Columbian climber Nairo Quintana took his first win of this 2014 season on stage 4 of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. Nothing unusual there; he’s on familiar territory in South America, and after his propelling himself into the big-time last season with second place overall at the Tour de France it’s safe to say he will be doing his fair share of winning this season.
What is unusual and, lets be honest from the outset here, concerning, is the ‘baby rocking’ celebration he did as he crossed the line. Now, I don’t know the back story to Quintana’s version of this gesture, but if I’m not mistaken it’s normally an announcement to the sporting public of a recent arrival of the infant variety; and it’s usually the preserve of the attention craving footballer.
I’m a father, I understand the emotional high that comes with watching your offspring pop into the world, but this ‘baby rocking’ made me cringe when Brazilian footballer Bebeto did it in 1994 (the first example I’m aware of), and I’ve cringed with every repeat performance I’ve witnessed since. Depending on your point of view, parental status, or desire to know about the family life of your favourite sportsmen, this form of celebration is either:
a) a craving of attention, saying ‘look at me, I’m a father and have a son/daughter of my very own, aren’t I clever?’
b) a touching public display of familial pride.
I’m with the a’s. Congratulations…you have just achieved what a mere several billion men have achieved before you…well done!
To be clear, I’m not anti-Quintana; I like him, he’s an exciting racer and seems to be a very shy and humble man, and as I say, I don’t even know the story behind his use of this gesture. I just have a (perhaps?) irrational dislike of sportsmen ‘baby rocking’.
But even as I write, any logic to my argument begins to dissipate before my eyes.
The Tour de France 2013 was full of memorable moments, but one of my favourites was Joaquim Rodriguez on the podium with his kids. I loved the way they loved being up there…the way their dad was so proud…the way Chris Froome shook their hands and had a bit of a laugh with them. I thought, ‘I wish that was me, up on the Tour de France podium with my kids, showing them off to the world.’
So you see, I don’t have a heart of stone…anything but. Why not share your greatest triumphs with your kids, that’s a very natural thing to do. I just have an instinctive dislike of the ‘baby rockers’ of this world.
But then, I’m quite a traditionalist. I like my cyclists to approach the line, zip the jersey up to the neck, and raise two arms to the sky. In a close bunch sprint, I will accept the victor clenching one fist as he clings onto his bucking bike with the other, but once we get into ‘baby rocking’ what’s next?
Removing the jersey and throwing it to the fans? Cuddling, kissing and bottom patting like a Premier League footballer? A Frankie Dettori style flying dismount?
It’s a slippery slope.