David Oliver ()David Oliver () © Copyright

Inked up

SPIKES talks to three world champions: indoor 60m hurdles champion Nia Ali; 110m hurdles champion David Oliver; and indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty, about their distinctive body art.

Nia Ali:“I had my first tattoo, a pitbull terrier with flames around it, done as a teenager. It is on my upper left arm. I’m a real animal lover. I have four dogs including two pitbulls at home.

“I think the flame symbolises me a little bit and I like the idea that someone could look at a tattoo of me, form an opinion of who they think I am, but then discover that there is another side they have yet to find out about. I like the idea of the fire symbolising aggression. ”

Pain-free: Ali also likes the henna version

David Oliver: “I got my first tattoo on my shoulder when I was aged 17. It is a Kanji symbol (Japanese), which means ‘superior’. It seemed fitting for me because that’s how I feel about myself. I am a very self-confident. 

“I always believed I could get things done, whether people believed in me or not. In 2011 and 2012 the media were critical of me, but I thought I’m not going to let them write an obituary on me. I knew what I could do when I was healthy.”

Richard Kilty: “The tattoo in the middle of my back reads ‘against all odds’. I got it done three years ago. The phrase sums up my whole life because I’ve had it tough growing up in homeless hostels and coming from an area where no-one wanted me to succeed.

“I thought I’d get it done as a reminder to myself to prove people wrong. ‘Against all odds’ – just like when I was a 66-1 shot to win the world indoor 60m title and nobody thought I was going to win.”

Ali: “On my left hand I have a letter P which represents by nickname: Pooda. I come from Philadelphia, where everyone has a nickname. I don't even know how I got it, I've just always been Pooda. It is something that has stuck with me and it is something I feel comfortable with.

“I also have the words ‘Life and Love’ tattooed on the inside of two of my fingers. I got these two words specifically tattooed because of the phrase: 'you've got your whole life to live'.The way I look at it, more people need to stop worrying and live in the moment.”

Oliver: “I have a tattoo on my right shoulder with two hands coming together for a prayer which below reads 'RIP Andrew' in honour of my best friend as a child, Andrew Cobb, who died in 2001.

“At the time I was in my freshman year and it took me a while to go back to school. I still talk with his parents now, but the tattoo reminds me of the fact you only have one life to live, and you have to keep moving forward.

“Last year I got my whole back done. I have the Martin Luther King quote. ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ For me, that is the 100 per cent truth.”

David Oliver Tattoo ()

Oliver's ink on show as he celebrates his world championship gold

Kilty: “On the top of my back I have another tattoo which reads ‘like father, like son’. My father has been a massive inspiration to me. Like me, he too was physically gifted [he was a 10.8 100m runner].

“We are also very similar personality-wise, as my mum keeps reminding me, so that is why I have the tattoo.”

Oliver: “I have a tattoo of the Olympic rings, which I got done in the fall of 2008. Making that team in Beijing [where he won bronze] was one of the biggest achievements of my career.

“I remember four years earlier for the US Olympic trials, I was the 32nd and last guy accepted in [to the meet]. Yet four years later, having followed the programme set by my coach Brooks Johnson, I was the number one guy at the trials.”