Olympic tattoos are everywhere. The London 2012 Games has seen multiple record holders striving to keep place and plenty of new blood working up through the ranks. With so many athletes fighting to stand out in the crowd, tattoos are becoming an increasingly popular way to flaunt personality and aggression. We’re seeing mantras, dedications and a whole lot of symbolism.
A classic and increasingly common tattoo is of the five interlocking rings. Your average athlete uses it to represent an Olympic win, but who could deserve it more than the remarkable Michael Phelps after 18 gold medal wins.
Here’s a few of my favourites from across the disciplines and physiques.
1. Marcel Nguyen
Cute as a button German gymnast, Marcel Nguyen, sports a decorative chest band saying ‘Pain is Temporary Pride is Forever’, in a nod to his rigorous, six hours a day training regime and overcoming a major injury.
2. Anastasia Davydova
The Russian bombshell has won four gold medals in synchronised swimming. She has 17 butterflies tattooed across her back and bum, which she tries to cover up for competitions, but you can usually get a cheeky glimpse if you look hard enough.
3. Jesper Tolvers
Tolvers’ tattoo is a striking and literal representation of his discipline, as opposed to the abstract imagery many athletes plump for. This piece has an inky quality and demonstrates the poise and grace of synchronised diving. The muscle definition is beautiful too.
4. Anthony Ervin
The second American swimmer here, Ervin’s style is loud and extreme in comparison to that of Phelps and, although the swooping, swirling mass of colours, blends and water/air creatures is something of a mess, I can’t help but love the brazen gaudiness of it.
5. James Ellington
What can be said about this man? Handsome, built like a bull and flashing two sleeves consisting of darkness: skulls, roses, a dragon and a stallion, all topped off with a chest banner. He may not have a medal yet but his tattoos reveal a dynamic and tenacious character ready to burn through. Gorgeous works of black and grey realism with lots of depth and movement. Fabulous win for the sprinter.