Olympic cyclist Dan CravenWe may have been worried about Zika, unfinished facilities and who knows what else, but now it’s long over, we can officially proclaim Rio ’16 as the Bearded Olympics. There was a full and bewildering range of styles on display, from the standard full-bearded look sported by champion shot putter Joe Kovacs of the United States of America to the shaggy Grizzly Adams look of Namibian cyclist Dan Craven. And it wasn’t too long before beard-growing became an unofficial event in the Australian wing of the Olympic village when shooting competitor (and full-on Bushman beard-wearer) Daniel Repocholi challenged the more closely-cropped Rhys Howden of the water polo squad to a ‘beard-off’, where Rio Olympic volunteers were stopped in the street and asked which one wore their respective beard better.

Gold standard hairiness

On the track, the reigning champion was the USA’s Michael Tinsley in the 400m hurdles. His long, pointed goatee caused a sensation on Twitter, but maybe he grew it too long – the former silver medallist of London 2012 didn’t even make it out of the first round. Drag factor, perhaps? While certain Olympians sensibly maintained a shaving routine and stayed beardless (for obvious reasons, in the case of swimmers) others compromised and went for a moustache, such as Great Britain’s sprint cycling team – until they shaved them off just before their final, which they went on to win.

Mission accomplished?

With such a global array of facial furniture on display, could it be that we’ve reached the long-speculated arrival of Peak Beard? Probably not: there’s 18 months or so before the Winter Olympics, and the hundreds of ice hockey players who traditionally don’t shave until they get knocked out of a tournament. So if you’re having problems growing one, you may have to consider investing in a beard transplant (along with 4,500 other British men every year) or stay indoors until the craze goes away…



By Ian Watson


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