It was playing soccer and not golf that left Rory McIlroy with a ruptured ligament in his right ankle.
The Northern Irishman is already undergoing rehabilitation, with doubts over his participation at the British Open later this month.
Perhaps the only consolation for the world’s No. 1 golfer is that he is not the first athlete to be injured while not playing the sport that pays the bills.
Here is a look at some other sports stars’ freak injuries.
LeMond was at the peak of cycling in 1987 after becoming the first American to win the Tour de France the previous year. LeMond didn’t get to defend his title — and not due to any injury suffered while on his bike. Instead his career was derailed after being shot accidentally by his brother-in-law. He was sprayed with shotgun pellets while they were turkey hunting. He recovered slowly and the following year he had an emergency appendectomy and knee and shin problems.
Celebrations after winning her fourth Wimbledon singles title in 2010 were short-lived. Barely a week later, Williams was walking out of a restaurant in the German city of Munich when she stood on some glass. The American had to undergo surgery to repair deep cuts on her right foot and that was just the start of her problems. There were a series of health complications and she missed around a year of the tennis tour.
Even doing nothing can be dangerous for a soccer player. With his foot propped up on a coffee table while watching television in 2001, Ferdinand strained a tendon behind a knee. He had more time to watch TV as he recovered from the injury. At the time, Ferdinand was world soccer’s most expensive defender following a $26-million move from West Ham to Leeds in 2000. After going on to play for Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers, Ferdinand has just retired from soccer so has more time to put his feet up.
Living out a rock star fantasy through a video is not without its perils. Zumaya, a former reliever for baseball’s Detroit Tigers, missed three games in the 2006 American League Championship Series with an inflammation in his wrist and forearm. The cause? Spending too much time playing “Guitar Hero” where buttons are tapped on a fake instrument.
Modest celebrations are not just a matter of good sporting etiquette. Over-exuberance has its dangers. The most replayed moment of this NFL quarterback’s career came in the second quarter of a 1997 game while playing for the Washington Redskins against the New York Giants. Frerotte suffered a sprained neck when he headed-butted a concrete wall after running for a touchdown — an incident that is still a favorite for blooper reels.
Many athletes are prevented by their insurers from risking their limbs by hitting the ski slopes for fun. For American skier Miller, the injury that nearly prevented him going to the 2010 Winter Olympics happened indoors playing sport. Miller sprained his right ankle during a team volleyball game at the end of 2009, forcing him to miss some pre-Olympic races. Although he made the Vancouver Games in February 2010, he wasn’t in top shape. Still, Miller left Canada with a complete set of medals — gold, silver and bronze.
The biggest cricket series for Australians is the competition for the hallowed, tiny Ashes urn against England. McGrath had to miss one of the five test matches in the 2005 series in England after sustaining an injury while messing around with teammates with a ball. McGrath was running to catch the ball when he stood on a cricket ball left on the ground and damaged a ligament. In future he stuck to cricket.
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