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Self-defeating People: Athletes who have reached unprecedented heights after serious injuries
Self-defeating People: Athletes who have reached unprecedented heights after serious injuries

Often we see only the rosy part of the life of athletes: victories, medals, records, recognition, success, fans. But few people think about the other side of the medal: in order to achieve success, athletes need to train a lot, a lot, endure hardships, push family and loved ones into the background, go to the goal through pain and recover from injuries. And it would be fine if the latter could be easily dealt with. After all, history knows many examples when annoying falls and injuries forced us to say goodbye to the world of sports and even provided health problems for life (up to disability). But there are also many examples of stories of those people who were not only able to recover, but also became champions in spite of everything.

Elena Berezhnaya, figure skating

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze at the moment of triumph in Salt Lake City

In 2002, Elena Berezhnaya, paired with Anton Sikharulidze, took the "gold" of the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. But few people know that a few years before that, the skater could not think not only about the coveted medal, it could have happened that she would not have been able to get on her feet at all.

Before Anton, the athlete skated with Oleog Shlyakhov, whose complex character was legendary. The young man could not only easily raise his voice to his partner in front of everyone, but even hit. Elena finally decided to leave her colleague after the 1996 European championship. But the trouble happened not at the time of the competition, but during a regular training session: Shlyakhov, while performing one of the elements, touched Berezhnaya's temple with a skate. The blow was so strong that fragments of the temporal bone touched the brain. Elena was then barely 18 years old, and the doctors were preparing for the worst: according to their forecasts, the skater would not only be able to walk, but she would not be able to speak either. All this time, Anton Sikharulidze was next to the girl, who believed that not all was lost. And Berezhnaya was able to prove that there is no impossible, already three months after the injury, returning to the ice, and two years later taking the "silver" of the Japanese Nagano. But the biggest success lay ahead: a triumph at the Salt Lake City Olympics. True, the joy of victory was clouded by the fact that the judges decided to award another set of gold medals to the Canadian pair. But that's a completely different story.

Tatiana Totmianina, figure skating

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin - Champions of the Olympic Games in Turin

A similar situation happened with another domestic figure skater, who also risked being disabled for life. But her fortitude helped Totmianina not only get back on her feet, but also become an Olympic champion.

Tatiana skated with Maxim Marinin since the age of 14, and it seemed that triumph at the Games was only a matter of time: the couple soon began to win one trophy after another. But during one of the skates, the partner fell himself, did not hold the girl in his arms, and she hit her head on the ice. Totmianina lost consciousness, and they carried her away on a stretcher.

In spite of everything, after two months, the skater returned to the sport. But for a long time she struggled with the fear of going out on the ice. And Marinin also experienced psychological problems, feeling guilty. However, the guys coped with the difficulties and in 2006 became the champions of the Olympic Games in Turin.

Alexander Popov, swimming

Alexander Popov

Alexander Popov is one of the most titled and famous swimmers of the 20th century.At the Olympics in Barcelona (1992) and Atlanta (1996), he won two gold medals. But it was after the Games in the USA that an incident occurred, after which the athlete could generally say goodbye to life.

In August 1996, Alexander and his friend saw off the girls they knew. One of the sellers in the market dropped an unpleasant remark in their address, after which a skirmish ensued, which escalated into a fight. Popov was stabbed in the side and stabbed in the back of the head. In the hospital, it turned out that the knife went 17 cm deep, the kidneys, lung and diaphragm were affected. The athlete underwent surgery, and in December he came to the pool. And almost four years later, he was able to take the "silver" in Sydney.

Valery Kharlamov, hockey

Valery Kharlamov

One of the most famous hockey players in the history of this sport might never have gone on the ice at all: as a teenager, doctors diagnosed him with a heart defect. Naturally, there was no question of any physical activity. But Valery took a chance and proved that even a terrible disease is not a sentence.

In general, Kharlamov got up on skates at the age of seven, but after a terrible diagnosis, you could even forget about sports. But the guy's father brought him back to the ice. And soon the disease disappeared. Valery was not only able to break into the national team of the Soviet Union, but also won gold medals in Sapporo (1972) and Innsbruck (1976).

However, fate again decided to test the strength of the hockey player. After the last games, he had a terrible accident, in which he received numerous injuries and injuries. Valery learned to walk again, but still returned to the ice and four years later became the silver medalist of the Olympic Games in Lake Placid.

Aliya Mustafina, artistic gymnastics

Aliya Mustafina

As a rule, it is very difficult to return to artistic gymnastics even after minor injuries. And in the case of Aliya Mustafina, it would seem that there could be no question of continuing her career.

In the 2011 European Championships, the gymnast landed unsuccessfully after performing a vault. The severity of the injury could be judged by the fact that the athlete could not walk on her own, and they carried her away in their arms. It turned out that Mustafina had a cruciate knee ligament rupture. An operation was required.

But Aliya did not even think to despair. And she did the right thing: in London (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2016), she took the Olympic gold medal on the uneven bars.

Victor An, short track

Viktor An

The once titled Russian athlete was named Ahn Hyun Soo, he lived in South Korea and brought 3 gold medals for his country at the 2006 Turin Games. But after the triumph, a story happened to him, after which Victor was even forced to change his citizenship.

In 2008, during a routine workout, an athlete crashed into a fence and broke his knee. He was recovering for almost a year, but he was not included in the South Korean national team to participate in the Vancouver Olympics. Then An decided to try his hand in another country, and in 2011 he became a citizen of Russia. Already in Sochi, he was able to win three "gold" Games for his new homeland.

Mario Lemieux, hockey

Mario Lemieux

Among foreign athletes, there are also many who were able to rise from the ashes in spite of everything. One of the striking examples is the story of the Canadian hockey player Mario Lemieux.

In the late 80s, the athlete began to complain of back pain, and soon doctors discovered that he had a displacement of the discs in the spine. But during the operation, an infection was introduced into his body, which led to the fact that the young man was confined to a hospital bed. But he was only 25 years old.

After spending six months recovering, Lemieux was still able to return to the ice and even won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh. But the back pain intensified. It turned out that Mario has a rare type of cancer - Hodgkin's lymphoma. The hockey player underwent radiation therapy, but even after that he continued to perform at a high level and retired in 2006.

Kim Young Ah, figure skating

Kim Young Ah

The South Korean athlete is one of the most titled skaters of our time. But few people know that she had to face great difficulties immediately after the end of her junior career.

Kim Young Ah started her career brilliantly, beating all her rivals over and over again. But the verdict from the doctors sounded like a bolt from the blue: the girl had a spinal hernia. It would seem that titles should be forgotten. But she did not give up and after treatment managed to become the first athlete to win all the highest titles in figure skating: the 2010 Olympics, the world championship, the Grand Prix final, the championship of four continents.

Especially for anyone interested in the history of sports, a story about how the American champion became the legend of Soviet boxing… And for this he even had to move from New York to Tashkent.

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