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Fourth-Place Medal

Friday the 13th special: the five unluckiest Olympians

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

Mary Decker after falling in the Los Angeles Olympics. (AP)

It's Friday the 13th. If superstitions and horror movies are to be believed, it's the day when bad luck will supposedly haunt us all. With the London Olympics just two weeks away, it made FPM think. Who are the unluckiest Olympians?

Mary Decker -- The 3000m at the 1984 Olympics was supposed to be Mary Decker's big moment. Decker, the reigning world champion at 1500m and 3000m was running in front of her home crowd. Instead, she collided with Zola Budd in the 3000m final, and injured her hip. She had to be carried off the track, and never won an Olympic medal.

[ Related: Decker and Budd, forever linked in agony ]

Milorad Cavic -- Representing Serbia in 2008, Cavic broke the Olympic record in the semifinals of the 100m butterfly. In the finals, he was up against Michael Phelps, the juggernaut of the Beijing Games who was in pursuit of eight medals. Though it appeared Cavic touched the wall before Phelps, he didn't hit it with enough pressure to trigger the sensor until after Phelps touched. Cavic lost by 1/100 of a second.

Roy Jones -- Though Jones is remembered for his 40 knockouts as a professional boxer, a controversy around him led to changes in Olympic boxing. In 1988, Jones walked through his division to the finals, where he met South Korean Park Si-Hun, who earned his berth in the finals after several suspect, hometown calls. Though Jones outstruck Park 86-32, judges gave the decision to the South Korean fighter. Park apologized to Jones after the match, admitting he lost the fight.

Yang Tae-Young -- When Young competed on the parallel bars during the men's gymnastics all-around competition, he was given the wrong start value for his routine. He missed out on a 0.1 of a point, and lost the all-around to American Paul Hamm by 0.012. The South Korean protest was not filed in time, and the result stood.

1972 U.S. men's basketball team -- This team's misfortune was described as "one of the greatest controversies in the history of international sports" by the "Complete Book of the Olympics." With six seconds left, the USSR had the ball and a one-point lead. After Soviet player Sasha Belov passed the ball to American Doug Collins, the Soviets fouled Collins so hard he lost consciousness.

[ Related: Blake Griffin out of Olympics after injury ]

Still, Collins hit his free throws and the U.S. had the lead. After the game started again and two seconds passed, the Soviet coach claimed he called a timeout. He was given the timeout, but when play resumed, time ran out, and the U.S. celebrated its gold medal.

Or so they thought. R. William Jones, the head of the basketball federation, stepped on the floor and ordered three seconds put on the clock, the time left when the Soviet coach called the timeout. Though Jones had absolutely no authority to make this call, officials didn't question the man who employed them. The Soviets scored in the three seconds. The U.S. lost its protest in front of a board that voted on Cold War lines.

The Americans voted not to accept the silver medals. Their medals continue to sit in a vault in Lausanne, Switzerland. It's a good bet those medals will continue to sit there.

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