Whether we’ll admit it or not, we all have our superstitions – a lucky penny on the sidewalk here, a sidestep around a black cat there. As it turns out, the world’s greatest athletes are no different, and as they travel to London you can bet that their good luck charms will be coming along for the trip.
“The main lucky charm I have is a four-leaf-clover key ring,” Matt Emmons, who’ll compete in the shooting competition, revealed recently. “My wife and father gave it to me at the Athens Olympics.”
“I had a little unfortunate accident which cost me a gold medal,” he said of a misidentification of his target, which led to Emmons firing upon the wrong bullseye. “After that event, Katie and my father-in-law Peter came up to me and said ‘We really admire how you handled that situation; we want to give you this key ring that’s brought us good luck over the last few years.’ I’ve kept it with me ever since.”
Some athletes’ good luck charms, however, are a bit more intimate. “I have a lucky blue sports bra,” admitted cyclist Evelyn Stevens. “My older sister gave it to me, and I did a few early races with it and started winning. Of course, it wasn’t the training or my ability, it was the blue lucky sports bra.”
“Since 2009, I have worn that sports bra in almost every single bike race I’ve competed in,” she said of the well-used garment. “Everyone asks me if I wash it, and I do.”
BMX rider Arielle Martin-Verhaaren, inspecting her ring, said always keeps hers close. “I do have a lucky charm, a Tungsten band that my husband gave me to race in,” she explained. “Before I hop in the gate, I give it a little kiss.”
“It reminds me of him, and what’s important to me,” she explained. “At the end of the day, no matter what, when I cross the finish line he’s gonna be there.”
“I have a pink and blue dinosaur — his name is Dynamite,” grinned gymnast John Orozco, talking about a stuffed animal he’s treasured since childhood. “He’s got a scratched up eye and a stitched-up tail, but he’s perfect the way he is. He’s been through a lot, and that’s what makes him for me.”
Sometimes these lucky charms may seem silly, but since these folks are Olympians, the results can often be difficult to argue with. “My girlfriend’s team wore pink – neon pink, to add to it – laces for breast cancer awareness,” explained track & field star Christian Taylor. “Then one day I was like, let me take part in this. Well, I haven’t lost since.”
Watch the opening ceremonies on NBC Friday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET Then, NBCOlympics.com will be streaming live all 32 sports and 302 events.