US athletes backtrack on criticism of ‘too-revealing’ Nike kit

Nike Olympics athletics kit
This was the image that raised concerns about an overly revealing women's kit - CITIUS MAG

American track and field stars have backed Nike’s new Olympic kit despite initial fears that the clothing is too revealing.

A high-cut leotard that barely covered the bikini line was paraded at a launch event on a mannequin last week, prompting long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall to comment on Instagram: “Wait my hoo haa is gonna be out”.

Many others then joined the condemnation but, after seeing the various outfits in person for the first time, Davis-Woodhall said that the problem was the presentation in photographs next to a men’s kit with long shorts.

“It was the picture that did no justice,” said the world silver medallist. “I saw one [of the uniforms] today. They’re beautiful. They’re not like the picture. The cut does look a little bit different on that mannequin. They just should have had a second look with someone to choose that photo to post.”

The sprinter Gabby Thomas, who won two medals at the Tokyo Olympics, agreed, saying that she was “initially shocked like everybody else” after seeing the pictures of the kit on a mannequin.

“I love competing in the brief,” Thomas said. “I think I love wearing as little clothes as possible just because you’re sweaty, you’re being really active and moving, so I love that we have the option to wear that, but we also have the option to wear any uniform we want. We could wear the men’s uniform if we really wanted to. So I’m comfortable with what they put out there. The initial shock was warranted, but I think no one has anything to worry about.”

Anna Cockrell in Nike's Olympic kit
Pictured on Anna Cockrell, the sprint hurdler, the kit looks less revealing - WWD

The pole vaulter Katie Moon had also questioned whether criticism of the kit was fair. “The point is we DO have the choice of what to wear, and whether we feel the best in a potato sack or a bathing suit during competitions, we should support the autonomy,” said Moon, who is sponsored by Nike.

The debate comes ahead of Team GB’s kit launch in Paris on Thursday with Adidas. There has already been controversy about ‘union flags’ in colour schemes other than the traditional red, white and blue design, but Team GB have already promised that the official team kits will have a union flag on the sleeve and a different colour palette.

Nike stressed that they had worked with athletes at each stage of the design for the USA kits.

“I remember they had a little area where athletes could try things on and check it out, give their feedback,” Thomas said. “Athletes were definitely consulted on the making of the uniform. That’s why I think everyone was a little shocked when they saw the photo because athletes wouldn’t have signed off on how that looked, but it doesn’t look like that in person.”

USATF, the governing body for athletics in the USA, said: “The Team USA track and field uniforms are only two of many options, including 50 unique pieces, that athletes will be able to choose from for the upcoming Olympic Games.”

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