Top 5 Athlete Comebacks After Knee Injuries
Knee injuries suck. Trust us, we’ve been there. When you’re hurt or injured, it can leave you feeling down, discouraged, and can take a toll on your confidence, especially when it prevents you from doing what you love.
But there’s still hope. What counts is the persistence, perseverance, and courage to work towards recovery and these five athletes are the proof. Each one of them has experienced career-threatening injuries but managed to make incredible comebacks. And you can too.
First up is Rafael Nadal, also known as the “King of Clay”. He has won a record 12 French Open singles titles, is currently ranked second in the world, and at the age of 24, he became the youngest player to complete the Career Grand Slam and the Career Golden Slam by winning all four majors and a gold medal at the Olympics.
A highly accomplished player, he is also no stranger to knee injury. Since the age of 21, Nadal has been battling patellar tendonitis, also known as jumper’s knee. This injury has been a cause of pain and frustration, often coming in the way of his career by forcing him to withdraw from tournaments, most notably Wimbledon in 2009 where he was left unable to defend his singles title.
But Nadal isn’t the type to give up easily. With a strong will to gain back his strength, he went through an aggressive treatment and recovery.
As a result he made an amazing comeback, marking 2013 as his best season where he reached the final in 13 of 14 tournaments and reclaimed the No.1 ranking for the first time since June 2011. Since then, he has won more than 87% of his matches during his career and has gone on to continue dominating the courts.
Lindsey Vonn is a machine and a beast on the slopes when it comes to skiing.
She started racing at the age of 7 and since then, Vonn has experienced a stream of injuries and surgeries, but this has never stopped the 82-time winning athlete from pushing her limits.
Her knees endured a variety of injuries, including ACL and MCL tears, as well as knee fractures. Among the harshest accidents were ACL and MCL tears along with joint damage that forced her to withdraw from the Sochi Olympics. After four years of waiting, she was understandably extremely upset and frustrated, but she did not give up. She went through an intense rehabilitation period until December 2014.
Showing her determination, Vonn clawed her way back to win her fifth super-G in 2015 and claimed her 63rd World Cup. This broke Annemarie Moser-Proell's record in Cortina and left only Ingemar Stenmark ahead with his 86 victories. No matter how many challenges and injuries were thrown at Vonn, she never stepped back from her dreams and goals. She is the true definition of perseverance.
Connor McDavid’s extremely fast recovery is considered to be a miracle given how hard he crashed into Calgary Flames goalie Mike Smith at over 40km/h. A two-time National Hockey League All-Star, McDavid suffered a serious torn PCL and other multiple tears around the knee. Many agreed that this 2019 injury was career-ending.
McDavid decided not to proceed with surgery and, instead, took the route of intensive physiotherapy. Doctors recommended an immediate surgical procedure and stated that there was no guarantee of complete joint healing. But McDavid approached the recovery process as a full-time job and completely recovered in the span of six months. He got back in shape just in time for the first game of the 2019-20 season.
McDavid did not only come through the horrible injury but also scored the all-star leading points with 76 (27 goals and 49 assists) through 49 games. “There were tough days”, McDavid confessed, but his will to win over the injury was too powerful. He came back stronger and faster than ever.
Alex Morgan is one of the most well known female soccer players in the world. She has been a main face on the US team for over a decade, a top player in the National Women’s Soccer League, and has accumulated 169 appearances and 107 goals throughout her career. But it almost never happened.
Morgan was a rising star on track for the Olympics and was called up to the United States under-20 women’s national soccer team at the age of 17. But in a match during her senior year of high school she completely tore her ACL. For many, this would have marked the end of their career and dreams, especially in a stop and go sport like soccer. Not for Morgan. She underwent reconstructive surgery and pushed through intense rehabilitation. After only five months, she bounced back and made her mark as a player for the University of California at Berkeley which pushed her career to the next level.
With her potential and dynamic offensive ability, Morgan was noticed immediately. By 2011, she became the youngest player on the US team and, today, she is a two-time World Cup champion. It seems that there is nothing that can hold her back from her aspirations.
Lastly, one of the greatest shooters in the history of the NBA. It was a heartbreaking sight when Klay Thompson fell to the floor and ruptured his knee in Game six of the Finals in 2019.
A three-time NBA Champion, Klay Thompson was fouled from behind while attempting to score a layup in the third quarter of Game six against the Toronto Raptors. After landing awkwardly on the ground, he caused a stir of emotion among the crowd as he clutched his left knee in serious pain. He had torn his ACL.
Others would have stopped playing and given in, but not Thompson. After a short break in the locker room, he made an astounding comeback to shoot his ninth and tenth free throws of the night. He refused to be taken out and tried his best to stay in the game. Eventually, he was subbed and seen on crutches during the fourth quarter.
He is currently going through rehabilitation and expected to return for the team's 2020-21 training camp.
These amazing athletes have gone through tough times but proved that there is nothing that can stop them from their dreams and strong aspirations. They worked hard to recover and not only come back, but to perform at the highest level possible. We all have our own ups and down, but through perseverance and strength, we can rise up against those challenges.
If these athletes can do it, then so can you. We truly believe that there is an athlete inside each and every one of us. It sucks to get injured but it doesn’t mark the end. We want to be here for you and help you push through tough times, whether you’re training for the Olympics, setting a personal best, or simply want to get back to the activities you love.