Sports stars' strange rituals

Why wearing lucky pants, shaving their head, and stepping on a soggy towel could just propel Team GB to gold at this year's Olympics...

Wednesday, 3rd August 2016, 2:13 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 2:24 am
Jade Jones wears her lucky pants when fighting

The word is Wimbledon champ Serena Williams keeps winning due to a whiffy pair of unwashed socks.

Yes, according to 888Poker she’s admitted that when she’s on a winning streak, she’ll keep wearing the same pair, without ever washing them.

So could wearing a pair of lucky pants, stepping on a soggy towel or shaving one’s head result in a clutch of gold medals for our very own Team GB athletes in Rio this August?

Sports stars are probably among the most superstitious people in the world, and many of them have their own little lucky ritual that they’ll keep on repeating whenever they have a big game, match or tournament coming up, in the hope it helps propel them to success.

Online poker site, 888Poker, has compiled an infographic detailing the weirdest and most wonderful rituals of 15 of the biggest professional sports players in the world, including some of the athletes representing Team GB.

And it makes for some very colourful reading.

For example, Olympic cyclist Laura Trott now has to step on a wet towel before she heads on to the track, after winning the Junior World Championships with one wet sock. 
And long distance running champ Mo Farah absolutely has to shave his head before a race.

“Every athlete has a pre-race routine to get focused,” he explains. “Mine is to shave my head. I like feeling the smoothness of the scalp and splashing cold water on it once I’m done.”

For many sportspeople, what they’re wearing is important to them; it either has to be the same thing throughout their match or tournament, or something of the same colour.

Welsh martial artist Jade Jones, who’ll be representing the UK in taekwondo, always dons her lucky Union Jack pants when she fights.

While middle distance runner Hannah England, the only British woman to have run under two minutes for the 800m, swears by wearing pink socks when she’s racing, and often when she’s training too.

But however crazy these rituals sound, they are obviously very important to the people who do them.

“A ritual is something that someone repeats often, in exactly the same way,” explains Pete Campbell on behalf of 888Poker “and we see this a lot at the poker tables.

“For example, poker supremo Johnny Chan always brings an orange with him to the poker table - not to eat, just to have, well, reassuringly by his side.”

Visit here to read the full infographic.