These Olympic Rivalries Are Eerily Similar to Reality Show Drama

Patriotic and petty.

The Olympics are supposed to be about the perfect ideal of competition. The athletes are supposed to have perfect bodies and sharply focused minds. They are supposed to be supremely motivated toward victory, yet utterly gracious in defeat. But, as with all things in life, the Olympics don’t always turn out that way. Sometimes Olympic rivalries are hard to distinguish from reality TV.

The same thing that drives Olympians to be the best can also drive them to do some incredibly petty things. In the same way, if you put a group of fame starved would-be celebs in the same room, sparks can fly. From backstage assaults to all too public affairs, here are some Olympic rivalries that got just as petty as reality TV drama.

  • Nancy Kerrigan and Lauren Conrad Know the Pain of a Wicked Sabotage The figure skating rivalry between Nancy Kerrigan and Tanya Harding left the ice and jumped into the tabloids in 1994. Harding’s ex-husband and her bodyguard paid a man to break Nancy Kerrigan’s leg at the national championships in Detroit ahead of the Lillehammer Olympics. The attack was bungled when Shane Stant hit Kerrigan on the thigh though he was aiming for the knee.


    Kerrigan versus Harding is totally that time Heidi Montag and then-boyfriend Spencer Pratt allegedly leaked a story that Lauren Conrad and her husband, Jason Wahler, had made a sex tape. Both schemes were hatched to ruin the competition. Petty AF. Obviously, Conrad and Montag are no longer BFFs. Kerrigan went on to find moderate success in her sport, while Harding avoided jail time and followed a path of so many flash in the pan media stars take after a brush with infamy: she released a sex tape.

  • Nene Leakes Would Approve of This Gold Medal Curve Ben Johnson Delivered

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    Before Canada’s Ben Johnson burst onto the international sprinting scene, American Carl Lewis was the dominant runner in the world. At the 1984 Olympics, Lewis won four gold medals. At the 1987 World Championships and 1988 Olympics, Johnson bested Lewis, though Lewis recorded personal best runs. The American speedster made several salty comments to the media accusing Johnson of taking steroids. He told one reporter, “A lot of people have come out of nowhere and are running unbelievably, and I just don’t think they’re doing it without drugs.” For his part, Johnson gave Lewis the cold shoulder after his victory. High-key shade.

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  • Shirley Babashoff Was Pulling Receipts Like BBWLA’s Imani

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    American swimmer Shirley Babashoff didn’t just have one rival, she had beef with pretty much the entire East German roster. At the 1976 summer games in Montreal, Babashoff was given the nickname “Surly Shirley” after she accused the East German swimmers of doping in order to beat her. It took decades for Babashoff to be proven right, but with the East German athletes taken out of the equation, she is now the winner of five gold medals and one bronze from those Olympics.

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  • Ali Mazaheri Shades Ref Like This X Factor Contestant Did to Demi Lovato

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    Iranian boxer Ali Mazaheri took an incredibly petty turn after his disqualification during a match with rival Jose Larduet at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Three holding offenses cost Mazaheri the match and rather than stick around for the decision, he left the ring without taking the referee’s hand. When asked about the decision, Mazaheri called it “a fix … In my previous fights I had done really well. It was a setup … I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.” Mazaheri’s behavior reminds us of this classic X Factor moment when a delusional contestant opted to insult the panel of judges instead of hearing their very reasonable criticism.

  • The Russians Are As Messy As This Love & Hip Hop Foursome Pasha Grishuk and Yevgeny Platov V. Maia Usova and Aleksandr Zhulin After Pasha Grishuk and Yevgeny Platov were beaten by Maia Usova and Aleksandr Zhulin at the 1992 Olympics, known diva and figure skating bad girl Grishuk began an affair with Zhulin, who was married to Usova at the time. Maia, however, was not going to let that go without a fight. After the Olympics, Usova spotted Grishuk at Spago’s in Hollywood sipping a margarita. She slammed Pasha’s face into the bar as retribution. Pasha wasn’t going to let a little head trauma keep her down, as she continued the affair and took gold at the 1994 games. Figure skating drama is REAL.

    During the Season 3 reunion show of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, a similar young love quadrangle erupted, but at least the bodyguards were there to stop anyone’s head from slamming into any tables (though Lord knows they tried). All is fair in love and war, but figure skating and hip hop play by different rules.

Who do you think are the hottest athletes at the 2016 Olympics? We break down our choices in the video below.

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