Olympic Athletes Sport Colourful Nail Art
Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, who recently featured on the cover of a digital edition of British Vouge, engaged the services of nail artist Emily Gilmour to make sure her nails were bang on-trend. She sported a blue and white manicure which was inspired by the famous Japanese painting by Hokusai, The Great Wave off Kanagawa.
Gilmour told CNN that Asher-Smith wanted to make a nod to Japanese culture, and that ‘the nails intentionally "celebrated" the Olympics' host country. Gilmour added that ‘bold manicures have become popular among athletes as they're eye-catching and a way to express themselves, while their uniforms all match each other.’
Other athletes opt to have their nails painted in the style of their country’s flag, or otherwise make some reference to the host country. Manicured nails are now so popular at the Olympics, that some organising committees now even arrange for nail salons to be set up in the athletes’ Olympic Villages, CNN reports.
So where did it all begin? Well, back at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, legendary US sprinter Florence ‘Flo-Jo’ Griffith Joyner sported a memorable crystal-embellished set of nails in red, white, blue and gold. Her background as a nail technician obviously inspired her look as she broke world records and won three gold medals.
Griffith Joyner became known for her eclectic style, and was not afraid to stand out on the track. She wore bold brightly coloured outfits, and unlike other athletes, she wore jewellery and make -up even when competing and kept her hair long. She challenged the notion that women have to downplay their femininity in order to be successful.
Since then, personal style has come to be embraced by many athletes. Hong Kong Olympic swimmer Camille Cheng said that having her nails done was a way of expressing her individuality when competing. She told CNN: "As swimmers, we race in pretty standard caps, goggles and suits. I feel that getting my nails done adds a bit of my personality."
Cheng, who also competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, explained: "For this Olympics, I wanted to have Hong Kong represented, Japan (as it's being hosted in Tokyo), the Olympic Rings and something water or swimming related. We are proud to represent our country on the biggest sporting stage and we reflect that in our nails."
Cheng also said that the manicures have become part of the pre-race ritual for athletes, and are a great opportunity for a bit of pampering and self-care amid all the intense hard work. She sees it as a fun treat and a reward for all the effort that she puts in during the run-up to a tournament.
It’s certainly reassuring to know that even Olympic athletes like to have a bit of fun and light-hearted relief while they are gathering medals for their country!
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