Jacques Freitag wins the men's High jump world title (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Paris, France

It’s not just about fashion

What is the common point between Kim Collins, winner of the men’s 100m gold medal, and Jacques Freitag winner of the men’s high jump?

Good question.

They both clinched their first World Championships title on the same day? True but there is also something else they have in common.

If you paid close attention to both competitions you may have noticed that both Collins and Freitag were curiously wearing high socks. Ok, Collins’ socks were black and Freitag’s were yellow but wasn’t that to match their national vest’s colours?

“I like high socks just like one likes necklaces or bracelets,” said Freitag after becoming, aged 21, one of the youngests high jump world champion.

Incidentally high jump bronze medallist Mark Boswell of Canada was also wearing high socks; his being white.

But this can’t just be about fashion. In some cases, the reasons behind the choice of accessories to wear during one’s race are far from being without reasoning.

Who doesn’t know about the story that lies behind Felix’s Sanchez flashing wristband he was given at the Sydney Olympics where he failed to qualify for the final and he promised himself to wear it in every race until the next Olympics in Athens as a reminder of his disappointment.

“I wear it to make sure I don’t forget what happened in Sydney and until I avenge myself in Athens,” explained oh so many times Sanchez.

Three years have gone since the Sydney Olympics and the wrist band has now become a part of Felix Sanchez, the man who won a World Championships title in Edmonton, a share of the Golden League in 2002 and the Pan American Games in 2003.

Will the wrist band be first across the line in Paris as well? But that is another story and we’ll have the answer on Friday.

The head band is another of the accessories track and field athletes seem to be fancying.

Remember 400m defending champion Amy Mbacke Thiam of Senegal was wearing a black head band when winning her title in Edmonton? This year she has returned to the track wearing a white head band.

It is another 400m runner who is most commonly associated with the head band though. Tyree Washington, a silver medallist in the individual event last night, has hardly ever run a race without his favourite accessory.

“I started wearing it 7 years ago and have always worn it since,” said Washington. "It’s now part of the whole Tyree Washington thing.

“People always criticised me for wearing the head bands but I don’t care. It also helps keeping the sweat off so it does actually have a real function.

“This year I have often worn red head bands but that doesn’t really matter. I can wear black or blue or whatever colour. It is usually a plain colour but we are discussing to create a whole new Tyree Washington head bands style together with my shoe company.

“How many do I have? Wow I don’t know. I have plenty of them. And a lot of different colours.”

High socks and head bands are still quite rare on the circuit of track and field. The same can certainly not be said of sun glasses which are, especially among sprinters, at the very top of the list of accessories used on the track.

And in the last two years there is one athlete, among others, whose sun glasses have become her famous trademark. Mexico’s Ana Guevara who will run tonight to grab her first global title after failing to win gold – she won bronze – in Edmonton and in Sydney – she was fifth.

“The sun glasses are part of my personality now. They are part of the Ana Guevara character.

“At first I started using them because running into the sun hurt my eyes. Also the speed and the consequent wind in my face made my eyes cry. It is very disturbing during a race.”

Guevara has gained popularity as a fantastic one lap runner and a charming person who has nothing to hide to the journalists.

“And also I wear them because my sponsor asks me to…” concluded Guevara with a smile.

That, we would have guessed!