From Pet Lions To A Baseball Bat: The Most Bizarre Sporting Injuries of 2017

Callum Walker

Sport is well-known for pushing athletes to the limit – whether mentally or physically – and injuries are often commonplace amongst competitors, especially in contact sports such as rugby and football. But sometimes injuries can occur in weird, and often, baffling circumstances with severe consequences for the victim.

“Celebrate good times, come on!”…Oh

Hamburg were at home to FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga in late August of this year. Just eight minutes had gone when a winger for the home side, Nicolai Mueller, volleyed a great cross into the bottom corner. Mueller, jubilant, turned to celebrate, performing a number of helicopter twirls before launching himself into a mid-air punch.

Unfortunately for Mueller, ecstasy turned to agony as he landed awkwardly and, in quite obvious pain, Mueller had to leave the field with what appeared a serious injury. In what had been an innocuous celebration, Mueller had ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. His club later confirmed that he would be out for approximately seven months.

“It was certainly a downer, I have never experienced anything like it before”. Markus Gisdol, Hamburg coach.

Furniture is not to be messed with

In late January of this year, the Oklahoma City Thunder played out an enthralling basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, with the former eventually prospering 109-98. Enes Kanter, in brilliant form for Thunder – at this point he was averaging 18 points and 8.3 rebounds – made his way to the bench during a time-out in the first half, appearing greatly frustrated.

On his travels, Kanter punched a chair so vigorously that he broke his forearm. In what was a completely unavoidable incident, the prognosis was no better either; he was confirmed to be out for 6-8 weeks. The innocent chair quite clearly had the last laugh.

“He shoots, he scores…he’s out”

Thibaut Courtois is a fantastic goalkeeper and had been in tremendous form for Chelsea in their title-winning season under Antonio Conte. Yet, it was not all a bed of roses in the 2016-17 Premier League campaign for the Belgian.

In April 2017, Courtois, whilst filming a promotional basketball video for Chelsea, suffered an embarrassing injury after landing awkwardly trying to catch a basketball. The incident, which ruled him out of the Blues’ vital away clash with Manchester United – which they subsequently lost 2-0, very nearly ruled him out of Chelsea’s FA Cup crunch with Spurs.

The basketball promotional film was organised by the club and was filmed as part of their commercial duties with the NBA. Courtois was taking part along with team-mates including Asmir Begovic – who then replaced Courtois in the Chelsea team for the United clash – Nemanja Matic, Marcos Alonso and Nathan Ake.

The nature of Courtois’s injury, although freakish and purely accidental, raised important questions as to why vital players were being asked to participate in commercial activities during such a key stage of, what would be, a title-winning campaign.

Petting a lion…what could possibly go wrong?!

South Africa, late September 2017. Rugby Union side, Ospreys, were at the Weltevreden Game Lodge in Bloemfontein in preparation for their Pro-14 match against the Cheetahs when hooker, Scott Baldwin, reached into a lion enclosure to pat one of its members.

Now the advice, “When you put your hand in a fence where there is a lion, you will get bitten,” is usually heeded by those of sound mind. Unfortunately, the climate must have affected Baldwin’s thought process as he boldly stroked one of the most fearsome animals on the planet. Yes, the inevitable happened – he was bitten. Baldwin was rushed to hospital with a bleeding arm, but that wasn’t all. He suffered an infection and subsequently feared the loss of his arm.

Fortunately, after missing three important games for the Welsh side, he returned, arm and all, in this weekend’s game against Saracens. His “pride” must have been well and truly dented.

“It was pretty stupid on Scott’s behalf and he is pretty lucky. It had nothing to do with where we were. It was a good environment and we were told how far back to stand. I don’t know what sort of wildlife show Scott has been watching where you can pat a lion on the head as if it’s a kitten.” Steve Tandy, Ospreys coach.

Golfer goes tumbling

World number one and 15-time PGA Tour winner, Dustin Johnson, was favourite going into the Masters at the Augusta National in April. That was until he fell down the stairs of his rental home, suffering a back injury in the process just a day before the competition.

The American tried to push through the pain barrier, warming up on the range and looked ready to take part, before withdrawing on the first tee.

“I’m playing the best golf of my life and to have a freak accident happen yesterday afternoon, it sucks really bad. I have been worked on all morning and obviously I can take some swings, but I can’t swing full, I can’t make my normal swing and I didn’t think there was any chance I could compete. I was wearing socks and slipped and went down the three stairs. The left side of my lower back took the brunt of it and my left elbow is bruised as well.” — Dustin Johnson.

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