New York:Olympic hopefuls in London are a competitive bunch who will stop at nothing to give themselves an edge over their rivals, including superstitions and rituals.
U.S. women’s judo champ Kayla Harrison wore lucky socks that were a gift from her grandmother when she won Olympic gold.
British hockey player Laura Unsworth has banned a teammate from straightening her hair for fear it will cost them a medal.
Swimming legend Michael Phelps removes his headphones and swings his arms three times as he’s about to step on the starting block and race.
U.S. rifle competitor Matt Emmons has a lucky four-leaf clover key ring that his wife and father gave him at the Athens Olympics.
Bronx gymnast John Orozco has a pink and blue dinosaur with “a scratched out eye and has a stitched up tail” for a good-luck charm.
Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice has one of the more elaborate pre-race rituals — eight arm swings, splashing her body with water four times and standing on the block and pressing her goggles to her face four times.
“It’s always the same,” the New York Daily News quoted Rice as saying in her profile on the London 2012 website.
“Exactly the same,” she said.
For other athletes their good luck charm is more about what they wear, rather than what they do.
“I have a lucky blue sports bra,” Evelyn Stevens, a Wall Street banker-turned-Olympic cyclist, said.
The bra was a gift from her older sister and sent her on a winning streak.
According to psychologists, generally superstitions and lucky charms may actually have a positive effect.