't know what does.


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    Who is that attractive young woman in the photo on this slide, you ask? None other than Australian Caroline Buchanan, 2012 Women's Olympic BMX gold-medal favorite.

    Debuting in the 2008 Beijing Games, Olympic BMX is brand new to the world stage, and any X-Games enthusiast can tell you just how unpredictable the sport can be.

    Originating from Southern California in the 1970s, the sport has gone worldwide in its short history.

    In fact, it's so internationally popular that no Americans took home gold in Beijing, with Maris Strombergs of Latvia and Anne-Caroline Chausson of France taking home the gold in men's and women's events respectively.

    Buchanan is currently the second-ranked woman in the world at her sport of choice and will be a heavy favorite heading into the London Games.

    The unpredictability of the sport comes from the massive amounts of ways to injure one's self during the race. It seems every year that we see some BMX riders at the Summer X-Games lose their shot at glory due to hitting a bad part of the track or from other errors.

    Due to the short history of the sport at the Olympic Games and the sheer danger involved in the event, BMX was a shoe-in to make this list.

50-Meter Freestyle

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    The 50-meter freestyle swimming event makes the list based on the fact the race is so darn short that whoever gets off to the best start usually has the race in the bag.

    If you caught the men's 50-meter freestyle U.S. qualifying rounds on NBC last Sunday, you saw just how much of a "blink-and-you-missed-it" type event this is.

    From Summer Olympics to Summer Olympics, there is very little consistency as to which athletes and nations find their way to the podium. Part of that is due to fluctuating talent over four-year gaps in games, but a chunk of that fact can also be tallied up to the event itself.

    In 2008, Germany's Britta Steffen took home the gold in the women's event, four years after the Netherlands' Inge de Bruijn did so in Athens.

    On the men's side, the consistency in nations is there, but the winners certainly fluctuate. In the 2004 games, American Gary Hall Jr. won the event, while in 2000 he tied teammate Anthony Ervin for gold with both men finishing just in 21.98 seconds.

    An exact tie when a race is just over 20 seconds long caught everyone off-guard and just goes to show one of the big reasons for the 50-meter freestyle earning its place among these other events.