Strangest athlete superstitions and rituals in sports


Friday the 13th is possibly the most superstitious day/date combo known to man.  Whether your rituals for this day involve fearlessly embracing ‘just another day’ in the Gregorian calendar, something quirky with horse shoes or locking yourself in your bedroom and nervously browsing the Internet, this list of the strangest athlete superstitions and rituals is hard to beat.


Consulting a psychic

Many of us approach our coaches for feedback, but sometimes we want an outsider’s perspective.  Mario Cipollini is known for consulting with a psychic as part of his ritual before big races.


No passing the salt at dinner

According to Australian cyclist Graeme Brown, many Italian riders equate passing salt at dinner with bad luck.  Hence during the 2003 Giro d’Italia, salt was never passed by hand at the dinner table.  Instead, it was placed down on the table and ‘exchanged’ that way.


Avoiding the number 13 like the plague

Being the most feared number in modern society, former Russian racing cyclist Viatcheslav Ekimov refused to wear race jerseys bearing the number 13 and staying in hotel rooms containing the fearful number.


Teeth and clovers

Former Dutch bicycle road racer Michael Boogerd believed that luck came in the form of a locket.  Specifically, a locket containing an interesting combination of a four leaf clover, his first tooth and also the first tooth of his girlfriend.


No sleeping in air conditioning

Always one to do things by the book, this was a rule never broken by Lance Armstrong during his stage races.


All things number 8

Shalane Flanagan, bronze medallist in the 10,000 metres at the 2008 Beijing Olympics has adopted China’s lucky number as her own.  From her hotel room floor to the table for her water bottle, the number 8 is her lucky charm.


No flying on Friday the 13th

Belgian cyclist Peter De Clercq was so adamant about not flying on Friday the 13th that he received special authorisation to use a car for a stage transfer.


Work the crowds

The last thing that Australian hurdler Michelle Jenneke does before her race is channel her inner Miley Cyrus.


Lick and apply

One of the strangest pre-race rituals we have came across is that of Mexican American long distance runner Leo Manzano.  In this case, words do not do the ritual justice but fortunately we have provided you with a video.

 SportPursuit readers, what are your essential sporting rituals?  Leave us a comment below!