The Rundown

The Great Eight: Sports stars’s strangest career breaks

Korean golf star Choi Jin-ho has been ordered to put his burgeoning career on hold in order to go and do 20 months national service.

The 28-year-old, who has won three times on his local tour, will be able to take part in the Nissan Cup next week (the China v rest-of-Asia equivalent of the Ryder Cup), but will then have to pack up his clubs for almost two years.

Choi refused to be downhearted despite seemingly being on the verge of a career breakthrough.

"I can't play any tournaments during my service period but I can practice as much as I want," the 28-year-old said.  "I will be free to go to driving range or gym after duty and I am off most weekends. I think with all the practice I will be doing, I could emerge even better because I will have enough time to get myself prepared for the future."

Choi is not the first star to take an unusual sabbatical from his sport - here's our pick of the top 10 weirdest sporting career breaks.

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Michael Jordan in his early days with the Chicago Bulls

Michael Jordan - took up a different sport

The basketball superstar sprang one of sport's greatest shocks in 1993 when he walked away from the sport he dominated in order to try and become a professional baseball player.

From one of sport's great heroes to something of a curiosity and even a laughing stock, the sensitive and intelligent Jordan was deeply hurt by the sneering that his hubris attracted and even wrote a book defending his actions, called 'I can't accept not trying'.

But all credit to the great man for not descending into a sort of David Icke cycle of self-justification. He simply returned to the NBA after two years out and led the Chicago Bulls to three consecutive titles for the second time in his career. He was, if anything, even better in his second incarnation than in his dazzling first.

Lester Piggott - tax evasion

The legendary jockey's enforced absence from the Sport of Kings came when he was convicted in 1987 of avoiding tax on £3.25m of income, after diverting funds from both riding and bloodstock through trading via bank accounts in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Singapore and the Bahamas between 1970 and 1985.

Piggott, 51 and having retired to become a trainer at the time of his conviction, served one year of his three year sentence. He came out and returned to riding in 1990, winning his first race within 10 days of his comeback and even going on to add to his list of Classic wins as he took the 2000 Guineas in 1992.

Jose Maria Olazabal - mystery illness

The 1993 Masters champion was one of the world's greatest golfers and at the height of his powers in 1995 when he was struck down by an extraordinary foot affliction that almost crippled him completely.

The Spaniard spent two years in constant agony, having to drag himself across the floor even to get to the bathroom, often confined to a wheelchair and was told by a succession of doctors that he would be lucky to walk normally again, much less play golf.

But a moment of pure chance saw him rescued: a German specialist called Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt saw him on TV and realised that he was suffering from a lower back problem rather than arthritis in his feet, and eventually managed to get in touch. Within weeks Olzabal was on the mend, and he recovered to win another Green Jacket at Augusta in 1999 before going on to become European Ryder Cup captain this year.

"More than once, I thought my career was over, I was not going to be able to play golf again," he said after his recovery. "To be where I am now, after what I went through, is quite remarkable."

Lauda's car after his horror smash in 1976Niki Lauda - running an airline

Nothing seemed able to stop the Austrian Formula One star in the late 1970s: he even kept on racing despite a horrific crash in 1976 that saw his head so badly burned that he fell into a coma and lost his right ear. But in 1978 he gave up motor racing to start a charter airline that he had founded, Lauda Air.

Running the business was a tough road, however: four years later, things were so tough that Lauda had to return to F1 to earn enough money to keep his baby going. That return turned out to be triumphant, however, with Lauda winning a third world title and managing to get his airline off the ground. It became a successful business and was bought out by Austrian Airlines in 2000.

George Foreman taking in Evander Holyfield in 1991, aged 42

George Foreman - Ordination as a minister

Foreman had his reputation as one of the world's greatest ever heavyweight boxers sealed by the middle of the 1970s, beating the legendary Joe Frazier in 1973 (Frazier was then the undisputed and undefeated heavyweight champion) and losing to Muhammad Ali in the famous 'Rumble in the Jungle' in Zaire a year later.

He retired after becoming very ill following a fight against Jimmy Young in 1977 - an episode which he saw as a near-death experience, and which prompted him to retire and become both a born-again Christian and an ordained minister.

Ten years later he shocked the world by returning to the ring aged 38, and after some impressive displays - including taking a peak-condition Evander Holyfield the distance in 1991 - he eventually became world champion once more by beating Michael Moorer to claim a world title at the age of 45. He floored the champ with a right hand in the 10th round while trailing badly on points.

Michael Vick - dog fighting

Michael Vick was one of the most exciting players in NFL with the Atlanta Falcons but in 2007 he was sentenced to 23 months in a federal prison after pleading guilty of financing and participating in dog fights and executions. His career was in tatters and heavy debts saw Vick filing for bankruptcy.

But in 2009 he was released from prison and showed utter repentance for his crimes. He was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as a back-up quarterback on a one-year contract in 2009 and the team picked up an option on him for another year in 2010. That season he won the starting job and once again became one of the best players in the league, being rewarded with a six-year, $100m contract that he has since woefully failed to justify as his form has gone off a cliff.

Fritz WalterFritz Walter - Second World War

Plenty of sports stars were involved in both the 20th century's world wars: Stan Matthews was a Corporal in the RAF for the entire duration, while Bert Trautmann was a highly-decorated Luftwaffe pilot.

But no sports star's war story is more incredible than that of Fritz Walter: his career as an attacking midfielder with Kaiserslauten and Germany was interrupted in 1942 when he was conscripted into the army and ended up fighting in the Nazi's ill-fated campaign in Russia. He was captured and scheduled to be sent to a Siberian work camp along with other prisoners of war.

Walter might well have ended up perishing in the Gulags, but, while in a holding camp awaiting transportation, he dazzled the guards with his skills after collecting a stray ball. He reportedly ended up turning the camp football crazy, setting up matches and even leagues - and when the time came for him to be sent East, guards saved him by persuading their superiors that he was Austrian rather than German and should not be sent to a likely death. He survived the war, returned to the game, and captained Germany to World Cup victory in 1954.

Alex Zanardi - loss of both legs

It wasn't just Alex Zanardi's career but his life that seemed to be over when he was involved in a horrific crash in 2001 - but he escaped with the loss of both legs. Yet rather than sit at home feeling sorry for himself, the Italian determined to get back behind the wheel of a racing car. Formula One and CART were both ruled out due to the difficulty of adapting the cars to hand controls only, but Zanardi raced successfully in the World Touring Car Championship for several years.

Later, and perhaps even more incredibly, he embarked on a new sporting career as a Paralypic handbike racer which saw him win two gold medals in London 2012 - an effort which has inspired our campaign to have him voted BBC Overseas Sporting Personality of the Year.