Imagine running in an 800-meter race against a Stanford student. Now imagine that student passing you, and, as you struggle to keep up, seeing a USA Track and Field symbol tattooed in sleek black across his upper back. Feel intimidated? That’s the point.
Tom Mallon ’14, a native of Philadelphia, was tatted back in 2010 during the spring of his freshman year on the Farm. A pair of wings flanking a star adorns his back, nearly covering his shoulder blades. He’s been running since his freshman year of high school and mainly competes in middle distances, like the 800.
When Tom originally got the tat, his mom didn’t buy his unconvincing text message (interestingly sent on April Fools’ Day – the tattoo artist could have pulled a number of awfully good pranks). So Tom waited until he got home from school, and then revealed it to them. Although initially upset, his parents got used to the tattoo and became supportive, similar to how they always have in the past about his track career.
When asked if he ever had regrets about the tattoo, Tom chuckled and assured me that unless he allowed his back to get saggy (which he seemed convinced would not happen), it would always look good. Inspired by a shirt he used to wear while running during high school, the tattoo was in the works for a while before Tom actually followed through with his idea.
When asked why he got the tattoo, he reminded me of the fact that all great athletes have times of weakness. Although Tom was injured both his freshman and sophomore years, he uses the tattoo to remind himself of his ultimate goal: to be on the USA Track and Field team.
Name: Tom Mallon
Event: 800-meter, middle distance
Major: Science, Technology and Society
Hometown: Philadelphia, Penn.
Tattoo: USA Track and Field symbol