Bradstock ends competition career after Javelin prelims


Amber James
Special to USATF
USA Track & Field

EUGENE, Ore. - Arne-Roald Bradstock, the 46-year old UK native and 1984 and 1988 Olympian competing for the UK, dazzled spectators at Hayward Field on Friday during the Men's Javelin preliminary competition. Switching between three colorfully hand-painted outfits with matching javelins, Bradstock concluded his professional athletic career of over two decades to continue his passion of combining art and athletics.

The artistic nature of Bradstock's outfits defines him in a nutshell: an athlete and an artist. He was diagnosed with spina bifida and hydrocephalus in 1968, when he was 6 years old. Doctors told his parents that he would never participate in sports and should even avoid them. Undaunted, Bradstock not only competed in and excelled in sports, he brought his love of art into the mix as well.

"That's who I am. I've always been an athlete and an artist and I'm excited that I can now bring them together. Now it's time for me to go on and be an artist, but I still want to be involved in track." Bradstock's last throw on Friday was 68.71m and his career best is 91.40m, posted in 1985. Though his performances aren't what they used to be, Bradstock is realistic: "I'm short, I'm slow and I'm old. I had a lot of fun today and I had a feeling it might be."

The art that Bradstock creates is two-fold: one form is called "athletic abstraction" where he creates an athletic image and overlays it with shapes and lines to symbolize the repetition of an athletes training and competition; the second form involves Bradstock throwing different items (e.g. a mullet and an ipod), adding special effects, setting it to music and posting the videos on Youtube. "Youtube is a great tool but it's being abused right now. I just see it as a great artistic way to communicate with people and especially the younger people. So in order to be vital on Youtube it needs to be something sexual, violent, or bizarre. The first two I'm not going to do, but bizarre, I've got that tact."

Bradstock leaves athletic competition excited for what's next. "It's about having fun. People start challenging me [in response to the Youtube videos] and I'm like, 'Hey bring it on! Let's meet somewhere and have fun with it and get people throwing.'"

Bradstock lives in Marietta, Ga., with his wife and two daughters. He is actively trying to make the 2012 Olympics in London an event that uses art to unify and educate.