EUGENE, Ore. — At age 46, Roald Bradstock did not qualify for Sunday’s final in the javelin at the United States Olympic track and field trials. As a consolation, he apparently did retire holding the world record for throwing fish across state lines.
Roald Bradstock is not going to the Olympics, but he has not given up throwing objects like iPods, soft-boiled eggs and fish.
An artist and athlete known as the Olympic Picasso, Bradstock figured that only three things kept him from advancing beyond Friday’s qualifying round.
“I’m short, slow and old,” he said.
Before becoming an American citizen in 1995, Bradstock finished seventh at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles while competing for Britain. These days, balding and pudgy at career’s end, he resembles an underweight Peter Boyle or an overweight Joe Biden.
His aim now is to combine art and sport for fun. In Friday’s qualifying round, while finishing 16th among 24 competitors with a throw of 225 feet 5 inches, Bradstock turned the javelin runway into a fashion runway.
He changed his Lycra outfit for each of his three tosses, variously sporting zebra tights; the five colors of the Olympic rings; and the red, white and blue of the American flag, even if stocky javelin throwers might be advised to avoid horizontal stripes. To accessorize, Bradstock threw color-coordinated, pop-art javelins.
If he cannot be an Olympic phenomenon, he still hopes to become a YouTube phenomenon, drawing children to the sport with his eccentric manner while poking fun at the silliness of obscure entries in the Guinness Book of World Records.
“I see this as an artistic way to communicate with younger people,” said Bradstock, who lives in Marietta, Ga. “In order to go viral on YouTube, it needs to be something sexual, violent or bizarre. The first one, I’m not going to do. Bizarre, I’ve got that tanked.”
The YouTube destination of Roald62 will provide curious Web surfers a viewing of what purports to be the world’s longest one-handed throw of a soccer ball. On Jan. 29, Bradstock catapulted a soccer ball 82 yards, wearing what was either another homemade set of tights or an oversized tube of Crest toothpaste.
His record throw is available not from one angle but two. Judging by the crowd, every sports fan in the world but one had something better to do.
In 1968, Bradstock said, he was found to have spina bifida and told that he should not play sports. That year, he watched the Summer Games in Mexico City and decided he wanted to be an Olympian.
“I’m the kind of person, you tell me I can’t do something, I keep going,” Bradstock said.
With a short, seven-step approach, and sideways, wrap-around throwing motion, he competed for Britain in the 1984 and 1988 Games, then later served as an alternate for the United States. Inevitably, though, Bradstock eventually succumbed to the vagaries of age. Among other things, he joined the list of the follicly challenged.
“I just don’t have the height,” Bradstock said. “I used to be 5-11, then I lost some hair.”
Having retired the javelin, he is ready to focus on tossing more exotic, if not always sporting, items.
Bradstock claims to have heaved a golf ball 170 yards, a soft-boiled egg 118 yards, a cellphone 132 yards and an iPod 154 yards. His motto is: throw it and they will come.
“Kids say, ‘I can’t throw an iPod, it’s not aerodynamic,’ ” Bradstock said. “Actually, it is very aerodynamic.”
So, apparently, are certain kinds of fish.
In February, Bradstock said, he threw a wet fish across the state line separating Florida from Alabama. The distance was 196 feet 9 inches.
“A very official world master’s record for a mullet,” Bradstock said.
The previous record, for inquiring fish throwers who want to know, was 187 feet.
“It was the lead news story in Florida,” Bradstock said.
He may have started a trend. According to some Internet postings in Australia, he said, “People are showing up with sardines.”
At some point, Bradstock said, he would like to set a record for tossing an iPhone. But other items, like cantaloupes, he considers as clichéd as they are spherical.
“That’s silly, ridiculous,” Bradstock said. “There’s a fine line.”
A man must keep his dignity.