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Game changers: 7 athletes who played multiple sports during their careers

Why be good at one sport when you can play two or more?

BRITAIN’S UP-AND-COMING discus star Lawrence Okoye announced this week that he was quitting the sport to focus on pursuing an NFL career, despite never playing football in his life.

He’s not the first sports person to consider a change of career, but some have been more successful than others.

We take a look at those who’ve been a hit and those who are probably sorry they even considered a change.

Michael Jordan – Basketball and baseball

Image: MARK ELIAS/AP/Press Association Images

Jordan may have been the greatest basketball player to ever play the game but his baseball was well below the standard required to make it in the big leagues. He eventually decided his place was in the NBA and returned to basketball after an unsuccessful stint with the Chicago White Sox affiliated Birmingham Barons.

Ian Botham – Cricket and football

Image: PA Photos/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The cricket all-rounder made 11 appearances for Scunthorpe United as a striker and also enjoyed 17 games with Yeovil Town. However, Beefy was always far more comfortable facing Australian tail-enders than he was football league defenders.

Rebecca Romero – Rowing and cycling

Image: Barry Batchelor/PA Archive/Press Association Images

One of the most successful switchers of all time, Romero picked up a silver medal in the quadruple sculls during the Athens Olympics in 2004 before winning gold in cycling’s individual pursuit four years later in Beijing.

Dwain Chambers – Athletics and rugby league

Image: JON SUPER/AP/Press Association Images

After a failed drug test put his sprinting career on hold, Chambers first tried his hand at American football with the Hamburg Sea Devils before switching to rugby league  with the Castleford Tigers. Despite playing in a reserve game, he was not offered a contract by the club.

Teddy McCarthy – Football and hurling

Image: INPHO

The man won two All-Irelands in a fortnight, what did you do during the past two weeks?

Sonny Bill Williams – Rugby and boxing

Image: Ross Land/AP/Press Association Images

Capped 19 times by the All Blacks, Williams holds a perfect record in the ring with six wins from six. However, some of his fights have been steeped in controversy with his last encounter shortened from 12 to 10 rounds without his opponent’s knowledge.

Deion Sanders – Football and baseball

Image: BILL KOSTROUN/AP/Press Association Images

Perhaps the most high-profile and successful athlete on this list, Sanders was a phenomenal student athlete and ended up being drafted by both the MLB’s New York Yankees and NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. Not only is he the only man to ever compete in both a Super Bowl and World Series, he is also the only athlete to hit a home run and touchdown in the same week.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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