3 Famous Athletes Who Kicked Butt While Injured

3 Famous Athletes Who Kicked Butt While Injured


The Heavenly Landing

Keri Strug helps U.S. win gold on a sprained ankle

1. Keri Strug Wins Gold. Injury Level = Good Lord How Did She Do That.

Setting: The 1996 Summer Olympics. Sport: Gymnastics. Category: Feats of gritty athletic awesomeness.

Here's what went down. In one of the most photo-worthy moments in Olympic history, U.S. athlete Keri Strug STUCK THE LANDING on her second vault attempt-- after spraining her ankle on the first attempt.

If you aren't familiar with the vault discipline, it's where humans use a springboard to bounce way up into the air, do a bunch of flips, and then attempt to land on flat ground without stumbling. 

Yeah, not easy.

Now think about doing all that with a busted ankle!

To really put it in perspective, Strug's injury was so bad that she had to crawl off the mat after completing her vault, which she did. And oh, by the way, her performance helped the U.S. Women's gymnastics team nab their first gold medal in the sport.

Now that's what I call gritty.


Gutting it Out

Tiger Woods wins U.S. Open with a Torn ACL and a Broken Leg

2. Tiger Woods. Injury Level = WFT!

Setting: The 2008 U.S. Open. Sport: Golf. Category: Things you probably shouldn't do unless you are a world-class athlete competing on the highest stage. 

We've heard a lot about Tiger in the news lately. Unfortunately, years and years of playing golf at a world-class level is finally catching up with his body, and he's had to deal with some unfortunate personal events that have been closely chronicled by the media.

But, let's not forget that Tiger was and is quite possibly the best golfer anyone has ever seen.

If you're a golf fan, you'll certainly never forget this: Tiger won the 2008 US Open while playing on a broken leg AND a torn ACL.  You heard me right.

Tiger gutted through 91 holes of golf, battling through a playoff to nab the win. 

Talk about focus. Most of us would have trouble walking on a torn ACL, let alone winning a major golf tournament. (And we don't advise doing much of either, so don't get any ideas.)

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The Flu Game

Michael Jordan

3. Michael Jordan. Injury Level = Dude, please go home, eat some chicken soup and call me in the morning.

Setting: The 2007 NBA Finals. Sport: Basketball. Category: He really IS that good.

For most people, having a bad case of the flu means lying in bed, shivering, and watching reruns for a couple of days. Maybe eat some chicken soup, maybe sip a little herbal tea, maybe call in sick for a few days.

You know, it's called recovery.

But if you're Michael Jordan, a debilitating virus is just another annoying obstacle, blocking your way on the quest for eternal greatness. And in the 1997 NBA Finals, Jordan added to his GOAT ("greatest of all time") status by strolling onto the court and putting up 38 points to lead the Bulls to a victory in game 5 while dealing with just such an obstacle. The Bulls went on to win the title, buoyed by Jordan's unexpected, inspirational performance.

It's a game that will live in infamy forever (sorry, Utah Jazz fans) and the legend of the flu game has only grown over the last 20 years. (Here's a great article from Fox sports which includes a little conspiracy theory...poisoned pizza?)

What Can We Learn?

So maybe you aren't Michael Jordan, Keri Strug, or Tiger Woods. Actually, we can guarantee you aren't. But you may have to summon the heart of a champion at some point during your own quest to continue to enjoy the activities and sports that you love to participate in.

Note: don't be a hero. We're definitely not saying to limp around on a torn ACL during your city league hoops game or go to latch up your skis and hit some moguls while you have the flu.

And for most of you, just consider staying off the vault apparatus completely.

But don't be afraid to summon your own inner superstar when dealing with your own recovery from injury.

You may have moments where you feel like you have to do all you can to deal with pain or discomfort. But, like these incredible athletes, if you keep your head in the game, you can do wonderful things.

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