Tiger Woods and other miracle sporting comebacks

Reuters

With Tiger Woods set to tee off at the Masters just 14 months after suffering severe leg injuries in a car crash, here's a look at some of the other athletes who beat the odds and returned to action after being involved in accidents or attacks:

 

- Ben Hogan -

In 1949 the American golfer Ben Hogan, who had already won three major titles, was at the wheel of his Cadillac alongside his wife when they hit a bus head on.

Doctors predicted Hogan would never walk again but the following year he won the the US Open and would go on to add five more major titles.

 

- Niki Lauda -

Austrian racing driver Niki Lauda survived the inferno of his Ferrari bursting into flames at the Nurburgring in August 1976, emerging with horrifying facial burns and damaged lungs.

Just six weeks later he was back behind the wheel and the following year he won a second world title, adding a third in 1984.

 

- Greg LeMond -

Greg LeMond, the first ever American Tour de France champion, was shot in the back in a hunting accident while on a turkey shoot with his in-laws in 1987.

He needed several hours of surgery to remove almost 30 pellets. The injuries took time to heal but two years later LeMond won his second Tour de France in a race that was only decided at the finish line of the 21st stage on the Champs-Elysees, an eight-second advantage giving him victory over Frenchman Laurent Fignon.

 

- Monica Seles -

Monica Seles was just 19 in 1993 when a mentally unstable and obsessed fan of her rival Steffi Graf leapt from the crowd to stab her between the shoulder blades at a tournament in Hamburg.

She was world number one at the time and had won eight Grand Slam titles.

It was two full years before she was back on court. Although she would say she never again felt the confidence she had before, she did however add another Grand Slam title to her trophy cabinet with the 1996 Australian Open.

 

- Lance Armstrong -

Texan Lance Armstrong emerged from a Norwegian deluge as surprise cycling world champion in 1993.

Three years later he was diagnosed with cancer, which he not only survived, but became an icon for millions when he won one Tour de France after another.

After years of denial, Armstrong admitted to doping and is now ostracised by the cycling community.

 

- Paul Pierce -

NBA player Paul Pierce was the new face at the Boston Celtics back in September 2000 when he suffered a frenzied knife attack in a nightclub, suffering 11 stab wounds to his face, neck and back.

But he played the whole of all their 82 matches the following season, scoring an average of 25 points per game.

Years later, Pierce revealed he had suffered from paranoia and depression due to the attack and had carried a gun for his protection.

 

- Christian Eriksen -

Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during a European Championship match in June 2021.

As his teammates surrounded him on the pitch, medics worked to revive him.

After being fitted with a defibrillator he resumed his club career with English Premier League side Brentford and last month returned to international action for Denmark, scoring in each of his first two games back.


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