How Often Do Ties Happen In The Olympics? Simone Manuel & Penny Oleksiak's Tie Was Unusual
On Thursday during the women's 100-meter freestyle event at the Olympics, Team USA's Simone Manuel tied with Canada's Penny Oleksiak for the gold medal, setting a world record as the first black woman to score gold in an individual swimming event. Moments after the historic race finished, both swimmers stood on the podium with gold medals — a sight you don't see every day. In fact, tying in swimming isn't a common occurrence, especially considering racers often win by just fractions of a second. This time around though, Manuel and Oleksiak touched the wall in perfect unison at 52.70 seconds.
The first time two swimmers tied at the Olympics happened over 30 years ago in Los Angeles. In 1984, Carrie Steinseifer and Nancy Hogshead — both of whom represented Team USA — clocked in with precisely identical times in the women's 100-meter freestyle. According to Swimming World Magazine, the tie, which scored Team USA two gold medals in the same event, was one of the Games' most talked about occurrences and for a good reason.
As opposed to holding a tie-breaking competition that could risk throwing off the Olympics' events schedule, extra medals are reserved in case a tie does happen. Better safe than sorry, they always say.
During the 2014 games in Sochi, for example, 46 additional gold medals were made in preparation for a possible tie, according to the Smithsonian.com. And, low and behold, two Alpine skiers — Slovenia's Tina Maze and Switzerland's Dominique Gisin — made it worth their while by crossing the finish line at exactly the same time. The Winter Games, however, aren't the only ones that have experienced ties. Athletes have tied for the top spot 26 times during the Summer Games, not counting any ties that occurred in Rio. Conversely, the Winter Games have witnessed only seven ties for gold. Still, in the grand scheme of things, 26 isn't a large number, especially considering the fact that there are hundreds of individual events across the board each year. OlympStats goes one to cite a particularly memorable gold medal tie that just so happened to have occurred in the Olympic pool, but was more controversial than that of Manuel and Oleksiak. During a synchronized swimming event in 1992, a judge wrongly scored a swimmer, placing her in first alongside another woman.
Like this year, the tie was between an American and Canadian swimmer. But by the looks of their congratulatory attitudes, Manuel and Oleksiak seemed genuinely happy for each other, excited to share the momentous victory.