Olympic athlete Santo Condorelli has a strange ritual. Before every race, the Canadian swimmer gives his dad the middle finger. A nice guy and a good son, Condorelli does so not to insult his father, but to give himself a much needed boost of confidence.
Early in his swimming career, the 21 year old Olympian had anxiety problems when it came to facing fellow athletes. His father suggested that he take charge of the situation by flipping the bird. His dad’s advice was simple: “You’ve got to build your confidence yourself and say ‘eff everybody else.’” Now, before each swim, Condorelli gives the middle finger to his father in the crowd, who returns the gesture.
Condorelli’s ritual has not been without controversy. In the past, fellow competitors, audience members, and even judges have mistakenly believed that Condorelli was giving them the finger. Recently, Condorelli accidentally gave his father the finger while a camera was directed at him.
This incident resulted in him having to write an apology to his fellow athletes and viewers at home. Despite the bit the of controversy his ritual has caused, Condorelli vows to continue it, albeit in a more subdued fashion so as not offend anyone watching at home.
Condorelli’s ritual has made him an instant favorite among the Canadian Olympic Swimming Team, with his career being followed with great intent on social media. More importantly for the team, Condorelli’s ritual seems to actually be working as he is heavily favored to win a medal in this month’s competition.