The overwhelming ecstasy that comes from finally grasping the near-unattainable victory following hours of intense competition manifests itself in a number of ways. From the simple gesture of thanking the heavens with a simple kiss and a wave to showboating with some impressive dance moves, sports stars across the board have their own way of celebrating a meaningful win.
Here are a few of the more memorable salutes to the sporting gods…
1. Djokovic Eats his Blades of Glory
Certainly a top contender for the strangest winning ritual, tennis superstar, Novak Djokovic, gave many headline writers some useful fodder after he won his first Wimbledon title in 2011. With the final ball, the Serbian player dropped to his knees and got a real taste of Centre Court by grasping a few blades of grass and eating them, really savouring the victory. This unusual ritual obviously had a winning formula because he got to sample the hallowed court following a further two successful Wimbledon finals.
The grass-eating ritual seems to have replaced Djokovic’s ‘hulk’ routine after beating Rafael Nadal in an epic six-hour Australian Open final in 2012 where he ripped off his shirt and beat his chest in celebration.
2. Feel the Heat
Not the only tennis star with an unusual celebration ritual, the Swiss duo of Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer put on an interesting skit following their win in the 2008 Olympics men’s doubles tournament. Because Wawrinka was ‘on fire’ that day, he lay on the floor while Federer ‘warmed his hands up’ on him. Whether rehearsed or not, possibly best for the pair to stick to tennis and leave the acting out of it.
3. The Lightning Bolt
Easily one of the most iconic victory stances worldwide comes from the globe’s fastest man, Usain Bolt. Known as ‘To Di World’ (To the World) in his home of Jamaica or ‘the lightning bolt’ elsewhere, the sprinter bends an elbow of one arm and straightens the other, angled towards the skies. Made famous following his epic performance at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the stance has been replicated worldwide with parents even entering their babies on a Twitter competition, emulating the move which allegedly originated from the dancefloor.
4. Football Festivities
Without a doubt, the prima donnas of the sporting world, footballers take celebrating goals and match victories to another level. Nigerian footballers are renowned for their impressive backflips following a successful back-of-the-net performance with the most famous example undertaken by Julius Aghahowa at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. In a dramatic turn of events, Congolese footballer, Lomana LuaLua was banned from backflipping by his club, Portsmouth, after he injured himself during the celebration.
Another celebratory tradition that has been curtailed is the removing of a scorer’s shirt. FIFA ruled this as ‘excessive celebrating’ the penalty of which is a yellow card, something Andres Iniesta learnt the hard way in the 2010 World Cup final.
Although celebrations are encouraged, there is a line and penalties will be issued if it’s crossed. Former Liverpool striker, Robbie Fowler, had to cough up $90,000 to his club and the Football Association after he mimicked snorting cocaine off the touchline following his successful penalty. Not classy.
5. Pop the Champagne
Although it’s become the tradition now, spraying the champagne over the Formula One podium attendees and onlookers rather than consuming it was initiated by American racer, Dan Gurney, in 1967 following his Le Mans victory. Champagne is typically the fizz of choice, however religious doctrine sees the top three F1 contenders spraying non-alcoholic sparkling rosewater in Bahrain while the Williams’ drivers would spray orange juice in the seventies and eighties in respect of their Middle Eastern backers.
MotoGP’s Jack Miller first introduced the Australian tradition of drinking champagne from a shoe to the motorsport community which was then introduced to Formula One by Daniel Ricciardo.
These are definitely not the first and most certainly not the last strange sporting celebrations. We look forward to watching plenty more crazy antics in the years to come.