When Canadian swimmer Santo Condorelli takes to the starting block for his country at the Rio Olympics, you might notice him flip the middle finger as he preps for his race. Don’t be offended, he’s not giving you the bird…he’s giving it to his father.
This strange ritual has become somewhat of a Condorelli family tradition, and the custom has a pretty interesting origin. Back when Santo was a young swimmer pitted against older competition, he grew frustrated having to race the older kids in the water. He was pissed off and not feeling great about himself.
According to The Canadian Press, Condorelli’s father told him that he needed to build confidence and "say eff everybody else that you’re racing." That’s when he instructed his son to flip him a middle finger before his races, saying he would flip him one right back for motivation.
Considering Condorelli is going to be representing his country on the international stage, the strange tactic has apparently worked out quite well, though not without causing some controversy. Not surprisingly, fans unaware of the tradition have been shocked to see the gesture made in their direction. Condorelli has gotten into a bit of trouble and been asked to tone it down.
Considering its effectiveness and meaning to the family, I’d say it’s a pretty good bet that the bird will still fly high at the Olympics this year.