Strange Olympic rituals: observation from London
Updated : 08/07/2012 16:31 GMT + 7
Sport aficionados around the world may have noticed that many athletes tend to bite their medals after receiving them, while women’s beach volleyball players are spotted slapping their butts for victory celebration during the ongoing 2012 London Olympics.
These are just some of the weird and fun rituals observed from the event, which have provoke curiosity from viewers as to why they choose to behave that way.
Medal biting: requests from reporters
Medalists from every sport and from every country bite their medals on the podium, and the reason lying behind may take some of spectators by surprise: athletes do not do that on their own initiative, but under request from photographers.
"It's not your idea. It's the journalists…,” MercuryNews quoted Summer Sanders, who won four medals in the '92 Games as saying.
“The people taking the pictures that say 'Bite your medal! Give your medal a bite!'...So we do," the medalist revealed.
Germany's Kristina Vogel, right and teammate Miriam Welte, bite their gold medals after winning the women's team sprint track cycling event at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
While it can be guessed that the medalists wish to test the purity of the medal, Sanders told MercuryNews that it is the reporters that keep this tradition alive, “because it makes for a good picture.”
Beach Volleyball: butt slapping
Butt slapping is such a seemingly important part of the beach volleyball that, although player Kerri Walsh Jennings has a nasty case of pinkeye, she and her partner Misty May-Treanor would rather risk mutual contamination than play a match without post-point touching, according to MercuryNews.
Russia’s Anna Vozakova (L) and teammate Anastasia Vasina prepare to serve during the women's Beach Volleyball round of 16 match on August 3, 2012, for the London 2012 Olympic Games. DANIEL GARCIA/AFP
In response to her highly contagious pinkeye, Walsh Jennings and partner Misty May-Treanor discussed a change in the routine, but that lasted only a few points before they decided it was silly, according to ESPN.
Although refraining from inter-partner contact messes with her game, Walsh Jennings will continue skipping the traditional pre- and post-match handshakes with opponents.
Swimmers: wearing headphones
Many swimmers at the London 2012 keep their noise-cancelling headphones on up to the water’s edges before any of their race. They would only take them off before stepping onto the blocks.
This behavior has somehow upset fans, who traveled miles only to have the swimmers view them as a distraction.
US swimmer Michael Phelps listens to music prior to compete in the men's 100m butterfly final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Park on August 3, 2012 in London. MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/GettyImages
Several people have criticized the swimmers for ignoring the fans by using headphones to block out cheering along with any other background noise.
Michael Phelps, always the trendsetter, takes this fad to the max by keeping headphones glued in place until the last possible second.
Gymnasts: sporting scrunchies
When the US women's gymnastics team took the gold in London, 2 of the 7 team members were sporting scrunchies. Other countries have wrapped their hair in the plush holders, including Russia, Romania and China, today.com reported.
“In today’s fashion forward world, I don’t know why they’re OK,” said Shawn Johnson, gold medal gymnast. “I never wore them in competition. I wore ribbons. A rubber band covered in glittery fabric sticking out of your head — what is that?”
Romania's gymnast Diana Maria Chelaru eyes the bar during her performance on the uneven bars at Artistic Gymnastics women's team final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
While there are several theories from the gymnasts themselves about why they wear them, Johnson maintains it’s all about letting your individual fashion sense show on the mat.
“Gymnastics doesn’t give much leniency in terms of what you can wear: can’t wear nail polish, jewelry, can’t have tattoos. So people come up with glitter clips, hairdos,” she was quoted by the website.