It’s well-known that athletes believe in rituals. Whether you currently are or were an athlete, you can probably think of something specific you did before every game, meet or race. Rituals may not even have to do with following a specific routine but simply wearing your lucky socks or outfit. And Olympians are no different than any other athlete when it comes to these traditions.
Everyone has been glued to their televisions watching the Rio Olympics and people may have noticed a strange occurrence. Santo Condorelli, an Olympic swimmer from Canada, has been flipping the bird before his races. But it’s not what you think. The 21-year-old athlete isn’t flipping the bird to the entire Olympic Aquatics Stadium. Condorelli is just following a ritual he has been doing since he was 8-years-old.
The ritual was created by Condorelli’s father, Joseph, in good spirit. “You’ve got to build your confidence yourself and say ‘eff everybody else that you’re racing.'” Condorelli said to The Canadian Press, explaining his father’s theory. “He said ‘Every time you’re behind the blocks, give me the finger and I’ll give it back to you.'”
It’s the first Olympics for Condorelli, who was picked for the amazing games earlier this year by the Canadian team. The Portland-raised athlete took part in the Men’s 4x100m freestyle relay, with his teammates Yuri Kisil, Markus Thormeyer and Evan Van Moerkerke, this past Sunday. The Canadian team came in seventh. Condorelli is scheduled to go back in the water on Tuesday for the 100-meter freestyle and then on Thursday for the 50-meter free.
The young athlete, who was actually born in Japan, is aware of his ritual upsetting others and he’s modified it for the Rio Olympics. “I’m not trying to piss people off. I just put it in the middle of my forehead now,” Condorelli explained. “My dad is definitely giving it to me and I can see him from a mile away.”
On the other hand, Condorelli’s father won’t be modifying his hand gesture for anyone at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. “It’s a communication between him and I to calm down and get ready. Racing is about being at peace,” Joseph explained. “It became a good ritual for both of us. He got a lot of his aggravation out with just a really simple ‘Give it to the world’ rather than keep it internalized. It calms him down on the blocks for sure.”
The Olympic athlete became serious about competing in Rio after putting a stop to partying at the University of Southern California. Condorelli then went onto hiring coach Coley Stickels. All eyes are on the unique athlete after beating Michael Phelps for silver in the 100 butterfly event in the U.S. last November.
[H/T: Daily Mail]