Arne Roald Bradstock (aka The "Olympic Picasso") is an Olympic athlete and an Olympic artist from England who competed in the men's javelin throw event during his career. He twice represented Great Britain at the Summer Olympics: 1984 and 1988. In 1992 he was an alternate for the GB Olympic Team and in 1996 was an alternate for the USA Olympic team. Bradstock competed in the 2000, 2004, 2008 USAT&F Olympic Trials and then, for his 8th and final time at age 50, the 2012 UK Olympic Trials where he came second.
In 2000, Bradstock competed in the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport Art competition in the painting division, for which he won the gold medal. His winning painting, titled "Struggle for Perfection" then went on to be part of an International exhibition at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) museum in Lausanne as part of the 2000 Sydney Olympics cultural events.
Early Years : Spina Bifida, Sport, and Art
Bradstock was born April 24, 1962 in Hertford Heath, Hertfordshire, England. In 1968 he became inspired to become an Olympian as he watched the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games on the BBC. A few months later he was taken to hospital after he continued to get severe headaches. His mother, who was a nurse, also noticed his head was growing disproportionately fast to the rest of his body. He was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus ( water on the brain ). For the next 8 years he was monitored closely and had regular hospital visits to monitor his condition to determine if and when he would need a shunt put in. His parents, Basil and Mary, were advised by doctors that he should not play any contact sports, for fear that he could become paralyzed if he was hit in the wrong place. He was not allowed to play rugby at school. Instead he took up swimming, power-lifting, Olympic-lifting and javelin throwing. He became a competitive school and district level swimmer and a county level weightlifter. But it was ability to throw a javelin were he really excelled and rapidly rose to a national level.
Despite the medical issues Bradstock was having it did not dampen his love of sports, especially throwing things. From age 6 he would throw anything and everything from stones and sticks to apples and snowballs which continues on today, even in his mid-50s.
Bradstock also had an obsession and passion with art from early on. In 1967, he began using plasticine as a medium, to create sculptures of animals, people and landscapes and won a local art show at 6 years old. He also created thousands of plasticine soldiers and created intricate battle scenes on his bedroom floor and then took photographs.
In 1981 Bradstock, aged 19, threw the senior men's 800 gram javelin 83.20m. He also won the silver medal at the European Junior Championships behind Uwe Hohn of East Germany. He finished that year being ranked number two in the World Junior rankings, again behind Uwe Hohn of East Germany.
In 1985 he became the first British Javelin thrower to break the 90-meter barrier with the "Old Rule" javelin with a Commonwealth Record of 91.40m / 299 ft 10". The following year, in 1986, he became the first man in the world to surpass the 80m barrier with the "New Rule" javelin with a World Record Throw of 81.74m. In 1987 he improved on his mark with a throw of 83.84m / 275 ft 1".
In addition to being an Olympic athlete, Bradstock is also an Olympic artist dubbed "The Olympic Picasso".
In 2000 he won the United States Olympic Committee ( [USOC] ) Sport Art Competition. His winning artwork was exhibited at the International Olympic Museum in Lausanne as part of the cultural activities leading up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
In 2003 Bradstock won the prestigious International Sports Artist of the Year. This award was given by the United States Sport Academy (USSA) and American Sport Museum and Archives (ASAMA) in recognition of Bradstock unique award winning style of art called "athletic abstraction".
In late 2006, after the BBC heard of an ambitious proposal Bradstock had for the 2012 London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games ( [LOCOG] ) which would combine Sport and Art in a revolutionary way and scale, he became nicknamed "The Olympic Picasso".
In December 2007 Bradstock began posting athletic and artistic videos on YouTube at "roald62". The videos range from the serious to the humorous. He is seen competing breaking national, international and world records in the javelin throw. He can also be seen throwing everything and anything from a dead fish on a beach across the Alabama / Florida State line to throwing a kitchen sink as part of a "Random objects throwing competition" that was held on an airport runway in England as part of a UK television series on Channel Four called the McCain Track and Field Show.
In 2008 Bradstock competed in his 7th Olympic Trials ( 4 UK Olympic Trials, 3 US Olympic Trials ). At age 46 he was the oldest competitor at the 2008 USATF Olympic Trials. Bradstock received international media attention while competing at the trials on 4 July 2008 but not for his age. He took three throws, wearing different, brightly coloured, hand painted outfits each time. He also threw three different hand painted javelins – each one matching a corresponding outfit.
In May 2009 Bradstock threw a World Age (47) Javelin Record of 72.49m.
Throughout the 2010 competitive season he broke 26 UK National age and age group records and set 3 World Age Records for a 48-year-old: 70.16m, 70.40m and 71.07m. He finished in 8th place at the 2010 UK Trials and the following week won the 2010 UK Masters Championships smashing the meet record with all 6 throws.
In June 2010 Bradstock's artistic accomplishments were recognized in a new international contemporary Sport Art book written by the American Sport Museum and Archives (ASAMA). The chapter on Bradstock is titled, "The Olympic Picasso".
On 8 January 2011 Bradstock threw 71.83 m or 235 ft 8 in in a competition in Clermont, Florida. This throw broke the 12-year-old UK Masters Record and broke his own World Age (48) Record.
On 30 April 2011 in Radford, Virginia, he set a World Age (49) record of 70 m. Three weeks later in Tucson, Arizona on 19 May, he broke his UK Masters Record 3 more times and set 3 New World Age (49) records, too. His throws, measuring 72.32 m, 72.87 m and then 74.73 m pushed him up to number 3 on the 2011 UK Rankings—at that time. It also qualified him for his 8th Olympic Trials in 2012 when he would be 50 years old.
In the Spring of 2010 Bradstock was appointed Legacy Ambassador in the UK for the Youth Sport Trust's 2012 Sports Colleges Legacy Program. This appointment came after working with the Youth Sport Trust for 2 years. During that time he gave lectures and workshops at dozens of Sports Colleges around England on the connection between Sport and Art.
On 2 June 2012 in Clermont, Florida Bradstock competed in his first competition as a 50-year-old. The result: He smashed the M50 World Age Group Record with a 700 javelin by over 5 metres with a throw of 76.15m. The previous record was 71.01m thrown in 2007.
Three weeks later on 23 June 2012 Roald Bradstock threw in his 8th Olympic Trials in Birmingham, England. His first throw was another M50 World Age Group Record this time with an 800g javelin. His throw of 72.78m was over a 7-meter improvement on the existing World Record. The previous record was 65.76m held by Larry Stuart in 1988. Bradstock's throw won him a silver medal at the trials where he was not only the oldest athlete in any event but became the oldest medalist in any event in 76 years since 1936.
In March 2016, the ten year anniversary of AOTO, Bradstock launched a global campaign and search to find new Olympian and Paralympian artists to join the organization. He first made the announcement on BBC Radio Two and then on CNN's World Sport.
The "Olympic Picasso"
The "Olympic Picasso" is a nickname given by the media to Bradstock. In 2000 he won the gold medal in painting in the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport Art competition held by the United States Sports Academy (USSA) and American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA). His winning painting titled "Struggle for Perfection" went on to be exhibited at the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland as part of the cultural events and activities leading up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
In 2006, the phrase the "Olympic Picasso" was first seen in print in the October issue of a British athletics magazine called Athletics Weekly (AW). The article, about an ambitious Olympic Art proposal that Bradstock was pitching to the 2012 London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), referenced renowned BBC sport commentator Paul Dickenson and his nickname for Roald Bradstock.
In 2008 Roald Bradstock competed in his 7th Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. He created a media frenzy when he stepped on to the javelin runway to take his first throw in the qualifying rounds of the 2008 US Olympic Trials on July 4. He took a total of three throws wearing different hand painted outfits with matching hand painted "optical" javelins each time. His first outfit was a black and white stripped zebra looking costume. His second was an Olympic themed kit with all five colors of the Olympic rings painted on it and his final "number" was a red, white and blue outfit that he said later was to celebrate July 4, America's independence day.
Bradstock's antics on the field got national and international coverage. In a news conference immediately after the event where he placed 16th, he was besieged by reporters. Competing in his 7th Olympic Trials and being the oldest person at the Olympic Trials at the age of 46 was of little interest, but what was of interest was his "eccentric" media stunt, his hand painted outfits, his bizarre YouTube videos documenting a long list of World Records for throwing strange objects from dead fish to iPhones, to the BBC's nickname for him.
Over the next four years leading up to Bradstock's historic 8th Olympics Trials, this time for the UK, Bradstock received a lot of press coverage on the radio, TV, newspapers and magazines around the world. He was also featured in a documentary hosted by 1968 Olympic Figure Skating Champion Peggy Fleming on the Art of The Olympians organization which was founded by 4 time consecutive Olympics Discus Champion and Olympic Icon Al Oerter.
At the 2012 British Olympic Trials, in Birmingham, England Bradstock once again changed outfits pulled a "media stunt". This time he wore a variety of painted hats, sleeves, tights, sock and shoes . He came second with a World Age Record for a 50 year old with a throw of 72.78m and became the oldest person to win a medal in 86 years.
In March 2016, CNN's sports anchor Patrick Snell did an interview with Bradstock titled, " Olympic Picasso" links art and sport.
|Representing United Kingdom|
|1984||Olympic Games||Los Angeles, United States||7th||81.22 m|
|1987||World Championships||Rome, Italy||18th||75.86 m|
|1988||Olympic Games||Seoul, South Korea||25th||75.96 m|
|1997||World Championships||Athens, Greece||24th||74.92 m|
Seasonal bests by year
- 1973 - 27.00 (old-rule 600g)
- 1978 - 56.06 (old-rule 800g)
- 1979 - 66.06 (old-rule 800g)
- 1980 - 72.72 (old-rule 800g)
- 1981 - 83.20 (old-rule 800g)
- 1982 - 78.88 (old-rule 800g)
- 1983 - 85.32 (old-rule 800g)
- 1984 - 88.28 (old-rule 800g / GB Record)
- 1985 - 91.40 (old-rule 800g / GB Record )
- 1986 - 81.74 ( New-Rule 800g / World Record)
- 1987 - 83.84
- 1988 - 75.96
- 1997 - 74.92
- 2000 - 76.96
- 2002 - 71.97
- 2003 - 74.02
- 2004 - 74.28
- 2005 - 68.81
- 2006 - 70.85
- 2007 - 72.02
- 2008 - 67.17
- 2009 - 72.49
- 2010 - 71.07
- 2011 - 74.73
- 2012 - 72.78 ( 76.15m 700g World Masters Record M50 )
- "Colourful Bradstock turns the javelin into performance art". The Independent. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
- "Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus and Shunts: Overview, Anatomy, Etiology".
- "World Record Progression - Men - Nemeth Javelins". www.nemethjavelins.hu. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
- Steve Landells, Bradstock’s Olympic vision (UK: Athletics Weekly, Oct 2006) pgs. 20–21
- "The American Sport Art Museum & Archives – Daphne, AL". asama.org. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
- "The American Sport Art Museum & Archives – Daphne, AL". asama.org. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
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- Collin Jackson, Raise Your Game (BBC Website) [link here]
- McCain Track and Field Show, UK Channel 4
- The Universal Record Database, Longest throw with an iPod
- NBC 2008 Olympic Trials Video [or] New York Times Article
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- "Roald Bradstock.com" (PDF).
- "2008 US Track & Field Olympic Trials".
- "Javelin thrower brings a festive feel to the day". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Roald Bradstock - The Olympic Picasso". roaldbradstock.com. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Bradstock's ambitious art project for 2012". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- Longman, Jeré. "U.S. Track Trials: 46-Year-Old Thrower Lifts Javelin to a Work of Art". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- Villarreal, Ignacio. "Roald Bradstock, the "Olympic Picasso" has Ambitious Art Project for London 2012". artdaily.com. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Ex-Olympian smashes fish throwing record". Enfield Independent. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- Hazel, Bill. "Battle of the Generations: Roald Bradstock vs Matti Mortimore - Video Dailymotion". Dailymotion. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Roald Bradstock: Art and the Olympics". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "'Olympic Picasso' will paint the town red if he reaches Games at 50". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Olympian and Painter Teaches Sport Art to Youth for 2012 London Games". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Third time lucky in 2012?". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Roald Bradstock: Still throwing caution to wind after half a century". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Keighley pupils link up with ‘Olympic Picasso’". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "BBC Wales - Colin Jackson's Raise Your Game - 2012 - Roald Bradstock". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "The American Sport Art Museum & Archives – Daphne, AL". asama.org. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Video: See the world record for throwing a vinyl record - The Strut". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Roald Bradstock: Javelin World Record Holder Says Art Gave Him Success | The Sport Digest". thesportdigest.com. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Keighley pupils link up with ‘Olympic Picasso’ | Tlegraph & Argus". http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/. Retrieved 2015-09-14. External link in
- "‘Olympic Picasso’ dials in from America to help pupils with their artistic endeavours | Keighley News". http://www.keighleynews.co.uk/. Retrieved 2015-09-14. External link in
- "Bradstock AOTO Testimonial | YouTube". http://www.youtube.com/. Retrieved 2015-09-14. External link in
- "Roald Bradstock Bio, Stats, and Results". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Roald Bradstock's javelin throw and BBC interview at the 2012 UK Olympic Trials".
- "Fifty-year-old Roald Bradstock wins javelin silver at Aviva Trials". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Roald Bradstock". HK Magazine. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Picasso de Sports". HK Magazine. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "Meet Olympic Picasso - Roald Bradstock". Brian Yap. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "South China Morning Post - Roald Bradstock". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "masterstrack.com » Masters javelin great Bradstock lends a hand to USATF Foundation". masterstrack.com. Retrieved 2015-09-14.