The sporting polymaths
1. CB Fry Cricket/Football/Athletics/Rugby Union
You’ve probably never heard of Charles Burgess Fry – in your defence, he was born in 1872 and died more than 50 years ago – but as sporting crossovers go, his is arguably our all-time favourite. Not content with equalling the world long jump record in 1893, Fry also played play three times for the Barbarians rugby side and appeared in a total of 18 football matches for Southampton and Portsmouth – including the 1902 FA Cup final – and once for England. Cricket was his main game, though. Fry played 394 first- class matches and appeared in 26 Tests for his country, captaining them on several occasions, and even tried to convince Hitler’s Foreign Minister that Nazi Germany should take up Test cricket. A shame – stopping the Third Reich is about the only thing that could have improved his CV.
2. Sarah Storey Swimming/Cycling
She tore up the track and road events on her bike during London’s Paralympic extravaganza, but Sarah’s stor[e]y actually began in the pool. In fact, she first appeared at the Paralympics way back in 1992, when the 14-year-old stormed to two golds, three silvers and one bronze across various 100m, 200m and 400m events. Having collected 10 further swimming medals (three gold) at Atlanta, Sydney and Athens, Storey swapped water for wheels in 2005 and collected two golds in Beijing and four more in London. That’s 22 medals in two different sports across six Games. Of course, Storey has a male copycat, with Jody Cundy winning Paralympic swimming medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004 before achieving cycling success in Beijing and London. We’ll always remember him for that hissy fit, though.
3. Sir George Thomas, 7th Baronet Badminton/Chess/Tennis
This one’s a bit tough. Can you include chess as a real sport? And are badminton and tennis not a bit too similar to each other for inclusion? On the flip side, Thomas was twice British chess champion, so it’s not like it was a mere hobby, and he made the semi finals of the men’s doubles at Wimbledon and won 21 All-England badminton championships. Heck, badminton’s Davis Cup equivalent is even named after the man. He was the inaugural member of the Badminton Hall of Fame. And he’s a baronet, too. Right, we’re going to include him. Although you probably worked that out by now.
4. Rebecca Romero Rowing/Cycling
Now, we're not saying cycling is easy, but there is an alarming trend of athletes turning to two wheels for further glory in our list, with Sarah Storey, Jody Cundy and now Romero. Having won a silver medal at Athens in 2004 and been part of the crew that won the World Championships in 2005, Romero was forced to quit rowing because of a back injury. So she took up cycling, going on to win a World Championships silver medal in 2007 and then gold at Beijing in 2008 – thus becoming the second woman ever to win a medal in two different sports at the summer Games. But it was only in cycling. Anyone can do that (apparently).