Ink or swim? Tat­toos tell a tale Wide ar­ray of body art draw­ing no­tice at world cham­pi­onships

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

BU­DAPEST — World records have tum­bled and gold medals have been won, but the col­or­ful ar­ray of tat­toos on dis­play at the World Aquat­ics Cham­pi­onships have proved just as eye-catch­ing.

Sharks, dol­phins ... even the lion adorn­ing the arm of Adam Peaty’s grand­mother.

A vast ar­ray of im­ages, script, and se­cre­tive sym­bols adorn the bod­ies of com­peti­tors, from flow­ing and har­mo­nious waves to pow­er­ful and speedy crea­tures of the deep.

The Olympic rings — a proud stamp on the skin of the swim­mers who com­peted at a Games — are also com­mon place, but some of the world’s fastest have ex­plained the think­ing be­hind the art work on their bod­ies.

Bri­tain’s Peaty has been one of the star per­form­ers at the Duna Arena with two world records and golds in the men’s 50m and 100m breast­stroke.

Peaty had a large tat­too of a lion inked onto his left shoul­der af­ter win­ning the Olympic 100m breast­stroke ti­tle last year in Rio de Janeiro.

“The tat­too is more about train­ing for me,” said the 22-year-old.

“When I wake up, I look in the mir­ror and go to the pool. It re­minds me of the hard work I put in to win in Rio, while I am swim­ming.

“It also keeps me grounded and pas­sion­ate about what I do and re­minds me of how I got there.

“It is great to have a re­minder ... and it’s get­ting ex­tended in a few days,” he added with­out want­ing to give away the fu­ture de­sign.

Peaty’s wheelchair-bound grand­mother, Mavis Williams, 74, got a tem­po­rary tat­too, a copy of her grand­son’s lion, which de­lighted the Bri­tish swim­mer.

“That was crazy, I ac­tu­ally thought she had had a proper tat­too done, I thought, ‘Oh my God, what has she done?’ But she loves it,” Peaty said with a grin.

Bruno Fra­tus, who took sil­ver in the men’s 50m freestyle on Sat­ur­day be­hind Caeleb Dres­sel of the US, ex­plained how his winged tat­too was done on a whim.

“I trust the guy who does my tat­toos so much that I just give him my arms and say ‘do what­ever you feel like as long as it’s not too crazy’ ... be­cause I still got to wear short sleeves,” said the 28-year-old.

Time off

“As long as I have space and money, I’ ll keep do­ing it. And time off, too ... be­cause every time you tat­too some­thing, you need 10 days out of the wa­ter.

“That’s a graf­fiti I saw in Mi­ami. I just took a pic­ture and give it to him as a ref­er­ence. That one’s just a wing.

“I woke up one morn­ing and thought ‘I think I would look good with a wing on my arm’.”

His com­pa­triot, Etiene Medeiros won the women’s 50m back­stroke gold last Thurs­day and ex­plained the dif­fer­ing mo­ti­va­tions for her tat­toos.

“I have an ocean mer­maid on my fore­arm to bring its en­ergy into my life, be­neath it a lo­tus flower, which is ris­ing from the ashes like a phoenix,” said the 26-year-old Brazil­ian.

“Be­neath that, an ‘ohana’ tat­too to re­mind me how blessed I am to have my fam­ily and friends.

“On my an­kles, I have the name of my fa­ther and mother, I also have other ones which are hid­den.”

South African-born Dutch swim­mer Kyle Stolk boasts a spring­bok and an Ir­ish sham­rock dis­played on a re­splen­dent Dutch flag.

“I wanted to in­cor­po­rate the three places that have made me what I am to­day,” said the swim­mer, who learned his trade in Dublin, be­fore mov­ing to the Nether­lands who he rep­re­sented at the Rio Olympics.

“It might be a too flam­boy­ant for some peo­ple but it means a lot to me,” he said.

MICHAEL DALDER / REUTERS

Bri­tain’s Adam Peaty reacts af­ter win­ning the men's 50m breast­stroke fi­nal at the World Aquat­ics Cham­pi­onships in Bu­dapest last Wed­nes­day. Be­low: Etiene Medeiros of Brazil is all smiles af­ter win­ning the women's 50m back­stroke fi­nal.

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