'Olympic Picasso' will paint the town red if he reaches Games at 50

Simon Turnbull: On the YouTube section of Roald Bradstock's website, you can see a clip of him throwing in the Olympic javelin final in Los Angeles in 1984.

On the YouTube section of Roald Bradstock's website, you can see a clip of him throwing in the Olympic javelin final in Los Angeles in 1984. "He's had injuries," commentator Stuart Storey says of the javelin thrower-cum-artist who has come to be known as "the Olympic Picasso". "He has got a weak back."

Throughout his javelin career, Bradstock has been troubled by back problems. Unknown to many, he suffers from spina bifida. It was quite an achievement, then, for the Hertfordshire native to make the British team for those 1984 Olympic Games in LA and reach the final and finish seventh.

There has been quite a string of achievements since then, too – Olympic recognition for his art, the world record for throwing an iPod (154 yards) – but the supreme accomplishment could come down the road from his old family home in Broxbourne next summer, at the 2012 Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

At 49, Bradstock stands third in the British ranking lists for 2011 – behind two javelin throwers (James Campbell, 23, and Matthew Hunt, 20) who were not even born when he travelled to the 1984 Olympics as part of a British track-and-field team that included Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and Daley Thompson. As Bradstock threw 74.73m at a meeting in Tucson, Arizona, a fortnight ago, his aim of making the 2012 Olympic trials next summer seems assured. His goal now is to make the British team for the 2012 Games, by which time he will have turned 50.

"I just look at it as another challenge," Bradstock said. "I was six when I was diagnosed with spina bifida. That was just a couple of months before the Mexico Olympics in 1968 and I remember watching Bob Beamon, Dick Fosbury and Al Oerter. They have been the inspiration for what I'm doing now.

"What I'm doing, I guess, kind of defies logic. It's uncharted territory as far as my age and the level I'm at. I have the advantage of experience but the price is the age.

"If you'd asked me a couple of weeks ago if I could make the team I would have said 'No, impossible'. Now, having thrown the 74.73m, I would say 'Improbable, but there's a possibility'. If I can put everything together and get a year's training behind me, I need a minimum of 79.50m, the Olympic B standard, and then to win the trials.

"I'm going to be 50 in April. I want to take that out of the equation as far as thinking, 'I can't do it because of my age'. What if I could do it? A 50-year-old in the Olympics? That would be a pretty good story."

It would indeed: another remarkable chapter in what has been one long tale of the unexpected by Roald, the Broxbourne boy who spent his student days in the United States and has settled near Atlanta. After the Los Angeles Olympics, he set a world best with the old-style javelin in 1985, throwing 91.40m, and made the British team for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, placing 25th. Bradstock then switched allegiance to the United States and was a reserve for the 1996 Games in Atlanta. As a full-time artist, he won the US Olympic art competition in 2000 and had his work exhibited at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. Hence "the Olympic Picasso".

Last year, Bradstock made the decision to nail his colours back to the British mast, finishing eighth while suffering from injury at the national championships in Birmingham. He makes regular trips back to Blighty in his role as a legacy ambassador for the Youth Sport Trust, lecturing on art and sport at colleges around Britain.

The Olympic Picasso has also perfected the art of oddball record breaking. As well as the iPod mark, he holds the world records for throwing an egg (118 yards) and a goldfish (56 yards).

News
Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London
news

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game