The Rundown

Top 10 sporting all-rounders

The Rundown

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Olympic 100m champion and world record holder Usain Bolt has revealed that he would love to make the switch from athletics to football - and that he's desperate to one day play for Manchester United.

"I really want to try soccer after I retire," said the Jamaican.

"I think I could be a good contender. I'm really looking forward to it and yes, I definitely think I'm good enough to play for Manchester United."

So to help inspire the sprinter towards his unlikely dream, we've trawled the archives for our top 10 all-rounders, the men and women who've managed to hit the top in more than one sport.

 - - - - -


CB Fry - Cricket,
football, athletics and rugby

Charles Burgess 'CB' Fry was as great an all-rounder as the
world has ever seen. He represented England at both cricket and football in the
late 19th and early 20th centuries, played for
Southampton in the FA Cup final in 1902 - played rugby for the Barbarians, and equalled
the world record for the long jump. Cricket was his top sport, however - and
needless to say, he was an all-rounder. He once took 6-78 with his fast bowling,
had a high score of 258 not out in first class cricket.

It wasn't just in sport that Fry personified the peculiarly
English cult of the generalist, however: he was also an accomplished writer and
teacher, a successful publisher, a cricket commentator, an adviser to the Indian
delegation in the League of Nations, and once claimed to have been offered the throne
of Albania. For all that, what we'd most have like to have seen was his party
piece: Fry was able to leap backwards onto a mantelpiece from a standing start.


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Deion Sanders - American
football and baseball

As sporting CVs go, Sanders's is probably the best in the
history of sport. In his 16-year NFL career (stretching from 1989 to 2005) he
played American football for the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys, the
Washington Redskins, the Baltimore Ravens and the Atlanta Falcons, winning the
Super Bowl with both the 49ers and the Cowboys.

In baseball, he debuted in 1989 for the New York Yankees, then
appeared for the Atlanta Braves, the San Francisco Giants and the Cincinnati
Reds before retiring in 2001. HE nearly won the World Series in 1992, batting
an astonishing .533 average, but it was not enough as the Braves lost to the
Toronto Blue Jays.


Babe Zaharias -
Athletics and golf

America's greatest sportswoman was a basketball champion who
took up athletics - and promptly won two golds and a silver at the 1932
Olympics in the 80m hurdles, javelin and high jump.

But she was not content with proving herself one of the
great athletes of her time: after the Olympics she got into everything from
performing in Vaudeville to playing competitive pool - and then, in 1935, she
took up golf.

She immediately excelled, winning 82 tournaments around the
world - including 10 Major championships - and then famously, decided to play
on the men's tour.

She played three tournaments on the US Tour in 1945, getting
into the events through qualifiers and making two cuts with a best finish of
33rd place in the Phoenix Open.


John Surtees -
Motorcycling and Formula One

The British motor racing legend is the only man ever to be
crowned world champion in both Formula One and motorcycle racing. The son of a motorbike
dealer in the south London suburbs, he kickstarted his career on two wheels in
1952, becoming world champion four times in 500cc racing in the five years from
1956 to 1960.

In his final season in motorbikes he was simultaneously
racing cars, debuting at the 1960 Monaco Grand Prix before finishing second in
his Grand Prix at Silverstone a few weeks later. He went on to win the
championship with Ferrari in 1964 and eventually retired from top-level racing in


Bo Jackson - American
football and baseball

Injury robbed Jackson of the chance to surpass the
achievements of Deion Sanders, as hip injury in 1990 cut short his promising
NFL career after just three seasons. He was able to play baseball until 1994,
however, playing for the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and California
Angels. Incredibly, he was picked for both the baseball All-Star game and
American Football's Pro Bowl match.


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Denis Compton -
Cricket and football

One of the great figures in English sporting history,
Compton was one of cricket's greatest ever Test players. He smashed batting
records throughout a dazzling career before retiring with a Test average of over

He was also a star footballer with Arsenal for nearly 20
years, winning both the League and the FA Cup with the London club. He played for
England 12 times during the war, though a damaged knee curtailed his exploits
later in his career.

His cricket carried on unimpeded, however, though he became
as famous for his misadventures as he did for his talent. He once turned up for
a Test match against South Africa at Old Trafford without his kitbag, but
simply borrowed an antique bat from the museum at the stadium and used it to
score 155 and 79 not out.


Jeff Wilson

Though the exploits of Compton will never be seen again -
there is simply too much winter touring cricket to allow anyone to play both
sports at the very top level - nobody made a better stab at doing both in
recent years than New Zealander Wilson.

Rugby was his best sport; he represented the All Blacks 60
times between 1993 and 2002, and was at one point their record try scorer.

His brief international cricket career with the Black Caps in
the early 1990s showed plenty of promise, but the inauguration of the Super 12 rugby
tournament forced him to choose between the sports.


Luc Alphand - Skiing
and rallying

The French star became one of skiing's greatest speed demons
in the mid-1990s, winning five World Cup globes - including the downhill, super-G
and overall World Cup titles in 1997 - as well as a host of other races,
although his nerve usually tended to fail him in World Championship and Olympic

He retired from competitive skiing in 1997 at the age of 32,
but didn't give up speed: he turned instead to motor racing, racing in the Le
Mans Series and the FIA GT Championship among others before crowning his second
career with victory in the Paris-
Dakar rally in 2006. Sadly, a motorbike crash in 2009 eventually forced him to
retire from motorsport.


Jim Thorpe - Athletics,
American football, baseball and basketball

The legendary sportsman of mixed Native American and European
descent excelled in everything from lacrosse to ballroom dancing while still at
college, but it was when he went to take part in the 1912 Olympics that he
became famous. He blitzed the fields in both pentathlon and decathlon to win
gold medals, using that fame to launch a professional career on his return -
though he had to give the gold medals back when he was discovered to have been
in breach on the Games' strict rules on amateurism.

He was picked in American football's team of the decade for
the 1920s and showing his versatility by playing as a running back, defensive
runner and a kicker. At the same time he was also carrying on a baseball career
with teams including the New York Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers, and playing
professional basketball for a display match team made up of Native Americans.


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Rebecca Romero

The girl from Carshalton, Surrey, won a silver medal in the quadruple
sculls at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, but was forced to retire from rowing in
2006 after persistent back problems.

That didn't stop her sporting career, however: Romero simply
took up cycling and applied the same perseverance and dedication to it as she was
used to doing on the water. Incredibly, she won a silver medal in her first
international cycling event, the Track World Cup in Moscow in December 2006,
before becoming Olympic champion  in the
individual pursuit in Beijing in 2008.



- - - -


Honorable mentions:

Daley Thompson

Most people would think that being a decathlete is already more
than enough different sports to be getting on with, but Thompson turned out for
Mansfield and Stevenage.

Ian Botham

The legendary English cricketer was not only the greatest cricketing
all-rounder of his generation, but also a rather nifty centre-half who had been
split between cricket and football as a youngster. He made 11 league
appearances for Scunthorpe in 1980 after joining them to try and get fit after
an injury.

Roy Jones Jr

The boxing legend was mad keen on basketball and once played
a basketball game on the morning of a title fight.

Jim Brown

The man often regarded as the greatest American football
player of all time (he's the only running back to average more than 100 yards a
game) was also one of the greatest lacrosse players ever to pick up a stick.

Michael Jordan

The basketball legend packed in his first love in order to
take up professional baseball. After a shaky start he settled into Minor League
obscurity, but then delighted the world by returning to basketball - and was an
even better player for his break.

Dwain Chambers

Following the shame of his failed drugs test the British
sprinter tried to reinvent himself first as an American footballer in the NFL
Europa league, then as a rugby league player with Castleford.

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