Korean athletes engage in wide range of pre-game rituals: book
They listen to music, clip their fingernails, or take naps before big matches. Some choose not to shave during competitions, or go as far as keeping on the same underwear for the duration of their event.
These are some of the rituals for South Korean Olympic athletes, as introduced in a recent book published by the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC).
In the book, titled "The Storytelling of South Korean Athletes," some Olympians said they do not follow particular rituals or routines. But most others have their own, different ways to keep themselves calm before big competitions.
Badminton star Lee Yong-dae said he wears a lucky shirt for major events. The 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medalist in mixed doubles, Lee became a national star after giving a cheeky wink on camera in celebrating that victory. But he said in the book that he doesn't play well when he gets ahead of himself and starts thinking about post-match celebration.
Park Tae-hwan, the reigning Olympic champion in men's 400-meter freestyle swimming, is famous for wearing oversized headsets before races. He is known to listen to Korean pop music, which also helps him block out crowd noise.
Archers have different approaches about their fingernails. Lee Sung-jin on the women's team makes sure she clips them neatly, but her teammate Choi Hyun-joo prefers to cut them well before competition and let them grow a bit in time for her match. She said it gives her a better feel on the bow.
Growing facial hair, or at least not shaving it, is a popular ritual for athletes, most widely practiced by the National Hockey League (NHL) players during playoffs. They have company in South Korea with shooter Han Jin-seop and weightlifter Jeon Sang-guen.
Shin Jong-hun, the world's No. 1-ranked light flyweight boxer, takes it a step further. Once in a tournament, he wears the same underwear and socks until he's knocked out.
"But I wash them after every bout," Shin insisted. "So don't get the wrong idea."
Park Jung-geu, captain of the men's handball team, may want to have clean uniforms on hand. He likes to kiss his uniform shirt before games.
Hwang Kyung-seon, seeking her second straight Olympic taekwondo title in London, does not like to see anything drop in her room for it's a bad omen -- to a point that before her big match, she places everything down on the floor. (Yonhap)