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Monday, 6 August, 2001, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
No pain, no gain
Sport Online recalls sports stars who triumphed over injury.
By BBC Sport Online's Adrian Harte

Maurice Greene's triumph in the 100 metres in the World Athletics Championships proved not only that the Kansas Cannonball can limp faster than any other human can run, but also showed the incredible lengths that sport stars go to in order to win.

Grimacing Greene strained a quad muscle in the final few metres but still managed to hobble home ahead of Tim Montgomerey in the third-fastest time ever run.

It could have been a scene from a cheesy Hollywood script - Hobble to Victory perhaps - a sequel to the festive film favourite Escape to Victory in which Pele overcomes a shoulder injury to help a team of POWs draw with a Nazi select XI.

But, as any fan knows, sport regularly trumps anything Tinseltown can come up with.

Take the case of Bert Trautmann, who would have finished on the losing side in "Escape to Victory".

The German prisoner of war stayed on in England after World War Two and went on to play for Manchester City, winning over the initially unsurprisingly sceptical supporters.

Bert Trautmann
Trautmann's heroics earned him the Footballer of the Year award
His finest hour, so to speak, came in the 1956 FA Cup final. The goalkeeper produced an excellent performance in a 3-1 win over Birmingham. Three days later, an X-ray revealed that he had played much of the game with a broken neck.

The FA Cup has tended to have a curative effect over the years. In the 1956 decider, Liverpool's Gerry Byrne was involved in a serious collision at the start of his side's 1965 final success against Leeds.

Although he did not know it at the time, Byrne had broken his collarbone.

In those days, there were no substitutes and with the game going to extra-time, Byrne was forced to play about 90 minutes with the injury.

Research reveals that wearing an England shirt has a similarly salutary effect.


The late Colin Cowdrey copper-fastened his reputation as one of England's most courageous cricketers when he went into bat against West Indies at Lord's in 1963 despite having suffered a broken arm in the first innings.

England needed just six runs for victory but would have lost had the injured Cowdrey not returned to the wicket.

A succession of England footballers have similarly taken calls for "blood, sweat and tears" literally.

Most famously, the then Rangers defender Terry Butcher finished a World Cup qualifying match against Sweden in 1989 swathed in a blood-soaked bandage with his white England shirt dyed crimson.

Eight years later against Italy in Rome, Paul Ince followed the Butcher "How to be an England skipper" manual to the letter.

Like Butcher, he led England to a 0-0 draw away from home in a World Cup qualifier, and like Butcher, he finished the match swathed in bandages, and looking, in Paul Gascoigne's memorable phrase, like a "pint of Guinness".

Of course, football now allows for substitutions when really serious injury strikes, but that concept has yet to take off in boxing.
Danny Williams
Even the win failed to stop Williams' pain

So, when London boxer Danny Williams dislocated his shoulder twice last October in a bout against Mike Potter, his British heavyweight title challenge looked doomed.

But Williams fought on one-handed with his shoulder bandaged and managed to knock down his opponent three times to add the British belt to his Commonwealth crown.

And in an era when sport can appear contaminated by commercialism, such endeavours strike a chord. The real motivation of sports stars shine through.

As Greene said after his Edmonton triumph: "No one is going to give you the gold medal. You have to come out here and fight for it. You have to be willing to die for it."

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06 Aug 01 |  World Athletics
Golden Greene breaks pain barrier
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