Michelle Jenneke is the Australian hurdler who became an international sensation when she performed a dance at the start of a race. The video of her has since been shared across the internet and she will be one of the most closely watched competitors when she takes part in the 2012 Olympics games in London this summer.
Miss Jenneke - known to friends as 'Shelly' - was warming up for the IAAF World Junior Championship in Barcelona alongside her fellow contestants. But while others were stretching slowly, with icy stares on their faces as they focused their energies on the race in front of them, Miss Jenneke began with a dance.
The 19-year-old racer wiggled her hips, jumped up and down and flung her arms behind her head. It was sort of a cross between a warm up, an aerobics class and a Kylie Minogue pop video. But incredibly, the warm up worked, and she went on to win the race comfortably ahead of her rivals.
The race began like any other and Miss Jenneke is unlikely to have been noticed. Wearing green pants and a white vest she looked like her rivals. But within moments of lining up behind the blocks for the start of the race, Miss Jenneke began doing something different... she started dancing.
It began with her hands on her hips, and she moved her hips from side to side. The movement became faster and her dark brown ponytail flung in the air. Clearly she had a lot of energy, and when she put her feet on the floor she was still shaking her legs and she gently stepped forwards and backwards with a slight dance rhythm. But then this is where her unorthodox warm-up really took off.
Miss Jenneke wiggled her hips again, leaped into the air, crossed her arms over like she was on a dance floor and wiggled her fingers. She then began slapping her thighs as she jumped skywards, before landing again and wiggling her hips once more. Still she crossed her hands over, and shook those fingers. With a beaming smile on her face, she then waved to somebody sitting in the stands of the stadium. A little more hip wiggling, even moving the shoulders up and down in time to her jumps, and she was crossing her hands again showing off the yellow and green (national colours for Australia) paint on her nails. By now she was even starting to nod her head like she was listening to music. Before bouncing up to the blocks, Miss Jenneke shook her chest, too, like a dancer from a music video.
The sports blog With Leather showed live streaming footage of the race, then posted a slowed down version of Miss Jenneke's warm up. It has since added various images and .gif images to the site and written about her dance several more times. Many other news sites and blogs around the world have also commented on the Internet furore that the dance caused. Quite why, nobody knows. It's not the sexiest dance (there are far more explicit on daytime TV music videos) and Miss Jenneke is fully clothed. But it is however, very unusual to see a female hurdler dancing at the arts of the race, and an attractive one at that.
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Why did she dance like that?
There have been many explanations as to why Miss Jenneke went through this strange warm up routine. Nothing similar has been seen in athletics before and it's unlikely many athletes will be copying her. Some have suggested that this is a good way way to loosen up the muscles. Dancing might also of been a way for her to relax and shake off some of the pre-race nerves.
Others are more cycnical and suggest that her dance was a deliberate ploy for attention ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Or that she wanted publicity and fame. Some even claim that to behave in such a blithe way was not sprtsman-like, and insulting to her fellow competitors, whom she went on to beat comfortably.
But whatever the reason behind Miss Janneke's dance, it's clear that it has brought her world-wide attention. Within a day of being uploaded onto YouTube the clip had been watched almost 200,000 times. In under a week more than ten million had watched it. Many people are saying that she is the 'hottest hurdler of all time'. She is now known across the world for the sexy dance at the start of the race. She will inevitably be offered lots of magazine and TV appearances, and will be offered modelling work, so from a career point of view it could have been very profitable for Miss Jenneke.
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