Olympic Style: The Most Rakish Athletes

With the Tokyo Summer Olympics underway, we delve into the history and philosophy of the Games, whilst taking a look at some of the most iconic sportspeople to participate in it.

John B. Kelly Sr., shown rowing his sculling boat at the Antwerp Olympics, 1920.

The opening ceremony has been formally opened by the infinitely suave, Emperor Naruhito. A slightly scaled down affair, producers have ensured that the choreography in no way overlooks the beauty of the Japanese aesthetics. Despite the surreal, cavernous stadiums for the athletes to perform in, the Olympics as we know it today, thanks to the efforts of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, is still the pinnacle of sporting competition. Contenders have been building up to these Olympic Games their whole lives, and despite the hoops they have needed to go through, it is remarkable that this Games is as hotly contested as any before it. Often billed the marquee event, the men’s 100m will see the impressive Trayvon Bromell try and follow in the footsteps of Usain Bolt, whilst Britain’s fastest woman, Dina Asher-Smith will certainly push two-time 100m Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce close.

The Olympics stands for so much more than gold medals though. Firstly, its symbol, the five rings represent the five continents of the world. The Olympic motto was: Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for “faster, higher, stronger”. Coubertin said of this: “These three words represent a programme of moral beauty. The aesthetics of sport are intangible.” Added by the International Olympic Committee this year: “Together” joins the motto, which is a lovely ode to the most important thing in the Olympic Games, the participation in it. It is why unlike any other sporting event; the most extraordinary and unique stories are created from its platform.

It is also not just the Olympic torch that gives the Olympics flair, there have been countless Olympians of rakish appeal who have stamped their mark on and off the track. Here we take a look at five of the most stylish Olympians.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was born and brought up in Louisville, Kentucky. He began training as an amateur boxer aged 12. At 18, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics and turned professional later that year. It is not just his boxing affiliation in the Olympics that has inspired the world. When he stepped into the spotlight to light the Olympic cauldron at the 1996 opening ceremoney, he was simultaneously battling Parkinson’s disease. After lighting the torch, Ali told the Washington Post “God gave me this physical impairment to remind me that I am not the greatest. He is.” He was, however, a very smart dresser, often appearing often appearing in bowler hats, whilst his suits were certainly tailored by the best. He may have divided opinion in some circles, but you can’t dispute his status as a civil rights and social justice champion.

Contributor

Freddie Anderson

Published

July 2021

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