SPORTY...BUT STILL HUMAN

They appear on TV Screens, so you'd think they'd be used to the pressure. However, just like all of us, they need an anchor.

SPORTY...BUT STILL HUMAN
SPORTY...BUT STILL HUMAN
SPORTY...BUT STILL HUMAN
SPORTY...BUT STILL HUMAN "Don't jinx me." You might be forgiven for feeling the only category of people entitled to speak the above statement were gamblers. Ask any gambler, and they'll let you know the power of luck , and perhaps fate, when casting those die. Just as the roulette table spins, so do the vicissitudes of fate spin, with many a gambler hoping for the best...to go home richer. However, sportsmen and sportswomen are a superstitious bunch, with a significant belief in jinxes and lucky charms. Long hours of training, gruelling efforts in the gym, coupled with blood, sweat and tears on the pitch, track or court, as the case may be, do not often translate to encouraging results. Subsequently, even the most supremely gifted performer often has their own way of appealing to mother luck, albeit, through funny and sometimes, outrightly outlandish means. Pre-game and in-game rituals among various sportsmen (ah, yes of course, the women aren't left out here) range from boyishly romantic to religious, from outrightly dirty to obsessive, and from gluttonous to garish. ROMANTIC We are all familiar with the sight of ex-Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas trap a ball with his first touch, lift his head, and with a swing of his boot, send a beauty of a lofted pass into the path of a striker. According to the Spaniard, "...before every game, I take the engagement ring I have with my partner, and kiss it 5 times before going to the pitch..." With a wife as stunning as Daniella Semaan, Fabregas might be forgiven for expressing a tender-hearted emotion before going to battle on the pitch. Fabregas' pre-game ritual seems to have helped the midfielder have a storied career, bejeweled with a medal collection that could make the average football player jealous. The 32-year-old boasts 2 European Championship titles, the World Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup, league titles with Barcelona and Chelsea, the Europa League, and a host of other domestic titles. In addition to these, his glittering career is littered with a host of individual titles, with PFA team of the year inclusions, Premier League player of the month awards and several others. Love drains a man huh? You might want to rethink that statement. RELIGIOUS When you think of basketball greats, you remember the cornrow-wearing Iverson, the braggadocious LeBron, the calm Bryant, the "Magician" Johnson. Sitting behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time scoring list is Karl Malone with 36,928 points. Phenomenal, right? How about this? Malone holds the record for the most free throws attempted and made. Nicknamed "The Mailman," Malone was a solid 74.2% free throw shooter in his career. He had a habit of holding his palms beneath the ball as he walked up to the free throw line, muttering a quick prayer as he did so. Well, I don't know what he said, but it obviously worked. Malone won the 1992 and 1996 Olympics with the US National basketball team, and was a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1997 and 1999 respectively. DIRTY Ahhh, the smell of dirty socks certainly doesn't appeal to the nose. Be that as it may, it seems to appeal to the gods of lawn tennis. Serena Williams has forged a name for herself in the world of sports, dominating over the years, racking up with after win, trophy after trophy, smashing up record after record, rewriting history in women's tennis with an almost Sicilian streak on the court. In 2001, when the peak of the racism storm against the Williams sisters reached a nadir, with death threats and not-too-favourable comments from reporters, Serena's teammates on the WTA tour took it upon themselves to get a piece of the action...by stuffing her locker with dirty underwear! Nasty stuff. Who knows, perhaps this triggered Serena into the habit of using the same pair of socks, unwashed socks over and over, when competing in a tournament. Sweaty, stinky socks over and over till the tournament ended. Over the course of a 20-year professional tennis career, she's succeeded more often and for longer than anyone ever, winning all 4 Grand Slams consecutively, twice, and matching Steffi Graf's record of 186 weeks ranked at No. 1. Serena has a jaw-dropping 23 Grand Slams too. Dirty socks or not? I really don't wanna know. OBSESSIVE Sports players have a certain affinity with their tools of trade, say, gloves, balls, helmets, shin pads and the likes. Late baseball player Richie "Putt-Putt" Ashburn took this love story one step further when he revealed he slept with his baseball bat beside him the night before every game. Ashburn made the most put-outs of any outfield player in Major league baseball prior to his hall of fame induction in 1995. Weird as it may sound, Ashburn slept his way to the top...with his bat. On the other hand, Antonio Cassano, the former Madrid forward claimed the over 100 women he slept with went some ways to ruining his career. So, choose wisely people. Strange bedfellows jut might be the answer. GLUTTONOUS Food is vital to life. And even more importantly, the right diet is a key requirements in sports. Some athletes however, take food a little too seriously, and as such write their own prescriptions, based on a self-created, intrinsic diagnosis. Enter Caron Butler. In a career spanning 14 years, he appeared for the Miami Heats, Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks and a host of other teams. During his time at Wizards, he developed an addiction to Mountain Dew, drinking half of a 2-litre bottle pre-game, and finishing the other litre at half-time. Perhaps he wanted heightened sugar levels or simply had a sweet tooth, no one knows. Butler was NBA champion in 2011, and was a two-time NBA All-Star (2007 and 2008). GARISH It's a football match. The fourth official's board goes up. It's a substitution. The tired player trudges off, gives the substitute a customary pat on the back and goes to take his seat on the bench. The substitute bends over, touches the grass, then crosses his heart, while sprinting onto the pitch. Typical. Not for Daniel Sturridge. This Englishman, upon getting the pat on the back from his substituted teammate, turns his back, and trudges onto the pitch that way. Fellow England international Danny Rose told of Sturridge doing the same even walking onto the training pitch. Really Danny? However, the 29-year-old Birmingham-born striker doesn't mind, with 2 UEFA Champions League medals adorning his chintzy introduction. Sturridge made a habit of being showy, with his dance steps being a major part of his armoury. Who could forget his Egyptian-style dance routine lighting up Anfield? Sports stars are humans, like us. We all have certain habits that help give us a confidence boost before a daunting activity. Sometimes, it could be a coincidental occurrence with a particular activity, simply happening before a success. Some of us have held onto this, labelling it our "good luck charm." Mine? I play high-energy, pulse-racing rock music on the way to writing an exam. What's yours?

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