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‘My hoo haa is gonna be out’: US Olympians slam Nike for skimpy women’s track kit

<span>Athletes post at the Nike Air Innovation Summit held at the Palais Brongniart on Thursday in Paris, France.</span><span>Photograph: WWD/Getty Images</span>
Athletes post at the Nike Air Innovation Summit held at the Palais Brongniart on Thursday in Paris, France.Photograph: WWD/Getty Images

Nike’s Team USA track and field kit for women is needlessly revealing and sexist, female athletes have said after the sportswear brand unveiled its outfits for this summer’s Olympic Games.

Related: Nike’s ‘hoo haa’ Olympic uniforms reveal everything, including sexism in sport

Images made public on Thursday of the women’s kit on a mannequin, showing a very high-cut pantyline, triggered criticism from several athletes for what they saw as a decision to prioritize skimpiness over function. “They are absolutely not made for performance,” US steeplechaser Colleen Quigley said in a message to Reuters.

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Lauren Fleshman, the US national champion in the 5000m in 2006 and 2010, shared even harsher criticism in an Instagram post, writing: “I’m sorry, but show me one WNBA or NWSL team who would enthusiastically support this kit. This is for Olympic Track and Field. Professional athletes should be able to compete without dedicating brain space to constant pube vigilance or the mental gymnastics of having every vulnerable piece of your body on display. Women’s kits should be in service to performance, mentally and physically. If this outfit was truly beneficial to physical performance, men would wear it.”

She added: “This is not an elite athletic kit for track and field. This is a costume born of patriarchal forces that are no longer welcome or needed to get eyes on women’s sports. ... Stop making it harder for half the population @nike @teamusa @usatf.”

Tara Davis-Woodhall, an American who placed sixth in the long jump at the Tokyo Games and took silver at last year’s world championships, reacted with equal parts humor and horror, commenting: “Wait my hoo haa is gonna be out.”

Debate has raged for years over more revealing outfits for female Olympians in disciplines from beach volleyball to gymnastics, and some rules on competition wear are changing. Germany’s women’s gymnastics team wore full-length bodysuits at the Tokyo Olympics, in what they said was a stand against sexualisation in the sport. Gymnastics New Zealand last week updated its attire rules to allow women and girls to wear shorts or leggings over their leotards.

Nike said in an email to Reuters that it was offering athletes unitard options with both a brief and a short for this Olympics, whereas it only offered the brief for the Tokyo Olympics. Nike’s track and field kits for men and women include nearly 50 apparel pieces and 12 competition styles for specific events, the brand said when launching the outfits.

Nike-sponsored pole vaulter Katie Moon, in a post on X, said the kit shown on the mannequin was “concerning”, but added that women athletes are given many options on what to wear, and that she prefers briefs to shorts. A spokesperson for USA Track & Field said: “Athlete options and choices were the driving force for USATF in the planning process with Nike.”

US middle-distance runner Athing Mu and US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson were among the athletes modelling Nike’s Olympic kits at the launch show in Paris. While Mu wore briefs, Richardson wore a version of the outfit with shorts.

Quigley said Nike should also offer athletes who make the team custom tailoring to ensure the kit fits perfectly. “Our bodies are all different and it seems silly to expect us to compete at the highest level of our sport without a properly fit uniform,” she said.

Nike told Reuters it will have tailors available for Olympic and Paralympic athletes this year.