Any professional athlete will tell you that the odd injury is to be expected. From the occasional knee scrape to a full blown broken ankle, sportspeople are forced to put their bodies on the line every time they turn up for work. Over the years there have been a few injuries that completely stand out from the rest. Here are a few of them.
Needless to say, this article isn’t for the faint-hearted.
Figure skating is not often associated with being a particularly rough sport, but back in 2007, Canadian skater Jessica Dube suffered one of the worst injuries ever seen on the ice. During a routine with partner Bryce Davison at the Four Continents Championship, Dube was mid way through a camel spin when she was caught in the face by one of Davison’s blades. Fans looked on in horror as Dube fell down clutching her face, while blood quickly started to pool on the ice in front of her. Dube was rushed to hospital, where she received 83 stitches across her cheek and nose. The couple were treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, before making a return to the ice just two months later.
There have been a number of notable basketball injuries over the years, but none have made fans squirm quite as much as Akil Mitchell’s infamous ‘pop out’. During a 2017 match between the New Zealand Breakers and Cairns Taipans, Mitchell dropped to the floor and began writhing in agony, following a seemingly inoffensive knock to the face. When the 25-year-old turned to face the crowd however, it soon became evident that his eyeball had been gouged clean out of its socket. Mitchell has since made a full recovery, and currently plays for the Long Island Nets in the NBA G League.
Professional wrestling may be fake, but you’d do well not to bring that up in front of former WCW star Sid Vicious. During a match-up with Jeff Jarrett in 2001, Vicious climbed to the top rope to attempt one of his trademark jumping kicks. The one-time member of the Four Horsemen managed to put a boot in his opponent’s face, but his awkward landing will forever live on in the memories of everyone at the sold out pay-per-view – who probably hadn’t seen a foot facing the wrong way before. Sid broke both the tibia and fibula in his left leg, and was sidelined for almost three years. Ouch!
There have been a number of horrific injuries in the Premier League, but one incident is often cited as being the worst of the bunch. During a league match between Coventry City and Manchester United in 1996, Coventry’s David Busst was caught up in a challenge with two United players, that led to compound fractures in his tibia and fibula. The break had huge implications both on and off the field, and effectively ended Busst’s career as a professional footballer. Following the incident, goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel is reported to have vomited on the pitch. Schmeichel was later given counselling, along with a number of other players present during what has been described as an explosion of bone and muscle. It apparently took Old Trafford staff around 10 minutes to clean up the blood.
MMA is one of the most brutal sports since the gladiators of Ancient Rome, and fans have gotten used to seeing the octagon frequently splattered with blood. The incident that is widely regarded to be the most gruesome that the sport has ever witnessed, happened back in 2008, in a UFC fight between Corey Hill and Dale Hartt. Whilst attempting a fierce low kick, Hill shattered his shinbone in such a way, that his leg appeared to be made of rubber. Commentator Joe Rogan was one of the first onlookers to react to the break, and could be heard screaming at the referee to stop the fight. It took 18 months and a metal rod for Hill to recovery from his injury. Unfortunately, the fighter passed away in 2015 from a heart attack.
These days, football players are often accused of being a little soft when it comes to knocks and scrapes, but this wasn’t always the case. During a 1981 match between German sides Arminia Bielefeld and Werder Bremen, midfielder Ewald Lienen suffered a 25cm gash to his leg following a ‘studs up’ challenge from Bremen’s Norbert Seigmann. The cut was so deep, that Lienan’s muscles and femur were exposed for all to see, causing his teammates to look away in shock. Lienan wasn’t about to take his injury laying down however, and moments after the tackle, he ran to the opposition coach to voice his dissatisfaction with Bremen’s rough tactics. The next time someone calls footballers a bunch of pansies, it’s probably worth showing them this clip.
Much like an unexpected paper cut, it’s often the more subtle injuries that make us cringe the most, and Swiss footballer Paulo Diogo has earned himself a place in the history books for this very reason. While playing for Servette FC in 2004, Diogo provided an assist for an important 87th minute goal. During the team’s celebrations, the midfielder climbed a metal fence separating the pitch and the fans, and managed to get his wedding ring caught on the barrier. He then jumped down from the fence, completely ripping off the top half of his finger in the process. To add insult to injury, the ref handed him a yellow card moments later.
NHL goalie Clint Malarchuk enjoyed a successful career in professional ice hockey that spanned three decades. But ask any hockey fan about the Canadian’s playing days, and they’re likely to recall one specific incident. In 1989, Malarchuk was involved in a collision with two players that led to his jugular vein and carotid artery being sliced open. The immediate impact of the cut resembled something from a Quentin Tarantino movie, with Malarchuk losing three pints of blood in a matter of seconds. Amazingly, Malarchuk survived the ordeal, thanks to the quick actions of team athletic trainer and Vietnam veteran Jim Pizzutelli. It took 300 stitches to repair the wound, and Malarchuk was back on the ice within 10 days. 11 fans fainted, two had heart-attacks, and three players threw up on the ice.
Rugby players are known for being tough chaps, but New Zealand’s Wayne Shelford substantially raised the bar during a match between the All Blacks and France in 1986. About 20 minutes into the match, Shelford found himself at the bottom of a ruck, when a stray French boot managed to land on his ‘equipment’ – tearing his scrotum and leaving one testicle out in the open. For most guys this would be the stuff of nightmares, but Shelford (who is about to become the toughest bloke you’ve ever heard of) calmly asked the team physio to stitch him up, before returning to the match. He also lost four teeth and suffered a severe concussion. Good old Rugby.
While each of the injuries on this list are shocking, none are more disturbingly graphic than than the infamous accident involving basketball player Kevin Ware. During a match between the University of Louisville and Duke Blue Devils in 2013, Ware landed awkwardly after attempting to block a shot and broke his tibia. The break was so violent, that Ware’s shinbone could be seen poking through his skin, causing both players and spectators to look away in despair. Ware is reported to have shouted ‘I’m fine, just win the game’ to his teammates, before being carried off the court. The now 24-year-old has made a full recovery.