Jimmy Anderson swaps the wicket for the oche



In his first challenge as a Thomas Cook Sport ambassador, the #JimmyDoes campaign took the cricket star out of his comfort zone as he went head-to-head in a nine-dart challenge against one lucky supporter during the PDC’s visit to Manchester earlier this month.

With current PDC professional, Stephen Bunting, on hand to offer tips and training ahead of the sporting showdown, record-breaking bowler Jimmy switched the wicket and a ball temporarily for darts and a board and took on winning fan, Chris Ford, at a nine-dart challenge.

Taking place across Thomas Cook Sport’s social media channels, the first #JimmyDoes voting campaign pitted the LTA vs the PDC, with darts coming out on top with 69% of the vote. With one voter getting the opportunity to take Jimmy on at the winning sport, Chris stepped up to the Oche for a one-on-one showdown. By close of play, it was the England cricket star who walked away with a 262 – 211 victory.

Jimmy Anderson, Thomas Cook Sport brand ambassador, commented: “It feels good to have the opening #JimmyDoes challenge and first victory under my belt! It was great to get some tips and hints from Stephen, he certainly helped take my game to the next level ahead of my match with Chris.

“Keep an eye on Thomas Cook Sports’ social channels for the next #JimmyDoes vote and you could be taking me on during my next sporting challenge!”

Check out the first #JimmyDoes video here: #JIMMYDOESDARTS

For more information on packages with Thomas Cook Sport, please visit https://www.thomascooksport.com or call  01733 224 834.

London Marathon 2018 – Common Running Injuries



Over 300,000 people applied to take part in this year’s London Marathon, and of those 40,000 people will be running the 26 mile stretch across the capital.  Around 58% of those competing, have never run a marathon before, but will be valiantly pushing themselves to run for fun, charity or health reasons.
The wide range in abilities and disabilities of runners also determines the chances of injuries during or after the race.  A medical specialist team will be on hand to support the participants in the event of any strain or injury but in the event that those taking part only feel discomfort or anything unusual when they arrive home, we asked Mr Harold Nwaboku, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon of Total Orthopaedics at Highgate Private Hospital to give us a breakdown of the most common injuries suffered as a result of such a long distance trek and how to spot those symptoms:-
What is iliotibial band syndrome?
Iliotibial band syndrome is a recognised problem in runners which can surface at this time of preparation for the London Marathon.  The iliotibial band runs from the hip region to the knee and its function includes movement of the knee.  This injury arises from overuse when the band becomes inflamed, which can hamper the training programme of runners.
What are the symptoms and who is susceptible to this injury?
Pain and sometimes swelling on their outer side of the knee.  It can often become very painful and difficult to run, but the pain subsides as soon as you stop. Athletes who do repetitive forward motion exercises for extended periods of time, most commonly including long distance runners, cyclists, and gym goers who perform repeated squats.
How do you test for this injury?
You can self-test by bending the affected knee whilst standing, you feel pain on the outside when the knee bends.  Touching the outer side of the knee will also elicit the pain, and an ultrasound or MRI will reveal the inflamed site.
What are the treatment options?
Most patients will respond well to rest or change in activities.  Physiotherapy assessment and treatment is also an option which can assist with recovery.  If rest or physiotherapy do not help, an Orthopaedic referral and assessment is the next recommended course of action.  Steroid or Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections can offer pain relief.  Surgery is usually a last resort when all the non-operative options are unsuccessful
Patella tendinitis (Runner’s Knee)
What is patella tendinitis?
Patella tendinitis is commonly known as ‘runner’s knee’.  It is a common cause of anterior knee pain which occurs at the front and centre of the knee, where the tendon attaches to the bone.  The pain is often constant and can negatively affect the motion and motivation of the individual. 
What are the symptoms and who can be susceptible to this injury?
You will experience a dull or sharp pain under the knee cap while running, kneeling and climbing stairs.  Pain can also occur after sitting for long periods of time.  Knee instability is also common, leading to the knee giving way or falling. Individuals involved in running and jumping sports, and the condition is found to be more common in females.
How do you test for this injury?
The act of squatting is a common test, in addition to touching along the patella tendon from where the pain starts and ends.
What are the treatment options?
Assessment of footwear and of the training equipment can aid in preventing patella tendinitis, in addition to maintaining a healthy body weight.  Physiotherapy can help aid recovery as well as activity changes.   The RICE regimen may be recommended to calm inflammation: rest, ice, compression and elevation.  Steroid or Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections can offer pain relief.  Surgery is usually a last resort when all the non-operative options are unsuccessful.
Hip stress fracture
What is a hip stress fracture?
It is a fracture of the top part of the femur (hip bone).  It occurs when there is repeated stress to the bone over time and can occur in high mileage runners and those training for a marathon.  At the start of this condition there is a small crack, which can lead ultimately to the fracture of the hip if left untreated.  While it is a rare cause of hip pain, it should be ruled out to prevent further injury.
Who can be susceptible to this injury?
Athletes who take up running and jumping sports, who repeatedly put pressure and stress onto the hip.  When stress to the bone is applied repetitively, it can cause an overuse injury like a hip stress fracture.  In addition to runners, gymnasts, ballet dancers, and power walkers and marchers can also experience this injury.
How do you test for this injury?
The condition may be suspected after learning of a patient’s history.  Rotation of the hip will be tested and could lead to further investigations like imaging scans being needed.  X-rays may not reveal anything visible for several weeks, so an MRI scan will likely be recommended as it is the most sensitive and specific test for this condition. 
What are the treatment options?
Orthopaedic referral and assessment is recommended if a hip fracture is suspected.  Rest and protection from weight bearing, so repetitive activity will need to be stopped.  Bed rest will be recommended in cases of severe pain, but surgery will only be recommended for cases with two complete hip fractures.
For more information or to assess any strain or injuries, please contact Total Orthopaedics at Highgate Private Hospital on https://totalorthopaedics.london/ or call 020 8108 3798

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) celebrates an historic landmark



The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) today celebrates an historic and landmark moment in the founding of professional tennis as global stars mark 50 years since the very first Open Era Tournament.

On April 22 1968, the British Hard Court Championships – held at West Hants Club in the English seaside town of Bournemouth – became the first of 12 Open tournaments for the year sanctioned by the then International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF). The tournament marked the birth of modern-day professional tennis and led to today’s multi-million dollar global industry defined by Grand Slam events and superstar athletes.

Fifty years ago, the first Open Era titles were won by Australia’s Ken Rosewall and Britain’s Virginia Wade, who took home the first ever prize money breakdowns recorded on a draw sheet – the men’s title with £1000 and the women’s £300.

Virginia Wade OBE, who won 55 singles titles including three grand slams singles titles, said: “Bournemouth and the West Hants Tennis Club have a very special place in my heart, being born there. The British Hard Courts (although the surface was shale) was the first of the early tournaments that all the players got excited about and it meant even more to me in 1968 to win the first event of the Open Era.

“It’s amazing when we think of the global phenomenon tennis has become over the last 50 years and we should be very proud that British Tennis had the courage to make it all happen.” 

Wade went onto win the US Open, Australian and Wimbledon over the course of her 18-year career.

Ken Rosewall, who won 133 career titles including eight Grand Slams, added: “I can’t believe it’s been 50 years. The British Hard Court Championships always had a lot of history there and we were all impressed with how big that event was and a lot of surprising results. I remember there were the top Brit players led by Mark Cox and the leading Pros from the National Tennis League of which I was one. It was very exciting to play there in April 1968, it was my first time and as it turned out the last. Rod [Laver] and I played off in the final, which was delayed by rain and I was glad to win in four sets. 

“Nowadays the game has grown so much, and in all sports, the players are well compensated. It was great that Herman David from Wimbledon and the LTA in Britain had the vision to bring the amateurs and the pros together. The changes have been fantastic for tennis helping the sport become more international. The Olympics has also helped that a lot and the top players in the world are much more international not just the Aussies, the Americans and the Brits as it was back then.”

It was when the legendary Australian champion Rod Laver agreed to turn pro in 1962, with some of his fellow pros under contract to Jack Kramer, including Rosewall, helping to fund it, that the ILTF realised that a review of the current rules were inevitable. Those who did turn up were banned from playing in the four major tournaments (Australia, France, Wimbledon and the United States). Laver, who had won all four major championships in 1962, did not play in the majors again until 1968.

This historic seachange in tennis took place following an impassioned speech from the LTA’s Councillor for Kent, Derek Penman, at the Lawn Tennis Association’s AGM at The Queen’s Club on December 14, 1967. Tennis was traditionally an amateur sport with only a few turning professional – usually the best amateur of each year. Prompted by the protests by professionals against the many competitors, who pretended to be amateurs, while accepting under-the-table payments, in a process branded ‘shamaterusim’.

Penman’s speech resulted in unanimous AELTC support, which the then Chairman of Wimbledon, Herman David stated “it must be constitutional”. Once the LTA had passed a motion for an open Wimbledon in 1968 LTA Chairman Derek Hardwick then proposed that Britain should abolish the distinction between amateur and professional players at British tournaments.

With support from Herman David, Hardwick & Penman sought to gain international support over the next three months and travelled around the world garnering support from the US and other nations. After an emergency meeting of ILTF member nations in Paris on March 30 1968, Open tournaments were sanctioned, and the British Hard Court Championships was the first to be played in this era.

The LTA is celebrating their pioneering role and legacy in the forming of professional tennis by welcoming Tim Henman, players from the first Open Era tournament in 1968 including Sue Mappin, Frances McLennan, John Clifton and John Paish and future stars of British Tennis to an event on 29 April 2018. The event will commemorate the role the LTA and West Hants Club together played in paving the way for professional tennis across the globe. Former British No.1 Henman will play an exhibition doubles match with fellow former British professionals Miles Maclagan, John Feaver & John Paish, there will also be a match between the former British professionals and junior players from West Hants on the day.

This year also marks a number of other notable landmarks in the history of tennis, including the 130thanniversary of the founding of the LTA and the 40thanniversary of the first-ever BBC broadcast of the Eastbourne International – which saw Martina Navratilova beat Chris Evert two weeks ahead of her maiden Wimbledon title. 2018 will also mark the 40thconsecutive year the BBC have televised the Queen’s Club Championships, which started in 1979.

To find out more about the Open Era and the evolution of tennis in the past 50 years, visit https://www.lta.org.uk/news/general-news/2018/april/open-era-british-tennis-celebrates-50th-anniversary-of-the-open-era

New card system for Football Fans



  • Fortress has joined forces with Global Processing Services and Wirecard to launch ‘The One Card’, an all in one season ticket and member card with contactless payment functionality
  • Season ticket holders can use the contactless technology to enter stadium and make fast and easy payments at the POS or online
  • New solution will help reduce queues and waiting times across some of the world’s most renown names in the sports industry
London – January 2018: Fortress GB, whose card base is currently 7.5 million, have joined forces with Global Processing Services (GPS) and Wirecard to launch this first integrated contactless stadium season ticket card to the UK sports market. Season ticket holders and members can use The One Card to gain entry to the stadium whilst using the same card for purchases at selected merchants at the point of sale or online. 

Fortress GB is partner to over 130 of the world’s most prestigious and diverse sports teams and organizations, providing technology that has powered the adoption of digital ticketing and the use of RFID/NFC technology in the sports and entertainment industries, supporting game day operations and wider fan engagement activities. Fans can purchase the Season Ticket online or within the app, via the clubs’ existing integrated ticketing platform. The contactless season card will cut down waiting times and reduce queues for fans during all important matches throughout the season. Fans can choose to pay with the membership card and in future purely digital with a new smartphone app for quick and convenient, contactless payment.
Duncan Martin, Development Consultant at Fortress comments: “We carried out an extensive search for partners that understood the strategic aims of our company, along with the challenges presented by working in the sports stadium environment – this resulting in selecting the most relevant partners Global Processing Services (GPS) and Wirecard to launch The One Card.” 
Suresh Vaghjiani, Managing Director at Global Processing Services comments:“Fortress GB has a long-standing reputation of working with the world’s most prestigious football teams and now with the launch of The One Card, they are creating a new customer experience that will further enhance the bond between fans and the football club by providing added convenience with an all-in-one proposition.”

Asseterum to sponsor the 2018 World Seniors Snooker Championship



We are delighted to announce Asseterum Crypto Currency as the Main sponsor for 2018 World Seniors Championships which will be held at The Baths Hall in Scunthorpe between the 20th and 24th March 2018.

Assetereum is a Yorkshire based company who have had huge success in the utilities and online shopping sector, 1986 World Snooker Champion Joe Johnson is an advisor to the board
and they are keen to make their crypto currency affordable for anyone. You can own some of their crypto coin for as little as £10 when it launches tomorrow.

As well as being the title sponsor they are awarding 10,000 Assetereum crypto currency coins to the winner and 5000 to the runner up. They will also multiply the highest break made at the
championships by 30 and convert that into their crypto currency coin.

Jason Francis, creator of the World Seniors Snooker Tour said

“delighted to have Assetereum on board, to my knowledge the first global sporting event that has been sponsored by a crypto currency. The addition of their coins to the prize fund could see this grow to be the largest snooker prize ever!”

Andy Papaiacovou, CEO, said

“We are delighted to be the sponsors of such a fantastic event and hope this is just the beginning of a long term association with the World Seniors Snooker Tour. I have been an avid snooker fan since childhood and I am looking forward to seeing these great legends of the game battle it out again”

Stephen Hendry said

“I’d like to welcome Assetereum as our title sponsor for the World Seniors Championships in Scunthorpe. It’s the first time a crypto currency has been added to the winner’s prize. I wish them all the best with their launch tomorrow”

The winner of the Asseterum World Seniors title gets £10,000, 5000 crypto coins and a place in the 2018 World Professional Snooker Championship Qualifiers where they are 3 matches from
the Crucible.

To find out about Assetereum and see how you can own some crypto coin for as little as £10 go to

#worldseniorstour #daretodream

Live Streaming Industry Cashing in on China’s Billiard Boom



For example, during the 5th Joy Cup World Chinese 8-Ball Maters Grand Final this Jan. 10th-16th, six billiards related streamers successfully made their way into the Weekly Top 10 List of China’s Sports Event Streamers, and their total highest real-time viewer count hit 718.6 thousand, as recorded by zbrank.com, a professional statistics analyzer which collects and publishes data from China’s mainstream live streaming platforms.

 Weekly Top 100 Sports Event Streamer Breakdown by Genres (Jan. 9-15, 2017)

Sports Streamer Percentage Total Followers Follower Percentage
Basketball 30% 462 691 42.38%
Billiards 29% 311 316 28.52%
Football 25% 223 681 20.49%
Chess & Cards 7% 30 487 2.79%
Badminton 2% 35 400 3.24%
Boxing 2% 10 026 0.92%
Tennis 2% 8 237 0.75%
Volleyball 2% 2 820 0.26%
Other 1% 7 093 0.65%

Date source: zbrank.com

It is widely believed that in the close future, Billiards, Basketball and Football will become the three pillars of China’s sports event streaming business. To lay claim to this burgeoning market, live streaming platforms are now vying to acquire streaming rights of high-profile billiards events.

For example, in mid December, 2017, by collaborating with Joy, China’s top billiards table maker, Panda.tv successfully purchased the streaming rights of valuable billiards events throughout 2018 held by high-end billiards clubs nationwide, covering over 20 major billiards provinces, including Guangdong, Fujian, Hunan, Hubei, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and etc. Billiards enthusiasts are also welcome to stream small billiards contests around them under Panda.tv’s newly added Billiards Category.

Suffice to say, there are still many potentials in China’s billiards market waiting for you to tap! If you want to size these unprecedented business opportunities, please don’t hesitate to sign up for the 12th China Guangzhou International Billiards Exhibition (GBE 2018), the world’s most professional billiards trade show held in China! Hurry up and contact Amy at gbeexpo@yeah.net to get your free E-ticket.

World Chinese 8-ball



The World Chinese 8-ball Masters is about to make its extraordinary marks in 2017 at the end of the season. Since the inception in 2006 and evolution as an international pool event in 2012, the World Chinese 8-ball Masters has been progressed through thick and thin. Remarkably in 2018 its grand prize for champion will skyrocket to CNY¥1,000,000, the highest of all time in view of the initial prize funds of CNY¥8,000! The 6th World Chinese 8-ball Masters in 2018, is set to be the most competitive edition!
Please also note that the China Finals of 6th World Chinese 8-ball Masters will take place during Dec.27, 2017Jan. 12, 2018. More than 297 players from more than 40 countries spread across six continents will travel to the Northeast Chinese City of Qinghuangdao scrambling to take a slice of the total prize fund as high as CNY¥1,000,000!
In spite of the jaw-dropping prize, the change of competition rules of World Chinese 8-ball Masters has also hit the headlines! Players, fans of billiards, and media were brought together to perform panel discussion of rules amendment. The details of rules improved are still waited to be reported!

Is Mo Farah the UK’s Sports Personality of 2017?



The surprise announcement raises the question; who was truly the most influential sportsperson of 2017? Sports marketing agency Exposure has conducted research to answer this question.

Jamie Vardy and Sam Warburton are the most influential figures in UK sport, says new study

Only 50% of the top 20 is composed of active sportspeople

Inclusion of social media influencers shows changing face of UK sport

20% of the top 10 is female

New research has revealed the top twenty most influential Brits when it comes to encouraging people to attend, play, watch or engage with sport in the UK. Joint top of the list are Leicester City footballer Jamie Vardy and Welsh Rugby Union star Sam Warburton.

The research, carried out by creative communications agency Exposure, showed that rugby influencers and those involved in athletics and swimming are as well-represented as high profile footballers. As well as current sportspeople, the list includes Olympic gold medallist Dame Jessica Ennis (No.7) and former players and TV commentators like Gary Lineker (No.10) – and the heads of major sporting bodies such as the FA and the RFU.

Other major influencers are YouTube channel Copa90 (No.11), fitness coach and author Joe Wicks (No.12) and social media personality Spencer FC (No.13). Only half the top 20 is composed of sportspeople active in their field, showing the surprising diversity of people that are able to effectively influence how the British public engage with sport in this country.

The research employed a unique analysis tool to identify the 250 biggest names in UK sport and examine each person’s online influence through social media platforms like Twitter, offline influence such as appearances in books, newspapers and on TV and their personal ‘brand value’ based upon their current level of public interest, recent scandals and any charity initiatives that they are involved in.

The Top 20 most influential figures in UK sport:

Name Name Sport/Role Position
Sam Warburton Rugby 1=
Jamie Vardy Football 1=
Adam Peaty Swimming 3
Owen Farrell Rugby 4
Gareth Thomas Rugby presenter 5
Tom Daley Diving 6
Dame Jessica Ennis Athletics commentator 7
Marcus Rashford Football 8
Dame Katherine Grainger Chair, UK Sport 9
Gary Lineker BBC Sports presenter 10
Copa90 YouTube 11
Joe Wicks Social media influencer 12
Spencer FC YouTube 13
Harry Kane Football 14
Ian Ritchie Rugby – CEO of RFU 15
Andy Murray Tennis 16
Gareth Bale Football 17
Baroness Grey-Thompson Member of the House of Lords, Board Member of London Legacy Development Corporation 18
Justin Rose Golf 19
Martin Glenn Football – CEO of FA 20

The research demonstrates how influencers come from a wide range of sports, including rugby, swimming and golf, and not just the usual suspects like football.

There are people from the world of sport that wield an extraordinary level of influence and they aren’t necessarily the big names that sponsors automatically seek out. Organisation heads like Dame Katherine Grainger (No.9) and Ian Ritchie (No.15) also rank highly, due to their ability to affect every aspect of sporting life from grassroots development to international play. TV presenters and commentators are still the recognisable face of UK sport to those who watch sport on TV.

Andy Jephson, head of sport & culture at Exposure, comments: “Some of the ‘traditional’ big names of UK sport have been surpassed by players who fans have a closer connection to. From Jamie Vardy’s rise from the lower leagues to the emergence of young British stars like Marcus Rashford, our research suggests that football fans are looking for players who are authentic and real.”

While sportspeople dominate the top 20, the power of social media has changed the parameters of influence in UK Sport. Andy Jephson commented: “It’s incredible to see Joe Wicks, Spencer FC (Spencer Owen) and Copa90 in the top 20 as it is evidence of the democratisation of sport, where there are now opportunities for people outside of the establishment to get involved in the sports that they love.”

There are also signs that women’s sport is becoming more influential in the UK. The fact that only 15% of the top 20 is comprised of women might on first glance appear to reinforce traditional gender imbalances in sport. Women represent 20% of the top 10 and 250 most influential people in UK sport – when viewed in context of the scale of men’s sport and how established it is, this figure can be seen as evidence that the influence of women upon UK sport is growing.


Exposure used its unique scoring system to find the UK’s most influential figures in sports, focusing on those who can influence people to participate/engage with sports – whether that be through attending games, watching games at home or in the pub, buying merchandise, following their every move online, or participating in the sport itself.

The research factored in each person’s online influence, offline influence and their brand value (i.e. is there public interest in them, any recent scandals, are they ambassadors of a charity or perhaps have their own charity etc.). The extensive list analysed over 250 people involved in UK sports including athletes, presenters, journalists, social media influencers and publications.

More detail on the research:

The research included more than 2,000 individual measurements split into three equally-weighted categories, including:

Online: Presence; frequency and quality of content; number of followers; engagement; and objectives of their social media channels.

Offline: Ability to affect the laws; number of people currently participating in their sport; increase or decrease in people participating in their sport; appearance in offline channels such as books and TV; and how often the sport is covered in mainstream media.

Brand Strength: Whether they are international, national or local champions in their sport; recent performance compared to expectations; public interest in them increasing or decreasing; involvement with charitable causes, be it face of a campaign or spokesperson for change in their own sport; recent involvement in any scandals, both personal and professional; and if they are considered inspirational or ground-breaking in their area.

FIFA’s General Secretary



Famous football players and the Secretary General of the International Football Federation (FIFA) joined RT for an exclusive interview about their impressions of Russia on the eve of the final draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Hosting the special RT coverage will be football legend from Man Utd Peter Schmeichel and Liverpool’s former striker Stan Collymore.

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura talked to RT about her visit to Russia for the Confederations Cup in 2017: “I really was fascinated by the level of commitment by local authorities, and more importantly, by the warm welcome…When I came for the first time in Russia it was in July last year. One month after my assignment. And definitely like every African person I was just fearing to be treated differently. I was ready also to help people think about Africa and Africans differently. But as we speak, I’ve been here for at least 20 times altogether. I haven’t suffered any racial issues.”

Marcel Desailly, famous French footballer for club teams Milan and Chelsea and the French national team, praised the level of preparation for the World Cup in Russia during an exclusive interview with RT. “FIFA have put enough pressure on the Russian organization to have a very good World Cup. About the crowd, no worries. People will come. People will enjoy it. People will know that they are secure on the various FIFA fun part we are going to have all over the various cities. We are quite confident about a great World Cup. The only thing we don’t know is how the team is going to entertain us during the game.”

The legendary football player for Barcelona and the Spanish national team Carles Puyol, who will participate in the draw ceremony, discussed with RT his expectations for the final part of the championship: “I am very happy to be here; I am glad of this opportunity to participate. To experience the World Cup from the inside is a wonderful experience. We’ll see what happens to us. This year the Spanish team has a very good line-up, and it is a favorite of mine. Of course, the surprise absence of Italy is a historic event. Great country with an excellent team and a long football tradition, but, unfortunately, they failed to qualify. Sweden also has a great team, and I think they will be performing at a high level.”

Leading the special coverage of the draw for the 2018 World Cup on RT will be journalist Neil Harvey and legendary Danish footballer and former goalkeeper for England’s Manchester United club Peter Schmeichel. Guests of the special studio located in the heart of Moscow will be football stars, representatives of FIFA and sports experts. Ex-striker for Liverpool and England’s national team, commentator and football expert Stan Collymore, who hosts the RT program “The Stan Collymore Show,” will provide exclusive commentary directly from the draw ceremony set to begin at 18:00 Moscow time inside the Kremlin.

Latin American football legend and the record holder for the number of matches played on Colombia’s national team, Carlos Valderrama, will be leading the special coverage of the draw on RT Spanish.

RT is also launching a special multimedia project dedicated to the 2018 World Cup. The site, available in Russian, English, Spanish and Arabic, will provide the schedule of the matches, information on the teams’ players, current standings, as well as news, exclusive interviews and analysis. During the tournament, visitors will find live broadcasts of the matches, as well as reports by RT correspondents.

RT is a global TV news network that broadcasts 24/7 in English, Arabic and Spanish from its studios in Moscow, Washington, DC, and London. 70 million people in 38 countries watch RT channels every week. 35 million – watch RT daily; RT is among the top-5 most watched international TV news channels in the US, with a weekly audience of more than 8 million viewers (Ipsos). It is also the most watched TV news network on YouTube with more than 5 billion views. RT is the winner of the Monte Carlo TV Festival Award for best 24-hr broadcast, and the only Russian TV channel to be a five-time Emmy finalist for news programming.

Can Tiger Woods return?



Tiger Woods has recently announced that he will be returning to competitive golf in time for the PGA Hero World Challenge 2017. 

The news is in light of Woods’ absence from competitive golf since 2015 following a back injury which resulted in a series of surgical intervention and pain medication.

Initially, Woods began complaining of lower back spasms during his rounds whilst competing which previously impacted on his performance since 2015.  However, it wasn’t until April 2017 that he announced that he had just undergone ‘successful back surgery to alleviate ongoing pain in his back and leg’.  The announcement went on to explain that his bottom lower-back disc severely narrowed, causing sciatica and severe back and leg pain.  The surgery involved removing the damaged disc and re-elevating the collapsed disc space to normal levels allowing the one vertebrae to heal to the other.  

Tiger Woods recently underwent a practise round of gold with Patrick Reed, a former WGC Cadillac champion.  Reed evaluates that ‘this time he was fully committed and fully trusting his body that there would be no pain.  If he says healthy and his body cooperates the way it is supposed to, he’ll be back to playing golf, hopefully like he used to play”.

In light of the news, we have conducted a Q&A session with Mr Bob Chatterjee of Harley Street Spine and Highgate Private Hospital to determine whether Woods’ back will have recovered sufficiently to perform in the Hero World Challenge at his optimum level prior to any back injury.

Is lower back pain and even Sciatica a condition that is common for those who regularly or competitively play golf?

Almost certainly. A professional golfers swing can put significant strain on the lower back of a golfer. The lumbar disc is able to withstand compression well, but less able to withstand the twisting or torsion generated whilst creating a coil in the golfer’s upswing. The acceleration then unleashed in the downswing magnifies the generated torque applied to the disc causing repetitive injury to the disc.

Wood’s recent surgery involved removing the damaged disc and re-aligning the remaining discs.  What method / technique would the surgeon have likely used to do this?

Tiger would have had a lumbar fusion done on this third occasion. The first two surgeries involved removing disc fragments that had burst free from his lowest lumbar disc and pressed upon the nerve. Although this was initially successful, the difficulty was that when you’ve lost disc material as a result of a slipped disc, the body has no way of regenerating the lost disc. Eventually this leads to thinning of the disc. The disc is normally a filler between two vertebrae. The loss of disc height means that the vertebrae move closer to each other. The nerve which normally leaves the spinal column via a route between the vertebrae then gets pinched as the vertebrae are now closer together. In this situation, the disc height needs to be restored and Tiger has had a metal hollow cage implanted between the vertebrae after the remaining disc was scooped out. The hollow cage contains artificial bone which eventually after a few months grows into the vertebra above and below therefore linking them together with living bone. The is called a ALIF (anterior lumbar interbody fusion). One big advantage to Tiger is that this is placed through a frontal approach to the spine, going by the side of the abdominal contents. This therefore avoids further damage to the muscles of Tiger’s back which were causing him spasms. It is interesting, that even though he was at a centre for disc replacement, a fusion was performed rather than a lumbar disc replacement, although in my opinion that was the correct decision.

Will Woods be able to perform to his optimum level as he did previous to this injury? 

To a degree. The back never returns to 100%, but it doesn’t need to. With his swing coach, Tiger has reconstructed his swing to lessen the torque/twisting being applied to his lower back and is relying on timing as much as power. As Sir Nick Faldo once said ‘don’t hit it harder, hit it better…). Provided he is pain free and comfortable in his movements, he should be able to return as a serious contender. Although at his level of sport, the mental side of recovering from injury is as important.

Is there a likely chance that the injury could happen again?

Not at the lowest level, as the disc has been removed entirely. However, once you’ve had a disc prolapse in one area, the risk is slightly increased that it could occur again in another part of the spine.

What are the new methods/techniques that are currently available for an injury such as this?

There are newly available disc augmentation techniques that can be implanted into a disc. These implants then absorb water to swell the disc up to try to restore the lost disc height. They are injectable, so don’t involve major surgery, and early results from Germany are promising. But they need to be used before the disc degenerates too far.