Condorelli's Odd Routine

All athletes have their own rituals just before competition. Some like to pray and point to the sky when on the starting blocks. Some might do a little dance to stay mentally and physically loose.

But Canadian swimmer Santo Condorelli does things a little differently.

When Condorelli was only 8, he became frustrated at his lack of success competing against older, more physically developed swimmers, according to this feature by Donna Spencer of the Canadian Press.

It was natural for the aspiring star and his father, Joseph, to look for an edge somehow, but the conclusion they reached was far from conventional: They decided to have the younger Condorelli give his father the middle finger just before every race.

"You've got to build your confidence yourself and say 'eff everybody else that you're racing,' " Condorelli told the CP, recalling his father's words to him. "He said, 'Every time you're behind the blocks, give me the finger and I'll give it back to you.'"

As the CP's feature noted, Condorelli has understandably run into some controversy regarding his unusual tactic, with his appearances in gradually more prominent races.

For example, just before the 100m freestyle at the 2012 USA Junior Nationals (his dad is American and his mom is Canadian), Condorelli was just doing his routine as usual. But his father happened to be positioned right behind the television cameras, so the unfortunate angle portrayed Santo as a villain, as shown in this video:

"I was looking at my father and I gave him the finger ... directing it right at the camera," he told the Canadian Press about that incident. "I had to write an apology."

With the 21-year-old Condorelli set to make his first Olympics appearance, his ritual previously only seen by swimming die-hards will now be fully exposed to the entire planet. And if you thought the world's ninth ranked swimmer in the 100m free had any plans to stop now, you'd be quite mistaken.

"Athletes always have that one thing that gets them going that they need to do," he said. "That happens to be mine and still is. Seeing everybody's reaction to it has been interesting.

"I'm not trying to piss people off. I just put it in the middle of my forehead now. My dad is definitely giving it to me and I can see him from a mile away."

More Olympics:
-- Mike Conley Jr.: When Your Dad Is An Olympian
-- How Christen Press Stays Sane Despite Crazy Schedule
-- How Miles Chamley-Watson Turned Detention Into Olympic Fencing