Just about everyone has heard the expressions “no pain no gain,” and “no guts no glory.” They both speak to a cultural conception that pain is necessary for success, especially when involved with something physical like an athletic sport. Just the fact that injuries do occur often in sports seem to support this- the orthopedics profession would likely not be nearly as important if not for sports injuries. True to those expressions, some of the best athletes in the world have been seriously injured, but persevered through their injuries to become even greater.
Take for example Muhammad Ali- a household name if there ever was one. Ali’s jawbone was broken in his well-documented fight against Ken Norton in 1973. Far from removing him from the competition though, Ali chose to continue, going so far as to fight with his jaw wired shut during fights. Even during the fight with Norton, although Ali ultimately lost because of the jaw, he kept fighting through the whole bout, despite the pain. Ali of course continued his career quite successfully after his broken jaw. He fought and defeated Norton a year later, and went on to become one of the most successful boxers of all time.
Perhaps you’ve heard of a guy named Curt Schilling? The pitcher played an entire game vs. the New York Yankees in 2004 on a broken ankle which eventually needed a total of 55 stitches. Not only did he play, but his team won in large part due to his pitching, in which he let an incredibly low number of hits through. This game resulted in the famous “bloody sock”, Schilling soaked his white sock completely red with blood from the ankle. Schilling went on to play multiple games on his ankle, requiring the assistance of an orthopedic procedure called the Schilling Tendon Procedure named after him.
And then of course there’s gymnast Kerry Strug. In the 1996 Olympics, Strug messed up a vault landing, damaging her ankle. However she knew that mathematically she would have to go once more in order to guarantee a gold for her team. So, injured ankle and all she limped to the end of the runway and performed a second vault. Although she collapsed immediately after making a successful landing and saluting the judges, requiring assistance off of the landing pad, she received a score of 9.712, which was enough to get her team the gold medal.
Although it’s important to be aware of any injuries, all of these athletes pushed themselves farther and also received professional assistance. Not saying anyone should go out and hurt themselves, let alone another during a sport, but just remember the next time you feel like quitting; all these athletes pushed through their pain and accomplished great things.
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Mercedes Potter is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. For more information on Orthopedics in Oklahoma City, follow her on Twitter @CedesPotter.