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Mexico’s synchronised swimmers wear Avatar: The Last Airbender-inspired swimsuits at Tokyo Olympics

Dutch windsurfer Kiran Badloe also paid tribute to cartoon TV show during Games with Avatar-inspired hairstyle

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Thursday 05 August 2021 15:39 BST
Mexico’s synchronized swimmers pay tribute to Avatar: The Last Airbender at the Olympics
Mexico’s synchronized swimmers pay tribute to Avatar: The Last Airbender at the Olympics (AFP via Getty Images)
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Fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender are expressing their joy at seeing subtle nods to the show at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

This week, Mexican synchronised swimming duo Nuria Diosdado and Joana Jimenez García became the latest Olympic competitors to draw inspiration from the Nickelodeon show when they competed on Monday in black-and-white bedazzled swimsuits bearing the koi fish Tui and La.

As noted by PopSugar, the koi fish are known as spirits from the popular show, with Tui identified as the moon spirit, while La is known as the ocean spirit in the Nickelodeon cartoon.

In Mandarin, La means pull, while Tui translates to push, with the outlet stating that, in Avatar, it is revealed that the two spirits “maintain balance on earth with their ‘eternal dance of push and pull.’”

The backs of the swimsuits, designed by Mexican brand Gilling Activewear, also featured additional references to the show, according to PopSugar, which reported that the outfits included the show’s depictions of the four elements.

On social media, the tribute to the early 2000s TV show proved to be a hit among Avatar fans, with many praising the Olympians.

“Begging you guys to look at Mexico’s swimsuits at the Olympics,” a Twitter account dedicated to ATLA news wrote in a tweet that has been liked more than 8,000 times, alongside photos of the Olympic duo.

In response to the tweet, one person wrote: “I’m crying. My childhood cartoons and anime in the Olympics.”

Another joked: “Unless you make it to the olympics with an ATLA swimsuit don’t call yourself a true stan.”

“Not to be a complete nerd but oh my god I love this,” someone else tweeted.

Others shared their appreciation of the athletes’ proud support of the cartoon, with another viewer adding: “Love it when athletes and artists show their geekiness instead of hiding it. Very cool!”

And, as some Olympic viewers pointed out, Diosdado and García were not the only athletes to pay tribute to the cartoon at the Tokyo Games, as Dutch windsurfer Kiran Badloe won a gold medal for the Netherlands over the weekend while sporting an arrow shaved into his head that was dyed blue, a haircut inspired by ATLA.

The athlete’s distinct look was taken from Avatar’s title character Aang, who features the same hairstyle on the show and who has the ability to bend all four elements.

The inspiration served Badloe well at the Games, as the athlete told Reuters: “I need to be in tune with the wind and in tune with the water and everything around. I have been able to piece something together in these Olympics races, so I think it worked in my favour.”

“The fact that Olympics competitors still get inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender even years later shows how timeless, legendary and influential this show is,” one person summed up on Twitter.

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