Before the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Japan had won the team gold in in gymnastics in all the four previous Olympics. So one can say that the Japanese were the undisputed champions in men's gymnastics in the 1960s and 70s. Naturally, they were contenders for the gold in Montreal too.
Shun Fujimoto, a member of the Japanese men’s gymnastics team at the Games, broke his right knee while doing floor exercises in the finals.
Shun ignored his injury, knowing that if he withdrew, his team would lose out to the USSR in the overall tally. He did not even reveal the magnitude of his hurt to his teammates, fearing that it would impact their performance adversely. Despite terrible pain, he managed to complete the pommel horse routine, and quite miraculously, scored 9.5 out of 10. He then faced the rings, his final event. Shun performed extraordinarily, without getting distracted by the thought of the inevitable effects of dismounting from a height of eight feet with his broken knee. After completing his routine, he hurled himself into a beautifully executed somersault dismount.
When he hit the floor, he felt excruciating pain, but kept his poise and raised his arms in a perfect finish before falling down. He had scored a 9.7, his highest-ever score on the rings. And he won the individual gold for the event. But the dismount dislocated his broken kneecap and tore ligaments.
His superb performance in the face of physical agony enabled the Japanese team (576.85 points) win Gold, beating the USSR by a margin of, hold your breath, 0.40 points! After winning the closest gymnastics team competition in Olympic history, Shun joined his team at the victory stand to receive his gold medal, and he did it without assistance.
He stated that he had not wanted to let his team down by revealing his injury. Later, when asked whether he would do what he did again, he replied frankly, “No, I wouldn’t.”
This simple statement shows that Shun is human after all, but a very special kind of human. And Shun Fujimoto is a revered name in Japan today.
[Source: Wikipedia, http://gymnasticszone.com and other Internet sites. The picture is from Wikipedia.]