Main content

The Olympics' most dangerous sport?

Thursday, August 09, 2012 - 1:00 PM
Source: SportsFan
Author: Brad Van Wely

A random question in case it ever comes up in your local pub trivia night: what Olympic event is played at speeds in excess of 200km/h, features a piece of equipment weighing just five grams and is arguably considered to be the most dangerous sport at the London Olympics?

The answer is badminton, which has been responsible for numerous serious eye injuries over the years according to some of the tournament's players.

Team GB's number one player Rajiv Ouseph told the story this week of how one of his junior coaches had to be hospitalised for two weeks and almost lost his sight in one eye after being nailed from a smash playing shuttle in Indonesia.

This all raises the inconsequential question as to what other sports could be considered the most dangerous here in London?

It's incredibly hard to go past last week's cross country event in the equestrian when it comes to athletes requiring danger money for their pursuits. For those who haven't witnessed cross country, riders and their mounts tackle a brutal, undulating, six-kilometre course over 20-plus jumps, some involving large immovable objects and others involving carefully descending (or falling in some cases) down massive gullies where it's quite easy for the rider to be thrown over the front of their horse at terrifying speed.

Such is the attrition rate, when it comes to falls, that riders are now required to wear the same airbag-style vests that are now mandatory for MotoGP riders. The vests are state-of-the-art pieces of technology which inflate almost instantly once a rider falls to cushion the blow and reduce the internal and external damage caused.

The likes of boxing and mountain biking also contain a fair level of danger, while weightlifting has produced some of the most graphic and gruesome dislocations and breakages over the years. But without being blasé about these unforgiving sports, these injuries generally aren't as permanent or comparable to losing an eye really, are they?

Physioroom.com, a website specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries, doesn't list eye injuries on its list of top five badminton ailments, a list which predominantly includes leg and arm injuries. One researcher (Chandra) conducted a study into ocular injuries in badminton back in 1974. These findings were based on over 60 cases of eye injuries from the sport in Malaysia with 86% related to being hit by the shuttle, while alarmingly, the other 14% were attributed to players being hit by a racquet. This raises the further worrying question of how many were hit with their own racquet and how many by their partner, or worse still an opposing player, considering the sport is played in such close quarters across the net.

For the record, the badminton Olympics tournament wrapped up in London a couple of days ago. Thankfully the Australian contingent of five athletes made it through the tournament unscathed from all reports.

So, anyone for a spot of badminton this weekend?


News & Views

Knights Gig Up For Grabs

Fresh from the announcement he'll be leaving the Sea Eagles after 28 years ...

Anderson Destroys Australia

Jimmy Anderson has snared the best figures of his Ashes career to help roll ...

Morning Update 30/07/2015

England moved to 3-133 before rain delayed the opening day of the third Ash ...

Toovs Takes the High Road

Sacked Manly coach Geoff Toovey puts on a brave face; and Will McCloy takes ...

A Horse Named Arrrrr

A race caller makes the best of a bad situation given that the race feature ...

Carlton Need New Regime

Who should coach Carlton next season? Which players should the Blues target ...

Three Reasons England Are Done

We asked former Test Spinner to come up with three reasons England are no l ...

This is Poor Behaviour

We don't have all the details about the incident involving the Fifita broth ...

Swann Impersonates KP

Graeme Swann has mocked his former England teammate Kevin Pietersen whilst ...

Radio Spat Over Goodes

Former Hawthorn legend Dermott Brereton was forced to defend comments he'd ...


Clubhouse Blogs